French Apple Cake

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

With chunks of sweet apples nestled in a tender and buttery rum cake, this French apple cake is the essence of simplicity.

french apple cake

The summer after my junior year in college, I worked in Paris as an au pair for a family with three little boys. My host mother, Valerie, was a pharmacist by day and bon vivant by night. She was always entertaining and would frequently enlist my help in the kitchen once the kids were in bed. Baking was her specialty and I can still picture her standing over the sink, coring and peeling apples for her French apple cake.

I didn’t think to get her recipe back then, but this cake made with chunks of sweet apples nestled in a tender, buttery rum cake is pretty close to what I remember. Like so many French home baking recipes, it is the essence of simplicity.

What you’ll need to make French Apple Cake

how to make french apple cake

Be sure to select baking apples for this recipe. Baking apples hold their shape when baked, so the chunks of fruit won’t turn into applesauce in the oven. Tart-sweet varietals such as Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, Braeburn, and Jonagold are all good options. Feel free to combine different varieties for a more nuanced flavor.

How To Make French Apple Cake

how to make french apple cake

Begin by combining the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. No need to sift; just whisk well.

how to make french apple cake

Set aside. Then, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

how to make french apple cake

Add the eggs one at a time.

how to make french apple cake

Beat in the vanilla extract and rum.

how to make french apple cake

It will look a little grainy at this point; that’s okay.

how to make french apple cake

Add the dry ingredients.

how to make french apple cake

Mix until just combined.

how to make french apple cake

Add the chopped apples.

how to make french apple cake

Use a rubber spatula to fold the apples into the batter.

how to make french apple cake

Have a 9-inch springform pan greased or a 9-inch cake pan greased, lined with parchment, and greased again.

how to make french apple cake

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even the top.

how to make french apple cake

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.

how to make french apple cake

Bake the cake for about 40 minutes, until golden and crisp on top.

how to make french apple cake

Serve warm or room temperature, plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

french apple cake

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French Apple Cake

With chunks of sweet apples nestled in a tender and buttery rum cake, this French apple cake is the essence of simplicity.

Servings: 6-8
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling over cake
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I like Honeycrisp, Fuji or Granny Smith) (3-1/2 - 4 cups chopped)
  • Confectioners' sugar (optional), for decorating cake

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Grease a 9-inch springform or regular cake pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. If using a regular cake pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and grease again.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and rum. Don't worry if the batter looks grainy at this point; that's okay. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chopped apples.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even the top. Sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool on a rack in the pan. Once cool, run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake. If using a springform pan, remove the sides. If using a regular cake pan, carefully invert the cake onto the rack, remove the parchment paper, then gently flip the cake over and place right-side-up on a platter. Using a fine sieve, dust with confectioners' sugar (if using). Cake can be served warm or room temperature, plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
  5. Freezer Friendly Instructions: The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 279
  • Fat: 13g
  • Saturated fat: 8g
  • Carbohydrates: 35g
  • Sugar: 22g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Sodium: 66mg
  • Cholesterol: 77mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Delicious!! I’ve been looking forward to making this cake for weeks and it did not disappoint. It’s easy, airy, light, and absolutely delightful!! My husband ate half of it in one sitting and said this was the best thing I’ve ever made. Thank you for sharing this recipe!! It’s a keeper!

    • — LGent on January 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi, I made this cake today and it has a strong egg taste. Any ideas what went wrong? Is it supposed to taste like this?

    Thank you 😊

    • — Lucy on January 26, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Lucy, Sorry that you experienced that! It really shouldn’t taste eggy. Did you make any adjustments to the recipe?

      • — Jenn on January 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • I can’t even count the number of times I’ve made this cake. It is so easy and the flavors are divine. I change out the fruit seasonally— strawberries in the summer, figs in the late summer/early fall, and apples in fall— they all turn out great. I will have to try it with peaches this summer! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Connie M on January 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can I use Vermont boiled apple cider in place of the rum? If so, how much? I’m so glad I found your website and have enjoyed making several of the recipes. All were delicious. I just ordered your first cookbook and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

    • — Gail Buckley on January 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • Yep definitely, and I would use the same amount. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 25, 2022
      • Reply
      • I doubled the recipe and made 2, one for us and one for my neighbors. I followed your recipe exactly, except substituting equal amount of boiled apple cider for the rum. They look great and ours is oh so delicious. Question, I can’t bring neighbors’ until tomorrow. Is it best to store in refrigerator overnight or can I just cover with foil and leave on the counter?

        • — Gail on January 26, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Gail, so glad you’re enjoying it! For your neighbor’s cake, I’d store it on the counter, covered with foil.

          • — Jenn on January 27, 2022
          • Reply
  • Can I use something else in place of the rum? Something non-alcoholic?

    • — Alesha on January 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, Alesha, you can replace the rum with apple juice, apple cider, or milk. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 25, 2022
      • Reply
  • An easy and delicious cake. Four of us ate it all at one meal! I used maple syrup instead of rum (we do live in Vermont). My daughter-in-law mentions it often. I’m going to make one just for her!

    • — Jennifer on January 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • Just made this for the first time, and it is DELICIOUS. Wow.

    • — Michele on January 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • This cake is fabulous! I used Honey-Crisp apples and the texture was perfect. I also used spiced rum. My husband, as well as grandkids, can’t get enough of this delicious cake! A simple, easy to make, fantastic recipe. Thank you!

    • — Elaine on January 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Yes I tweaked it a bit, my husband is diabetic turned out great. Used 1/2 cup monkfruit no sugar, added cinnamon, used 1/2 cup almond flour and 1/2 cup apf, doubled vanilla extract & added some baking soda to help rise due to almond flour. For those with type 1 they can use 1/2 cup coconut flour in lieu of apf.

    • — Julie on January 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • Please resist the urge to add cinnamon!
    I’ve made this a few times. Granny Smith apples are better than Honey Crisp, and Cognac beats rum.
    I love to toss the apple chunks in lemon juice and add a pinch of cardamom.
    I always scale the recipe up by fifty per-cent, ie 3 eggs, 3 apples, etc. I bake it in a 9 inch round cake pan at 350 degrees F for 70 minutes, loosely tenting with foil for the last 20 minutes.
    Five Stars!

    • — Marjie on January 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this French Apple Cake and it turned out well. Only criticism is the amount of sugar. I reduced the sugar in the recipe and sprinkled less than a teaspoon of sugar on the crust but still found it extremely sweet. Other than that, the texture was great!

    • — Rev on January 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this yesterday. Is there a way to use less sugar or make the cake less sweet?

    • — Syl on January 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Syl, you can cut the sugar in the batter back by 1 to 2 tablespoons. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • Sounds delish! Could I use cake flour instead?

    • — K on January 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi K, I wouldn’t recommend cake flour for this cake — sorry!

      • — Jenn on January 19, 2022
      • Reply
  • Made this morning and my husband said he thinks it will be gone by tonight. I had no rum so I added extra vanilla and a little water. I also sprinkled the top with two tablespoons of sugar. Very delicious!

    • — Martha Bilski on January 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • I just made this cake and it’s such a fabulously easy recipe. A friend said they’d used Calvados (may try it next time!) I’m going to freeze half for later!

    • — Tena on January 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Absolutely loved this recipe. Wanted to make my darling a cake for his birthday but had never dabbled in frosting or tiers before, so I decided to try this instead. He loved it, as did my family and myself. I decided to add ~80g less apple than called for, and mixed 1/4 tsp of cinnamon in the batter to add some spice, but other than that I love the recipe as is. Using a dark rum that has been aged in a barrel (so that is has that nice vanilla flavor to it) works really well in this cake, too.

    • — Sky Tusé on January 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • So delicious !! A great way to use up apples. I used 3 apples instead of 2 and it was perfect.
    Great recipe , thank you .
    It’s now a staple in my house !!

    • — D. Dunn on January 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • Wow! I had a craving for an apple cake, and this recipe hit the spot! I did not have rum, so I added a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to the flour. I also had a vanilla pod, so I added that to the butter. My family loved it, and I’ll have to make another tomorrow. Perfection!

    • — Merrily on January 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Love your recipe! I made it with less sugar and Sherry in place of rum… a runaway success. I’ve posted it on my blog https://homeonmyrange.blogspot.com/2022/01/french-apple-cake.html.
    Thank you for the recipe inspiration!

    • — Kavita on January 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • It was so easy to make and turned out delicious!!!

    • — Maria on January 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • Amazing recipe ! I have made this many times.
    Can I make 1.5 times the recipe in springform pan ? Will baking time change ?
    Thanks

    • — Dibster on January 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it. Yes, you can make 1.5 times the recipe. Bake time will be longer but I’m not sure by how much so keep a close eye on it.

      • — Jenn on January 13, 2022
      • Reply
    • I bake my 1.5X recipe in a 9 inch cake pan at 350 F for 70 minutes, tenting loosely with foil for the final 20 minutes. My pans are 2 inches deep, so I make a parchment collar inside the pan to give it an extra 1/2 inch or so. I stick it to the inside of the pan with a few dabs of the batter.

      • — Marjorie on January 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • Excited to try but I prefer a thicker cake since using a springform-could I just make 1 1/2x the batter to achieve that? I was afraid doubling the batter may make it too thick and it won’t bake all the way through??

    • — Heather Mina on January 11, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, Heather, it would be fine to make 1.5 times the recipe. The bake time will just be longer so keep a close eye on it. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can I substitute spiced rum for dark rum?

    • — Erin on January 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on January 10, 2022
      • Reply
  • Divine! Used 4 med-large honey crisps (we love apples!) covered the top with cinnamon sugar and baked for 45 minutes. Otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It was similar to a cake my grandmother used to make, less the rum, thanks Jenn!

    • — Irene P on January 9, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was incredible and so easy! I followed the directions exactly, except I made a 1/2 batch of the cake and cooked it in a small cast iron skillet for about 28 minutes and then crisped the top under the broiler. Highly recommend adding the granulated sugar over the top, I went a little heavy with it so it was crispy and delicious after broiling. The edges are the best. Will 100% make again! Thanks for such a great and simple recipe.

    • — Eileen on January 9, 2022
    • Reply
  • this cake is a Wonderful light cake !!!
    I have made this cake about 5 times and everyone just Loves it…
    at this moment ..I have just put my 6th
    cake in oven…this time I did a little change…my husband loves dark sweet pitted cherries ( frozen )…so I put 1 apple and about 8 cherries..all chopped together…So hopefully this will be OK…
    but I give the original recipe a ….
    5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

    • — Joanne Cameron on January 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • Wowwwww. This is to die for. So light and fluffy. Super low maintenance. Definitely my new go-to!

    • — Tim on January 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • Excellent recipe! I’ve followed it exactly and the result was exactly as yours and really yummy. 1/2 or it was gone before I could even think to snap a picture. It’s a keeper, for sure.
    Next time, just for fun, I’m thinking to soak a small handful of cranberries in the rum and add them into the mix. Will let you know how it comes out 😉

    • — Mirela on January 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this cake for new year’s eve and everyone loved it.
    I did not add rum and instead added some cinnamon and nutmeg so that its kids friendly.
    It was a hit for sure!!!!

    • — Avneet on January 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this cake for new year eve and everyone loved it.
    I did not add rum and instead added some cinnamon and nutmeg so that its kid friendly.
    It was a hit for sure!!!!

    • — Avneet on January 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this cake tonight with Kirkland brand dark spiced rum and two medium sized organic honey crisp apples. The rum is a dark, sultry product of the Caribbean which is subtly spiced.
    The combination of the type of apple and the exquisite (used 4 tablespoons) rum made a light, moist and swoon worthy cake. Baked in an 8 inch heavy duty cake pan for 45 minutes gave the cake a bit more height and a golden top with a crunchy edge. Just divine. Thank you so much for a lovely recipe.

    • — Grace Adoline Morinaga Young on January 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • I just made Jen Segal French Apple Cake I’m so excited I love all the recipes I made of yours so far thank you and Happy New Year’s to you and your family🎋

    • — Cheryl Chin on December 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • Haven’t made this yet. Only have light rum, does that work?

    • — Debbie Cooper on December 31, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on January 2, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can I use pears instead of apples? I received a gift basket full of pears!?

    • — sharon on December 31, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sharon, I haven’t tried this with pears but I think it should work. I’d use ones that are just slightly ripened as they should soften a bit when baked. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on January 2, 2022
      • Reply
  • Love, love, love this apple cake recipe. So easy to make. Hubby who normally does not eat sweets asks for it constantly. It’s become my go to cake, make it regularly.

    • — Zerina Pai on December 30, 2021
    • Reply

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