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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

Ingredients

  • 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

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

  • Really amazing cake! So easy! I used 3 Envy apples witha tad of lemon juice – otherwise made it exactly as in the recipe. This is a winner!!

    • — KG on February 21, 2024
    • Reply
  • This is one of the best cakes I have ever tasted. It is perfectly simple and simply perfect!

    • — CL on February 21, 2024
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  • I made this recipe today and in spite of very few ingredients it was amazing. I used dark Cuban rum and it gave the cake a beautiful flavour and it rose very well and stayed moist. I will make this again and again! So delicious, thank you!

    • — Monika Lang on February 20, 2024
    • Reply
  • Excellent recipe, easy to make, thank you so much for this. Friend was coming over for coffee, made this in a hurray. Alas, out of vanilla, so used almond extract, used light rum instead of dark, and coconut sugar instead of white. Still came out delicious! Everyone loved it, and asked for seconds. Four people all together and very little cake left (she took home to-go as well). Will make this cake often.

    • — Vicki on February 19, 2024
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  • Love this cake but can I use shredded apples instead of chunks of apples?

    • — Carol S O'Neill on February 19, 2024
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    • Hi Carol, I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure, but I’m a little worried that shredding the apples would make the cake soggy, so I’d stick with dicing them. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 19, 2024
      • Reply
  • also, is the dark rum necessary to be added or is it optional? thanks

    • — ching on February 14, 2024
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    • I’f you’d prefer not to use the rum, you can replace it with apple juice, apple cider, or milk. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 14, 2024
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  • hi, may I know what is the exact amount of flour meant by ‘1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off’ , sorry that I don’t understand how many gram does this indicate ? I am a beginner in baking.

    • — ching on February 14, 2024
    • Reply
    • 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 14, 2024
      • Reply
  • What temp for fan oven – 150C?

    • — Karen on February 4, 2024
    • Reply
    • Yes, that’s what I’d recommend. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 5, 2024
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  • So delicious! The hardest part was chopping the apples. Made it for the first time for friends and all raved about it. I had to share the recipe! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Julianne Banquer on February 3, 2024
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  • I have been having apple issues with this cake. The last one I made I measured out the apples and it was way too many chunks. This one I weighed the apples, both 7 ounces, and cut them smaller. Still had to pull some out of the batter. Is there a gram equivalent for this? Thank you for your wonderful site. We make many of your dishes and really enjoy eating and making! That’s a first for me.

    • — Cynthia on February 2, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Cynthia, glad you like the recipes but sorry you’ve struggled with the amount of apples to use in this one. 3½ – 4 cups is the equivalent of 405 – to 460 grams. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2024
      • Reply
    • I made the recipe just as written. However, the apples were a bit crunchy when the cake was done.
      Is that how they are supposed to be?

      • — Jo-Anne Barnard on February 11, 2024
      • Reply
      • Hi Jo-Anne, the apples should be pretty tender after the cake is baked. Next time, try dicing them a bit smaller.

        • — Jenn on February 12, 2024
        • Reply
  • My cake was so moist; the next day the flavor developed even more. I was hoping it would last two days, it didn’t. I plan to make this cake again.

    • — Thelma Butler on February 1, 2024
    • Reply
  • Can I caramelize the apples before adding them to the batter?

    • — LNPD on January 28, 2024
    • Reply
    • I don’t think I’d recommend it. I worry that caramelizing them will take any tartness away and they may be a bit too soft after the cake bakes. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on January 30, 2024
      • Reply
  • Wonderful cake!! Sorry I didn’t think of taking a picture before my company and I had a go at it! It might have rivaled your photo, it was so perfect! 🙂 Lucious, moist, dense without being too much so, and very simple to put together. I actually used BochaSweet sweetener instead of cane sugar as my husband is prediabetic and I sub out cane sugar whenever I can. Again, a perfect result. Served it room temp with whipped cream, but I think it would’ve been even better, if possible, served warm with a dollop of ice cream. Next time that’s how I’ll roll. Thanks for the great recipe, Jenn. I have a lot of faith in everything you put out, because so far all of it has been spot on! Thanks, once more, for your efforts!

    • — Sandy on January 27, 2024
    • Reply
  • Stumbled on this one while I was looking for “what to do” with three getting old apples. Easy and delicious! Used all three apples with Demerara sugar on top.

    • — Virginia on January 24, 2024
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  • This is great recipe! Delicious and one of the easiest recipes to put together, thank you Jenn
    Angela

    • — Angela on January 21, 2024
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    • Hi, I absolutely LOVE this recipe! So divine yet so easy! I consider myself a beginner, low intermediate baker. I’ve made this cake several times & it has been perfect EVERY TIME. Seems hard to mess this one up.
      Question- I’m sure this question has been posted but I don’t have time to go through all the comments. I’d LOVE to make this for my girlfriends get together this weekend, but how do I make it vegan & gluten-free and still make it taste as amazing?

      • — Cindi on January 31, 2024
      • Reply
      • So glad you like it! A number of people have made it gluten-free and/or vegan. For the flour, a number of readers have commented that they have good luck with King Arthur Measure for Measure gluten-free flour and Cup4Cup gluten-free flour. For the butter, you could substitute a non dairy butter or (solidified) coconut oil.
        Last for the eggs, two of the best substitutes I’ve heard about (I haven’t personally tried either of them) are a combination of water, oil, and baking powder, and carbonated water. Scroll down to the bottom of this article for more information about both. I would assume this would also work with some kind of store-bought egg substitute. Hope it comes out well and your friends enjoy!

        • — Jenn on January 31, 2024
        • Reply
  • Can you substitute whiskey for the rum?

    • — Stephanie on January 21, 2024
    • Reply
    • Yep – enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 22, 2024
      • Reply
  • We love this recipe so much, I always make the recipe X 4 and freeze 3 for unexpected dinner parties or Sunday treats 😋

    • — C. on January 18, 2024
    • Reply
  • In your opinion, would this be too sweet or too rich if I were to top it with a cream cheese icing from a failed banana cake (not your recipe!). I have a lot of icing to use up and don’t want to do another banana cake.

    • — Helen on January 17, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Helen, This really doesn’t need frosting because the cake is not overly sweet, but I think you can get away with it. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 18, 2024
      • Reply
    • Easy and delicious. This will be something I make regularly. Thank you!

      • — Rachel on January 21, 2024
      • Reply
  • Followed the recipe exactly as written. It turned out as pictured and was taste tested by all those present once the cake cooled down a bit. Thumbs up from everyone! Yum freakin’ delicious!!!! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • — Rupert on January 17, 2024
    • Reply
  • Easy and tasty!

    • — JR on January 16, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    From the UK here! Made the cake last night for a girls movie night and served it with warm custard.

    Recipe is completely fool proof and I even added some chopped walnuts I had leftover in the cupboard that needed using up. So pretty when it comes out the oven and absolutely delicious!

    • — MSLS24 on January 16, 2024
    • Reply
  • Great recipe, I made it with some Bartlett pears and used amaretto instead of rum. The cake is very light and buttery, and the amaretto gave it a hint of almond flavor. I’ll definitely make it again!

    • — Keely on January 15, 2024
    • Reply
  • This was AMAZING. Such an easy recipe but man did it deliver. My grandpa and I had two slices each it was that good. I even used white Malibu rum because that’s all I had on hand. Thank you for such a great recipe!

    • — carly on January 13, 2024
    • Reply
  • Great recipe that anyone can make. And of course it smells and tastes heavely! Thanks for putting it out there for all of us to enjoy!!

    • — Ana on January 13, 2024
    • Reply
  • I’d like to make this (I don’t make many desserts). Can this be made a day ahead of serving? Thank you.
    MariaM

    • — Maria Fontana on January 13, 2024
    • Reply
    • Sure, Maria, this cake keeps nicely. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 15, 2024
      • Reply
  • I just realized I bought white rum instead! Will this work? I need to make it tonight 😬
    Thank you!

    • — JR on January 12, 2024
    • Reply
    • Yep!

      • — Jenn on January 12, 2024
      • Reply
      • Thank you, Jenn. it came out great. Lots of compliments and so good with morning coffee! We skipped the powdered sugar.

        as a side note, when I ask a question about a recipe, should the reply be coming to my email too? Or do I have to go back into the comment section?
        Thank you

        • — JR on January 17, 2024
        • Reply
        • So glad it came out nicely! You won’t get a notification when your comment is answered, so you should just check back periodically. 😊

          • — Jenn on January 17, 2024
          • Reply
  • This is a simple cake to make and delicious to eat. I would make this again! I used spiced rum and it worked well with the apples!

    • — Mary Ellen B. on January 8, 2024
    • Reply
  • Love it!
    I made this for my family and it was delicious! The recipe was very easy to follow, will definitely make this again.

    • — S. Davis on January 7, 2024
    • Reply
    • I’ve made this cake dozens of times and LOVE it! It’s perfect as written and is a great base to try new fruits and flavors. I just made one with lemon juice + zest (instead of the rum) and topped with blueberries. Delish!!

      • — CARMEN on January 27, 2024
      • Reply
  • This just ok. It’s very pretty (I used springform) and the cake is mostly apples. There just isn’t a lot of flavor and thankfully not too sweet.
    I’ll make it again, it’s not a cake to WoW your friends with, but it’s good
    I Love your website Jenn!!! I make many of your recipes. Thank You

    • — Matrissa on January 7, 2024
    • Reply
  • This was soooo good. It was my second time making this and I added in a handful of chopped walnuts. I usually have a heavy pour but made sure to stick to 3 tbs of dark rum, and it was just perfect!

    • — Tammy on January 7, 2024
    • Reply
  • Easy and just wonderful!

    • — Jackie on January 7, 2024
    • Reply

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