French Apple Cake

Tested & Perfected Recipes

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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Reviews & Comments

  • Turned out amazing. So delicious and simple to make. The only I thing I did different was I changed the sugar to brown sugar and used Turbinado sugar to sprinkle on the top. It had a deeper carmel flavor. My family loved it! Thanks for sharing!

    • — Thersa on October 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • Excellent, and easy to make. No rum, used bourbon. Found the alcohol flavor a little strong, though not disagreeable, will try it with milk next time, or maybe another type of liquor. Just bought cookbook, look forward to trying more recipes.

    • — Susan Ridgway on October 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • I went apple picking and had 25 apples to work through. After making pies and crumbles, I came across this cake recipe! LOVE IT! The first time I used 3 small/medium apples diced into 1cm cubes. The cake was amazing and I followed the recipe exactly! Then I still had 4 apples left, so the second time I made this cake used all 4 remaining apples of the same small/med size. It was lovely with the extra apple, not overwhelmingly apple-ish but just perfect and the texture was beautiful too! I added some cinnamon the second time and it had more of a spiced fall flavor which was lovely! This will be joining my usual set of fall baking recipes! Thanks so much for this!

    • — Amy on October 25, 2021
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  • I made this after being inspired from Jen’s blog. It was delicious but the rum level is strong so for an adult dessert following a slow dinner and a dinner party that appreciates a boozy dessert….perfect. For bringing to work or gifting….I’d recommend reducing the rum by half. You still get the flavor but the alcohol odor is more subtle. This cake freezes well which is great when dinner parties are small. Half the cake is suitable for a 4 person dinner party.

    • — Sarah McConnell on October 25, 2021
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  • Delicious and very pretty looking! I used a 9 inch springform pan, well buttered, and two large Honey Crisp apples which gave me about 3 1/2 cups chopped apple. Just right! Made it yesterday morning for dessert last night, and served it at room temp with some whipping cream. I’m looking forward to trying a piece this morning with my coffee!

    • — Sandra H. on October 25, 2021
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  • I had a few raggedy apples that I cut the good parts off of. Because it called for chopped apples, it worked beautifully. This cake is simple and came together easily. Not too sweet, just delightful.

    • — Linda on October 24, 2021
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  • This was INSANELY delicious and easy. The recipe said 3.3-4 cups of apples, but to use two apples. I used 4 cups, which I think was too much because it wasn’t as cakey as your photo.

    • — Ho Made on October 22, 2021
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  • Love this cake! Made it for my mother (immigrated Italian) who loved it and now makes it religiously! Now my nonna (grandmother) is making it!! It’s just perfectly light and hits the sweet spot. I even used spiced rum and I always add cinnamon to my apples which gives it the perfect touch. Thank you for another great recipe. 🙂

    • — Lexba84 on October 21, 2021
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  • This is one of my favorite recipes from Jenn (and there are many!). I’ve made this dozens of times always to rave reviews. Sometimes I use turbinado sugar for the top, sprinkling on for the last five minutes of baking. We also love individual slices reheated in toaster oven so that the edges get a little crunchy. Love Jenn’s recipes — have both cookbooks — thanks Jenn for sharing!

    • — Debbie on October 21, 2021
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    • My new “go to” apple dessert. This is fantastic.
      Have you made it with spiced rum?

      • — Glen on October 24, 2021
      • Reply
      • Glad you like it! I haven’t made it with spiced rum, but you definitely could.

        • — Jenn on October 25, 2021
        • Reply
  • I am about to make the cake for the first time and therefore couldn’t rate it but based on the reviews I’m sure I will love it. One question: could it be made with cranberries instead of apples perhaps with a few changes?

    • — Madeleine on October 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Madeleine, unfortunately, I don’t think this would work with cranberries as they are significantly more tart than apples and you’d need to change the amount of sugar in the recipe (which may throw other ingredients off). I do have this cranberry nut bread recipe if you’d like to give it a try.

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2021
      • Reply
  • Excellent! Husband even liked and he is an apple cake snob.

    • — Elaine on October 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • I baked but have not tasted… smells divine… but would you suggest an 8” springform vs 9” for more height? And how would that effect bake time?

    • — Ellen on October 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Ellen, An 8-inch pan will give you slightly more height. It may take about 5 more minutes in the oven, but keep a close eye on it. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this and it was delicious. I made some modifications. I added 1/4 tsp more vanilla, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and 3tbs of dark rum to the apples. I served at room temp.
    Sprinkled with powdered sugar

    • — Daniel on October 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • I bake all the time and decided to try this recipe. The apple chunks and the texture of the cake were perfect but the flavor of the rum was overpowering. I made it for my son’s birthday party, thankfully as a second cake and nobody finished their piece. Perhaps it was the rum I used but I am shocked at the number of 5 star reviews for this recipe.

    • — Mari on October 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can you add some walnuts? Would it alter the cake in any way?

    • — Dijana Xocoy on October 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, that’s fine. Just make sure to chop them. (If the pieces are too large, it will make the cut difficult to slice.) Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is a great easy dessert. I loved it because not too sweet. I just topped with powdered sugar. Fantastic with coffee. I made this with a regular 9-inch cake pan.

    • — D. Baker on October 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this and it turned out great & was delicious. As suggested, I used a 9in spring form pan but would probably use an 8in pan next time to give the cake a little more height. I might try baking it with some different fruit as well as I think it could work well with berries and figs.

    • — A Torrey on October 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have been making this cake over and over for at least for a couple of years. Just wanted to mention that back in Japan, where I moved from less than 2 years ago, ALL my friends and acquaintances absolutely loved it, and they were asking me to translate and share the recipe to them! So easy and delicious—just perfect!

    • — Naomi on October 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Thank you for this recipe. I have made it so many times and always delish.
    Actually baking one now.

    • — Linda on October 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • I love this cake and so does my family. We make it regularly and always it turns out perfectly. I often use bourbon instead of rum and it is great. Thanks for this recipe.

    • — KNEH on October 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • Moist, delicious, easy and so French. The apple flavor is lovely without the usual cinnamon found in most American apple desserts. I didn’t have rum on hand so used brandy instead.

    • — Mary on October 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • delicious tasting cake with nice crunch top BUT batter DID NOT cook even though it was tested with a toothpick and came out clean, had to toss. Used 2 1/2 cups diced apples.

    • — mamabaker on October 9, 2021
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  • I just HAD to respond when I saw that can of Clabber Girl baking powder in the photo. I can’t wait to make this cake, HOWEVER, some of us can taste the aluminum in baking powder! Who knew? For those of you who don’t, consider yourself lucky, but there are some people who get a horrible taste of metal. ALL bakers could elevate their baked offerings if only they would use a non-aluminum baking powder like Rumford. It’s an easy switch, with the only difference being that it is faster acting, so the time from mixing with liquids until it’s put in the oven should not be delayed.

    • — Merrilyn on October 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • Good evening, I am eating a slice warm from the oven and it’s really delicious. I did not have dark rum, so I used buttermilk instead. I made a recipe and a half and it perfectly filled a 10 in springform pan. I will definitely be making this again! Out of curiosity, would Bacardi light rum work? I was afraid the flavor would not come through which is why I used buttermilk. Thank you for a great recipe!

    • — Amy on October 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, light rum should work here as well.

      • — Jenn on October 10, 2021
      • Reply
  • Just delish. Must try. Light and just enough sweetness but not overpowering.

    • — Carolyn Arce on October 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I’ve made this recipe over and over. My husband and all of our friends loved this recipe. It is easy, delicious, and perfect. I have light rum. Should I use more rum?
    Thank you,
    Barbara

    • — barbara on October 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Barbara, So glad you’ve enjoyed it! No need to use additional rum if the kind that you have is light brown. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 10, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I have made this tart a few times and it’s delicious. For change, wondering if I could substitute pears instead of apples? If so, what type of pears and level of ripeness?
    Thanks so much.

    Anne

    • — Anne Spiteri on October 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann, So glad you like the cake! I haven’t tried this with pears but I think it should work. I’d go with either Bosc or Anjou. I’d stick with 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 October 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • Despite looking a little broken up, this cake came out FANTASTIC! Our guests and my husband loved it – couldn’t stop raving about it. I think I need to reduce the amount of apples (I had small apples so I thought I’d use three instead of two) and definitely check on the cake after 30 minutes’ baking. It probably needed to come out a few minutes sooner.

    • — Lulu on October 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this for our dessert today. It was wonderful. Followed the recipe exactly and used my springform pan. Thank you!

    • — Linda on October 5, 2021
    • Reply
  • My husband loves apple cake. The name of this one was so intriguing and I had all the ingredients and decided to give it a try.

    It is so delicious and was a big winner with my husband. This will move into first place of all the other cake recipes I have. 😋

    • — Robin Potter on October 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • First recipe I have tried from your website. Winner. I love a simple cake and searched on many of my regular sites only to find too many spices. Yours is just the perfect, easy, tasty treat. Thank you. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

    • — Diana Padgett on October 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this cake and it turned out wonderfully. I switched out the rum for wine. I wish I had some heavy cream for.on top. Delicious

    • — Tanya on October 2, 2021
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  • I made this recipe so many times. It’s wonderful. Can I bake this recipe as muffins?

    • — Lea on October 1, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! You could definitely bake this as muffins. I’d start checking around 20 minutes. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on October 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • Really glad I made this. I switched out the rum for apple juice cider, added half a small apple more and put some cinnamon in the batter and on the apple cubes and it came out great! I even used GF flour (and half a tsp of xanthum gum) and it STILL came out light and fluffy. Can’t buy GF cakes this lovely in cafes (BTW if I have to eat one more GF orange almond cake I will sue all cafes in my immediate area for painful unoriginality) Definitely my go-to cake now.
    I really appreciate the clear instructions too.

    • — Elizabeth B on October 1, 2021
    • Reply
    • LOL — glad you liked it!

      • — Jenn on October 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • Can this be made with Gluten Free flour?

    • — Carmel Philippe on September 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure – a lot of readers have made it successfully with gluten-free flour. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • Jenn, what name brand of dark rum do you use and where can I purchase it? Thank you, Kathleen

    • — Kathleen Schools on September 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathleen, I use Mount Gay and I think you can find it in any liquor store. (BTW, if you aren’t able to find that brand, any brand of dark rum will work.) Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • I can’t wait to try this. Do you use table salt or kosher salt? If the latter, Diamond Crystal?

    • — Michael Roes on September 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Michael, table salt is what I intended here. For future reference, when a recipe of mine says salt in the ingredient list, I am referring to regular/table salt. If it calls for something else like kosher salt, I will specify that in the recipe. Hope you enjoy the cake!

      • — Jenn on September 30, 2021
      • Reply
      • Can you use rum extract?

        • — CP on October 12, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hi CP, If you want to use rum extract, you can substitute 1 teaspoon rum extract plus 2-1/2 tablespoons apple juice or apple cider. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on October 12, 2021
          • Reply
  • Very good! Super moist!

    • — Maria on September 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can I substitute buttermilk for the rum or would regular milk be better?

    • — Sabrina on September 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • I’d stick with regular milk. 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 29, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is a great apple cake. I made the following customizations; added 1/2t cinnamon and 1/4t ginger to the apples. Used Disaronno instead of rum and added sliced almonds to the top.IMO you can use most any dark alcohol. We actually like it better the next morning and just had a slice with coffee.

    • — charrington on September 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This cake was absolutely delicious, and the recipe was so simple to follow! The only thing I changed was using less sugar – about 2 tablespoons – and it was still sweet enough. Thank you for this recipe 🙂

    • — Jamie on September 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this yesterday to bring to a friend’s home for dessert. I multiplied by 1.5 in order to make a larger cake in a springform pan, used Tortuga Gold rum instead of dark, and sprinkled some roasted cinnamon on top with the sugar. Two hours after coming out of the oven, the rum still lightly scented the room. As other reviewers have said, this recipe turns out SO VERY WELL. One person ate almost half the cake himself, he said it was that good (he asked for seconds twice!). I served some of the leftover cake to a friend at an impromptu brunch today and he loved it, too. I want to try it again, next time with Amaretto as other reviewers have used or suggested. Fabulous!

    • — Donna Stolz on September 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • Lovely cake. I like to add 2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder and some lemon juice to my chopped apples and sprinkle some almond flakes and sugar on top of the uncooked cake for extra taste before cooking.

    • — Kee on September 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Can I substitute Skinny Caramel Syrup on place of rum?

      • — Pat on September 27, 2021
      • Reply
      • I’m not familiar with it so I’d be reluctant to suggest it. If you don’t have/don’t want to use the rum, you could replace it with apple juice, apple cider, or milk. Hope that helps!

        • — Jenn on September 27, 2021
        • Reply
  • What if I do not have parchment paper? Also, what are the alternatives to rum that I can use?

    • — Courtney on September 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Courtney, you can get away with using a cake pan and no parchment paper as long as the pan is nonstick and you treat it with either cooking spray or butter and flour it. And you can substitute apple juice, apple cider, or milk for the rum. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 28, 2021
      • Reply
    • The cake is delicious. however it is a very low profile cake, more like a tart. I put it in a 9inch springform pan. The photo shows it as being a bit taller than mine. Is this how it is supposed to be?

      • — Angela on October 4, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi Angela, Glad you like it. The photo may be a bit deceiving but this cake definitely has a low profile so you’re not doing anything wrong.

        • — Jenn on October 6, 2021
        • Reply
  • An easy cake to make with a subtle buttery taste. The top browned nicely giving it a lovely flavour and slight crispness. I found a jar of rum soaked raisins in a jar in my pantry and added some of those to the batter, as well as the apples. A double batch was the perfect amount for a 13 x 9 pan.

    • — Gail on September 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • WOW, delicious. I cut my apples small and had to substitute vanilla bourbon for the rum as I had none. the best apple cake I ever had.

      This recipe is a keeper.

      • — Janis on September 24, 2021
      • Reply
  • This recipe is divine. Super easy to make with pantry ingredients and what a show stopper! The cake is actually light and delicious. It presents like it came from an expensive patisserie- this will be on permanent rotation during apple season and beyond. Thank you Jenn

    • — Jorge Ramon on September 23, 2021
    • Reply

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