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, cover 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

  • Easy and delicious recipe!

    • — R. on December 3, 2020
    • Reply
  • I have made this recipe twice, once with sweet apples, as called for, and once with Granny Smith because that’s what I had on hand. Both were great, but I found the Granny Smith apples made this cake even tastier. Such an easy recipe. It’s a keeper!

    • — Joy on December 2, 2020
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  • I was skeptical , but my wife used gluten free flour and it came out excellent! One of the best desserts in long time.

    • — Richard C Mytkowicz on December 2, 2020
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  • This French Apple Cake is wonderful and one I will make over and over.

    • — Bob Koziel on November 29, 2020
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    • I made this cake using apple cider with just a drop or two of almond extract as a substitute for the rum. I am not sure how mild the cake with rum was supposed to taste but unfortunately I was very very disappointed with the flavor. I would not suggest substituting apple juice or apple cider. In addition shortly after I started baking these in springform pans, the oven started smoking and I realized the batter was seeping out the bottom. Did no one else have a problem with using springform pans?!
      Unfortunately, and maybe because of the substitution I made, I was not impressed. ( Think it may have a bit if ‘smoke’ taste too due to dripping & smoking in oven 🙁 … sure that doesn’t help the flavor either 😉

      • — CC on December 2, 2020
      • Reply
      • I will add that I did taste a little bit of the edges as I transferred the partially cooked batter from the springform pans into a bundt cake pan. I finished baking it in the bundt cake pan and just tasted again this morning… And yes it definitely has some of the smoke flavor so it went into the trash :(. Just wondering though… the part I tasted before there was smoke in the oven seemed very, very mild – almost too mild – wondering what the flavor would be like with rum. Not sure if I would like it or not.

        • — CC on December 2, 2020
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      • Why would you review a recipe after you’ve made modifications that did not work out?

        • — Christine on December 2, 2020
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        • I understand your point, but simply because someone mentioned, though maybe not Jenn, that apple cider could be substituted. I did not care for that flavor.

          • — CC on December 2, 2020
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      • This is a wonderful cake if you follow the recipe. The rum is necessary to flavor the cake. I have made the cake many times and have never had a problem with the batter leaking from the springform pan.

        • — JAZ on December 3, 2020
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      • Hi CC! If it helps, I have NEVER had luck with springform pans. I’ve tried many types and they always leak. As a result, I almost always use cake pans lined on the bottom and sides with parchment like she mentioned in the recipe. If I absolutely have to use a springform, I’ll try lining the bottom with a few layers of parchment or aluminum foil before adding the outer ring – sometimes that helps create a tighter seal. Just an idea if you’ve never tried. Happy baking!

        • — adh on December 5, 2020
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  • I love the recipe for its simplicity and ease. My family also really enjoyed trying something new!

    • — Fayla on November 28, 2020
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  • This cake was so, so good! I only used 1/2 c of sugar and it was plenty sweet for me. Can’t wait to make this again and try your other recipes!

    • — Helen on November 28, 2020
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  • I made this recipe yesterday for thanksgiving and it was a hit! I also made several of your other recipes and I loved everything. Thank you!

    • — Jace on November 27, 2020
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  • Hi Jen! Can I bake this recipe in two separate 4-inch heart pans? If yes, how long should I bake them for? Thank you so much. Love your recipe 🙂

    • — Grace Sukamto on November 25, 2020
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    • Sure, Grace – It’s hard to say what the cook time would be. I’d start checking around 30 minutes.

      • — Jenn on November 26, 2020
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  • First time making this cake and not only is it the best apple dessert I have ever tasted but looks so beautiful especially with the icing sugar. Now seriously, tell me something. You say this cake can be frozen but are you actually going to be able to pry this cake out of your husband’s, children and/or grandchildren’s hands? I don’t think so. Better to make 2 – 4 so that you can satisfy your family and hide/freeze the rest. Just saying.

    • — Debora Gonek on November 25, 2020
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  • Can I make this cake in a bundt pan? What size would I need?

    • — Emily on November 24, 2020
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    • You could double this and bake it in a bundt pan (keep in mind that I haven’t tried it but I think it should work). I’d recommend a 10-inch bundt. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on November 24, 2020
      • Reply
  • Will this recipe work well with Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour?

    • — Diana Choppin on November 23, 2020
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    • A number of readers have commented that they’ve made this successfully with gluten-free flour, so I think you can feel confident trying it. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 24, 2020
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  • I can’t wait to make this for Thanksgiving! I am completely unfamiliar with rum though 😂. What kind/brand do you recommend? There are so many options!

    • — Chelsea on November 23, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Chelsea, Any brand will work, but I happen to use Mount Gay. Hope you enjoy the cake!

      • — Jenn on November 24, 2020
      • Reply
  • Very good recipe. My husband ate half and I ate the other half. We loved it. Easy to make. Thank you

    • — Diane on November 23, 2020
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  • Question: what can I substitute (non-alcohol) for the dark rum. is there anything? Thank you.

    • — Vicki Cohen on November 23, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure – you can use apple juice or apple cider. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 23, 2020
      • Reply
      • Wonderful recipe – I made this today with Granny Smith apples: buttery cake and tart/sweet apples are a great combination. Quick and easy to make, too. Definitely a keeper.

        • — Cindy K on December 1, 2020
        • Reply
  • Just made this cake, it was absolutely fabulous, so easy and delicious. I used Flor de Cana rum we bought on our last trip to Nicaragua, so tasty; it turned out beautiful.

    Would definitely do again!
    Thanks

    Thanks

    • — Mirza Carrillo on November 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is AWESOME! My husband and I don’t even like cake, but I had extra Honeycrisp apples and needed a recipe for them. We ate it warm and it was outstanding. So easy to make, and making sure the apples are in the chunks you suggest is perfect, I used the full 4 cups. Didn’t even bother with whipped cream or ice cream. This is a keeper. Glad I made the trip to replenish our dark rum supply, it adds a nice flavor that’s a surpise. I’d like to try other fruit like peaches and amaretto but not sure if it would work as well. Maybe just stick to apples? Thank you for such an easy, great recipe!

    • — Laurie on November 21, 2020
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  • I have made this cake precisely as written several dozen times over the last few years and it is so very delicious.

    However: I am out of apples and rum in this lockdown. But I have fresh cranberries and brandy and am feeling ever so experimental and brave…

    • — Karin on November 20, 2020
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  • Hi Jen,
    Can Amaretto be substituted for the dark rum?

    • — Marion B Noble on November 20, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yep – enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made this cake yesterday. It was definitely easy and very tasty with the apples, vanilla, and rum. I will make this again for sure. Keep those recipes coming and thank you again for sharing.

    • — Joseph on November 19, 2020
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  • One problem I have, what size of the cup by ml 200 or 250ml?I’m a beginner and I don’t understand measurement by cup?

    • — Sylvia on November 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Sylvia, 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 and that you enjoy the cake!

      • — Jenn on November 19, 2020
      • Reply
  • The best cake I’ve ever tasted. I have been baking like crazy because I bought 2 boxes of champagne apples and been sharing with family and neighbors. They all love it!

    • — Diana Matier on November 17, 2020
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  • best Apple cake recipe so quick to make, it’s my go to recipe now ! I didn’t add any rum or apple juice, just left it plain with chunks of pink lady apples I tend to use 3 per cake, the topping I make using some mixed caster sugar and cinnamon on top of cake, great to eat with cream or ice cream, warmed up

    • — MARIA SICILIANO on November 16, 2020
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  • A light dessert, not overly sweet and one of the few apple recipes that doesn’t have cinnamon. While I love cinnamon, I enjoyed an apple dessert featuring rum for flavoring. Simple, delicious recipe.

    • — Rhonda on November 15, 2020
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    • I am a serious chocoholic but I stepped out and gotta say – this cake is AMAZing. BEAUTIFUL! Now have made it twice in a week – and I don’t even like cake so much. All of your recipes have changed my life – now it appears to my husband that I can cook. Muchos gracias!

      • — Lulu on November 17, 2020
      • Reply
      • Is it okay to serve to children?

        • — Ling on November 20, 2020
        • Reply
        • Yep!

          • — Jenn on November 20, 2020
          • Reply
  • Just made this and it is amazingly light, buttery and full of appley goodness. I will make this again and again! Thank you.

    • — Chrys on November 15, 2020
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  • Since discovering this recipe, I have made it three times. Obviously, I REALLY like it. Today, I substituted Bosc pears for the apples and Amaretto for the rum. I added some sliced almonds to the top before baking and then added the confectioners’ sugar following baking as called for in the recipe and it was fabulous. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

    Ann O

    • — Ann O on November 14, 2020
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  • The best apple cake ever !!! Will gain pounds this winter. Amazing. Simple and delicious 😋
    Thank you for sharing this recipe with us. Thank you for not hiding “a little something”.

    • — DV on November 14, 2020
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  • Really deserving of all the raves, this is truly a French cake – not too sweet but full of flavor. I used apple cider instead of rum and I forgot the sugar on top! It would have added a nice crunch but it made a delicious light dessert all the same. Thank you!

    • — Tania on November 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • Just made it and it was very delicious and very simple, I followed all step by step. It came out beautifully but not high as seen in the picture most likely because did it with Stevia blend (I can not use sugar and did it for me).

    Thanks Jenn, I love your recipes.

    I will send a picture.

    Iliana

    • — Iliana Mendez on November 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • I have made this numerous times and it’s always delicious!

    • — Emily on November 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can this be made the day before? Is it best to be stored at room temperature until serving? I think this would be a perfect thanksgiving dessert.

    Thank you

    • — Ali on November 13, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yes, this can be made a day ahead and stored on the counter. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on November 13, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made this and it was amazing. I made some minor changes: I used half the butter, and added half avocado vegan butter, exchanged half the regular flour with whole wheat flour, left the peels on home-grown, unsprayed apples, and sprinkled the top with chopped pistachios and Werther’s Original caramel hard candies that had been ground in the food processor because it is fall, and I was hankering for some caramel apples. I used apple brandy instead of the rum, and no vanilla (although, with Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, I bet it would be sublime). I also was a much lazier cook-I mixed the butters, sugar in a 4 cup measure with a fork until well combined, but by no means “fluffy”, then added the eggs before dumping the wet into the dry ingredients and apples. It was totally forgiving-it looked like the pictures except the cake was darker because of the whole wheat flour. It tastes awesome, and you can just throw it together.

    • — Anita Graves on November 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • Just made it and it was very delicious and very simple👍

    • — Sana on November 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • Excellent cake! Easy to make and the volume of batter is just right for the 9″ square brownie pan I used. I lined the pan with foil and used cooking spray, it released perfectly. I only made this once, but really can’t think of any adjustments that might be needed. I think doubling the recipe would make a very nice 9×13 portion, for a larger group.

    • — Carol on November 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • This cake is excellent! It did not have any of the issues I might have feared when hearing the words “apple cake”, like excessive moisture, or gummy texture. Nor was it just a one-note cinnamon bomb. I’ve made it 3 times now, this last time with pecans arranged in a ring on top, and a sprinkling of unsweetened coconut. Delicious! Thank you Ms. Jenn 🙂

    • — Isabelle Richard on November 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made it for my brother’s bday! It was a smash hit! So moist, rich, and delicious. Doesn’t even need ice cream (although ice cream can never hurt). I used Amaretto/vodka because I didn’t have any rum and it was great!

    • — Emily on November 10, 2020
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  • Would I be able to use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose?

    • — Ashley on November 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ashley, I’d suggest starting by using half whole wheat and half all-purpose to make sure you like the texture. If you do like it, the next time you make this, you can up the ratio of whole wheat to white a bit more. Also, you may want to consider white whole wheat as it’s lighter and milder tasting than regular whole wheat flour (yet just as nutritious). I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • My mom still cuts me gallon-sized bags of large fuji apples to snack on for a whole week. I didn’t want to waste it, so I googled apple cakes and came upon this recipe. I loved it. It’s buttery, sugary and the apples came out softened but with a slight bite to it. I had all of the ingredients on hand already so no need to go to the grocery store. I omitted the rum since I’m not a fan of alcohol-infused cakes. The batter was super thick which made me concerned that I made it wrong or the butter wasn’t room temp enough. When I went to add the apples in, it seemed like an extreme amount of apples so I omitted about a handful, but next time I am adding in the entire amount because the apples definitely cook down, and the apples were my favorite part. I ate half of the cake by myself haha. This recipe is definitely going into my book of saved recipes!

    • — Vicki on November 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • I’ve made it both with and without the rum, and the flavour is much more complex with the rum, but doesn’t taste like alcohol at all. This perfect cake whips up so quickly and tastes amazing. It’s my go-to these days and there are never any leftovers.

      • — Alanna on November 15, 2020
      • Reply
  • We’ve been living on a boat and this is easy to put together for toaster oven. It has been spectacular every time! Changed it up tonight because I didn’t have rum or apples so I did Grand Marnier and grapes with a little tangerine zest. Spectacular again!

    • — Isabel Mack on November 9, 2020
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  • DELICIOUS

    • — gURDUN RAmI on November 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • Do you think this might work with pears? I have a large bag of Asian pears I picked up on a whim at a local orchard, and now I don’t know what to do with them!

    • — Debbie on November 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Debbie, I haven’t tried with pears but do think it will work. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on November 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • Excellent recipe, the cake was light and fluffy and the rum was a welcome addition. Just had to adjust the ingredients to UK measures. Thanks 😊

    • — Amanda Crane on November 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it! Just a heads up that the majority of my recipes (including this one) have conversions to weight/metric measures. 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.

      • — Jenn on November 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • Got some local apples and will definitely be making this tomorrow! Do you think it would be better with brown butter? I recently made a brown butter cream cheese frosting for a carrot cake and it was divine. Thinking that caramel flavor may really be delicious in the cake.

    • — Jamie on November 7, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jamie, As long as it’s solidified, it should work (but I don’t really think it’s necessary). 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • Very tasty. I always have to put my twist on such recipes so I warmed my apples in a little butter and sugar in a skillet. Just enough to soften up and coat them well. Everything else I kept the same. I’ll make again

    • — Greg on November 7, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hope the picture went through because this recipe turned out absolutely gorgeous! I have shared it to everyone on my Facebook page.. thank you!

    • — Karen O'Mara on November 7, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is the most delicious apple cake recipe I have ever made. Thank you and God bless you for your kind generosity in sharing this recipe with us.

    • — Virginia on November 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • Found myself with extra apples and wanted a new recipe to use them up. I always have a hard time picking a new recipe that I think is going to be worth it… and this definitely was!! Absolutely a keeper. This cake is delicious! I bake a lot, so did make a few changes… Added a little shortening & a small amount of sour cream (+ extra flour to compensate). I swapped the rum for Woodford Reserve bourbon and made a bourbon caramel sauce for the top. Used demerara sugar on top and it looked **perfect**. Absolutely delicious and beautiful. Apples were soft, cake was moist and the perfect texture. It was definitely hard to wait for it to cool before cutting!!

    • — Ashley on November 4, 2020
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  • simple and beautiful

    • — julie on November 4, 2020
    • Reply
  • I followed the recipe, except only had white rum, and it was delicious. I used honey crisp apples and they turned out softened, but still with good texture.

    • — Lisa on November 3, 2020
    • Reply
  • This cake is quick, easy and delicious! Simple ingredients most of us would have on on hand (I did). Since there is just my husband and myself, it’s the perfect size, too. Thanks, Jenn. Your recipes never disappoint.

    • — Mary Joyce on November 3, 2020
    • Reply
  • Great, easy to make and exactly as described – buttery, sweet cake with chunks of apple. Loved it and will make again.
    Thank you!

    • — Diana Bone on November 3, 2020
    • Reply

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