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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

Cake ingredients including egg, butter, and baking powder.

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

Glass bowl of unmixed dry ingredients.

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

Whisk in a bowl of dry ingredients.

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

Bowl of creamed butter and sugar.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Egg added to a bowl of creamed butter and sugar.

Beat in the vanilla extract and rum.

Vanilla and rum in a bowl of creamed butter, sugar, and eggs.

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

Bowl of light-yellow creamed mixture.

Add the dry ingredients.

Dry ingredients in a bowl with a creamed mixture.

Mix until just combined.

Bowl of cake batter.

Add the chopped apples.

Apples in a bowl of cake batter.

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

Apples and cake batter folded in a bowl.

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

Greased cake pan.

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

Cake pan full of apple batter.

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.

Cake pan of apple batter topped with sugar.

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

French apple cake in a cake pan.

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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  • I have made this cake many times. The cake turned out amazing the first few times. They looked like your cake, Jenn! Lately, they started to be flat. They came out half an inch thick. What did I do wrong?

    • — JKoo on May 11, 2024
    • Reply
    • I’m sorry you’ve had a problem with this recently! Is your baking powder old or expired?

      • — Jenn on May 13, 2024
      • Reply
  • Can I double the recipe and still bake in a 23cm round tin and get the same texture?
    I love this recipe but I need to serve more people.

    • — Cindy on May 4, 2024
    • Reply
    • Sure, Cindy, that will work — it will just take longer to bake so keep a close eye on it. (And glad you like it!)

      • — Jenn on May 4, 2024
      • Reply
  • Is there a good alternative to rum?
    I’ve baked this before and it was delicious.
    I want to make it for a party but need it to have no alcohol in it

    • — A on April 29, 2024
    • Reply
    • Sure, you can replace it with apple juice, apple cider, or milk. Glad you’ve enjoyed it!

      • — Jenn on April 29, 2024
      • Reply
  • Had the texture of a pound cake. This was a “fresher”, lighter cake that accompanied our lasagna. I added pears and orange zest to the apples with an extra tablespoon (or 2 or 3 🫢😀) of rum. Soooooo delicious! Only one piece left.

    • — Laurie Hoffman on April 27, 2024
    • Reply
  • Great recipe! Just wondering, how long would I adjust cook time if I doubled up the recipe but put it in the same pan?

    • — Jenn on April 25, 2024
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! I’d guesstimate it will take about 60 minutes, but keep a close eye on it!

      • — Jenn on April 26, 2024
      • Reply
  • Can you bake this a day ahead and leave out on counter overnight?

    • — Paula ONeal on April 18, 2024
    • Reply
    • Yep!

      • — Jenn on April 18, 2024
      • Reply
  • Hi! Can’t wait to try this . My son is having an “ around the world picnic” at school. If I made this and replaced the rum with milk, would the flavor be just as good ?

    • — Ellie on April 11, 2024
    • Reply
    • Sure, Ellie, milk would be fine. You can also use apple juice or apple cider. Hope the picnic is fun!

      • — Jenn on April 12, 2024
      • Reply
  • This was honestly one of the best desserts I have ever had. I wanted to make something different for my husband’s birthday, and I happened to come upon this recipe online. I followed it exactly except I substituted gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour) for the wheat flour, since I am gluten intolerant.
    It came out so much better than I expected. I will definitely make this again and explore more of your recipes. Thank you so much for this divine dessert!!!

    • — Shelley Joachim on April 10, 2024
    • Reply
    • I substituted 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons of gf oat flour for the regular flour to make it gluten free – it was just fabulous. Just another option.

      • — Alissa Chambers on April 11, 2024
      • Reply
    • Everyone loves this cake. Could I use brandy instead of rum?

      • — Mary on April 27, 2024
      • Reply
      • Sure (and glad the cake is a hit)!

        • — Jenn on April 29, 2024
        • Reply
  • Absolutely gorgeous cake. Only had one apple so used a pear too. This recipe is a keeper.

    • — Beverley Wood on April 7, 2024
    • Reply
  • I tried your French apple cake last year & wrote the recipe down to my favourite recipes.
    Somehow, I have forgotten about it since I have been trying many many recipes all year. Today, I tried again and I thought you deserve good review. The best apple cake & I don’t even like apple cake. The only reason I made it because my hubby loves anything to do with apple. I must say, the best and now I enjoy it too. A must try, super easy to make too.

    • — explorefood715 on April 6, 2024
    • Reply
  • Can I use this recipe to make small muffins ?

    • — Sylvana on April 4, 2024
    • Reply
    • Sure, Sylvana, that will work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 4, 2024
      • Reply
  • This is such a forgiving recipe. I hadn’t paid attention to the directions in terms of mixing the dry and wet ingredients and ended up using one bowl to mix the dry and then wet ingredients. I wasn’t sure how my cake would turn out. To my surprise, it came out exactly as in the picture! The cake smelled so good while it was baking, and it came out nicely and the apple chunks were the right tenderness. I love that it is not too sweet. This is definitely a keeper and will make sure I read the directions a few times (LOL).

    • — Lou on April 2, 2024
    • Reply

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