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French Apple Cake

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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, what seems like eons ago, I worked as an au pair in Paris for a family with three little boys. My host mother, Valérie, loved to cook and would frequently enlist my help in the kitchen once the kids were in bed. Her French apple cake, with chunks of tart apples nestled in a tender, buttery rum cake, is a longtime favorite of mine. Similar to many homemade French desserts, like clafoutis, madeleines, or crepes, it is the essence of simplicity.

What you’ll need to make French Apple Cake

how to make french apple cake

When this baking this cake or any any dessert with apples, such as apple crisp, apple pie, or apple cobbler, it’s important to use apples suitable for baking. Baking apples hold their shape when cooked, 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 great 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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Video Tutorial

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


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ 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 ½-inch cubes (I like Honeycrisp, Fuji or Granny Smith) (3½ - 4 cups chopped)
  • Confectioners' sugar (optional), for decorating cake


  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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  • Do Not pass this recipe up.Make it. So unique & Taste Great.. I cut up apples in smaller chunks & used 3 cups my preference. Thanks for sharing, it was gone as soon as it cooled!

    • — Judy on March 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Substituted apple juice for rum. Our guests loved it! Another fabulous recipe. Thank you!

    • — Carmen on March 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • The cake was super easy to make. Baked as per instructions but even after 40 minutes of baking and testing that the cake is “done” it still has a soggy texture to it. Very tasty but not positive it is actually “done”…
    Will come back to the recipe – maybe use less apples (smaller), but definitely on my list to repeat!

    • — Susan on March 15, 2023
    • Reply
  • It is such a delicious cake. So light. All was gone as soon as I put on the table. Thank you for another great recipe Jen!!

    • — ERINC BAHCECI on March 12, 2023
    • Reply
  • wow for being such a basic recipe, it sure was good, perfect, there is nothing i would change in this recipe.

    • — constance on March 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • Just fantastic! Made for the first time tonight. My husband said he expects one every week from now on😂
    Definitely a hit, not to sweet and very moist. Everyone loves it ❤️

    • — Sarah on March 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    quick question: would it help if I bring the eggs to room temperature? I know w/some recipes it helps to do that..


    • — Lisa on March 10, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa, it won’t hurt, but it’s not necessary to bring the eggs to room temperature.

      • — Jenn on March 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • Where is the ingredients list?

    I can see the pic of what is required to make cake but no amounts?

    • — Valerie Rumble on March 10, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Valerie, It sounds like you are just looking at the portion of the page that has the pictures with some instructions underneath. If you scroll down a bit to under the pictures, you’ll find the full recipe. Alternatively, at the very top of the page, to the right of the recipe name, you’ll see an orange/red button that says Jump to Recipe – if you click on that, it will take you directly to the recipe. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on March 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delicious, soft, just sweet enough.

    • — Deysi on March 7, 2023
    • Reply
  • Thank you so much for this recipe! It is simple, yet the results are always impressive, and the taste is perfection. I feel it’s also on the healthier side for a dessert, since the apple-to-cake ratio is quite high (and on that note, don’t be afraid if the batter looks particularly chunky with apples; the cake really fills in while baking). I do use Calvados in lieu of rum, but that’s just a personal preference. Thanks again, it’s fantastic!

    • — DiscoDancerBoston on March 4, 2023
    • Reply
  • i’m excited to try making your cake. I wonder about the possibility of substituting applesauce for some of the butter, maybe 25% of the butter. Do you think this would be feasible, and still result in a nice texture for the cake?
    thank you.

    • — Carolyn on February 27, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Carolyn, it will make the cake a bit wetter, but you can get away with replacing 25% of the butter with applesauce. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on February 28, 2023
      • Reply
  • Excellent recipe! The rum flavor in the batter is delicious – I will make this often from now on!
    Thank you! 🙂

    • — Christiane Sheets on February 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • How many grams is 1 stick of butter?

    • — Debbie on February 21, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Debbie, it’s 113 grams. The great majority of my recipes (including this one) include conversions to metric/weight measurements. To view them, scroll down to the recipe, and immediately under the recipe title on the right side, you’ll see a little toggle. If you move it from “cup measures” to metric, you’ll see measurements that will work for you. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on February 21, 2023
      • Reply
      • Best ever 🥰

        • — Martina on February 25, 2023
        • Reply
    • I had some old apples sitting in the fridge and literally bits of flour from leftover bakes. Used 3 apples, mixture of plain flour + self raising flour, a couple of too small eggs, subbed rum with orange juice and added mixed spice. The end result was a fabulously light cake filled with apples. Forgiving recipes like this one is a real keeper!

      • — Yeen on March 5, 2023
      • Reply
  • Can I make this in a loaf pan? I don’t have cake tins.

    • — Chantelle on February 18, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Chantelle, you could try it but I’m concerned that it may be a little gummy in the center. If you want an apple bread/cake in a loaf pan, I’d suggest this — it’s also delish. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on February 19, 2023
      • Reply
  • Just made this today and it was a big success. I didn’t have any rum so I used 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract. I also completely forgot to replace the rum with milk, like I had planned to, but cake was perfect anyway. I also sprinkled a little brown sugar and slivered almonds on top before baking. It’s was amazing. It has such a depth of flavor. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

    • — Victoria Palucho on February 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • If I’m serving this in 2 days, can I just put it in the refrigerator ?
    Thank you !

    • — Kay on February 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Kay, It keeps nicely on the counter covered with foil for a few days so you don’t really need to put it in the fridge. That said, it won’t hurt if you want to refrigerate it; just bring it to room temperature before serving.

      • — Jenn on February 17, 2023
      • Reply
  • This recipe is amazing!
    Every time I make apple cake I try a different recipe.
    This one is a keeper 😋
    It’s light and airy, with a little crunch on the edges. Great flavor too
    Thank you 💓

    • — Cheryl Williams on February 16, 2023
    • Reply
  • Just wow! That cake is delicious. I made it exactly as described with the exception of reducing the sugar in the cake to 2/3 cup and replacing the rum with Grand Marnier (because I didn’t have any rum). The cake was tender, the apples perfect. I don’t believe I have ever written a review online before but this was so good that I felt I had to recommend it!!!

    • — Glenda NS on February 16, 2023
    • Reply

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