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

  • What does one cup of flour weigh? Also how much is one stick of butter?

    • — Margaret on July 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Margaret, 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 you enjoy the cake if you make it!

      • — Jenn on July 12, 2021
      • Reply
  • Its heavenly! So delicious and fluffy. I loved it and it’s my go to recipe now. We added cinnamon to it, and it tasted really nice

    • — Jania on July 9, 2021
    • Reply
    • P.s. i didn’t have rum and did it without, tasted amazing

      • — Jania on July 9, 2021
      • Reply
  • I really appreciate the simplicity of this recipe and it comes out perfect every time!

    Question: Have you ever tried this recipe with strawberries instead of apples ?

    • — Simeon Lee on June 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like it! I actually have a very similar cake that has strawberries that you can check out here. Hope you enjoy if you make it. 🙂

      • — Jenn on June 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • Great cake! I doubled the recipe and used two 9” round pans so I’d have one for the freezer. I didn’t have any rum on hand but have some tiny cans of pineapple juice picked up for something else so I substituted the rum with pineapple juice and it turned out great. Thankfully I had some heavy cream in the fridge so I topped with freshly whipped cream. This would be a nice cake to serve to guests or a delicious addition to a brunch table.

    • — Laurie on June 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Laurie – How did the cake taste when you defrosted it?

      • — Alena on July 20, 2021
      • Reply
  • Really yummy and super easy cake to make, thank you!

    • — Kylie Grant on June 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolutely love the cake!
    I had a few servings and so did my kids!

    I had added in cinnamon 1 tsp as my kids love apple cinnamon cake

    Thks for sharing

    • — Nutan Rai on June 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is my favourite go to cake, I make it all the time , my family loves it. I also make it with blueberries…so simple and easy but yet so delicious! A real winner!

    • — Janet Bredin on June 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • Amazing cake! I made a few tweaks using gluten free flour and adding spices for a spiced apple cake and turned out perfectly. Will be one to add to the recipe book 🙂

    • — Jemma L on June 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this cake today, and as i didn’t have dark rum I used Malibu coconut rum (2 tablespoons) . It’s delicious, though very moist. I may try cooking it a little longer or a lttiel less rum.

    • — Janine Webb on June 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another winner from Jen! This is easy to make and very moist. I didn’t have rum so omitted it, but I imagine the rum ups the flavor a bit. Regardless it was delicious without it too!

    • — Cindy on June 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • This cake is wonderful! The slightly melted granulated sugar on the top is a masterstroke. I only had two tablespoons of rum left in the bottom of the bottle but it still worked. I used Kanzi apples. They’re not thought of as cookers, but they held their shape perfecftly. It’s early winter in Australia and still lots of Autumn apples about so I’ll be making it lots more times.
    Thank you!

    • — Jude Seaboyer on June 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Amazing! I made this to use up some old wrinkly apples and it turned out so well! Next time I’ll make sure to use apples that are a bit more tart, as I used Gala and the cake turned out a bit too sweet for my tastes. The textures in this cake are superb, with the soft apple chunks, moist cake, and the crisp sugar top.
    I was also out of dark rum so I subbed in bourbon and it worked perfectly. This recipe is definitely being saved to make many more times! Can’t say no to turning old apples into a show-stopping dessert 🙂
    I couldn’t find it in the instructions: I’m assuming this cake can be stored on the counter or in the fridge?

    • — Ashley on June 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed it! I’d store it on the counter, covered with foil.

      • — Jenn on June 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • I make this at every special event and every time summer comes around in full swing. It’s such a rich and flavourful cake and it’s a hit with everyone, all the time. It’s a must-have and fan-favourite. Everyone should try this cake at least once in their life!

    • — Quynh Vu on May 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • Amazing. I used 1/4c butter and 1/4c avocado oil, and reduced the sugar to 1/2c. Also subbed apple juice for rum since I have little kids. It is so moist and flavorful, I’m making it again for guests tomorrow!

    • — Mei on May 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • I used Honey Crisp apples, they are very soft and delicious, and I’m glad I did – sliced them thin, and they still came out a bit crisp in the cake. The batter seemed to be a little on the thick side, so I was surprised when checking a few minutes after cooking that it had melted and air bubbles were coming up, and surprisingly the cake stays flat, it doesn’t rise much at all. I used brown sugar on the top of the cake before putting into the oven, for a different look and flavor, came out well. Also cooked longer than 40 minutes. The cake is excellent and the rum gives a unique flavor (I used 3 tablespoons of Bacardi). All in all – easy and quick to put together, a great cake to serve for dinner or guests!

    • — Ronnie on May 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hello! Thank you for this recipe! I made it today for my husband’s birthday dinner dessert tonight – he and everyone else had seconds. I didn’t have rum when making it, so I just doubled the vanilla (so 2 teaspoons), and everyone LOVED it.

    Thank you again!!!

    • — Lisa G on May 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi! Thank you for this recipe. I made it today for my husband’s birthday dinner dessert. Everyone had seconds! I wanted to let anyone reading this know that if you don’t have brandy, just using 2 teaspoons of the vanilla works great, as that’s what I did today. I made it exact to the recipe except that one substitution.

    Thank you again!!

    • — Lisa G on May 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • OUTSTANDING. My new easy go to that wows every time. I make with a GF all purpose flour blend and it stays fluffy and moist for a few days. Although there is rarely leftovers! Double the recipe!

    • — Butsky on May 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This cake is so delicious! Thank you so much for this, and all your other amazing recipes! I was wondering if you think the addition of cornmeal – for a little extra texture – would work with this recipe?

    thank you!
    best
    Miriam

    • — Miriam on May 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Miriam, Honestly I’m not sure cornmeal would work well here…but if you wanted to try it, I would replace 2 to 3 tablespoons of the flour with cornmeal. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it. 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 27, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this at the weekend for my family and it was so delicious. It brought back fond memories of a holiday we had in France where we tasted Breton cake, this is very similar. Saved for my go to cake in the future when I need a comforting treat.

    • — Ann on May 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • Simple & Absolutely Delicious

    • — Amitis on May 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Thank you for this easy and delicious recipe! Ive made it a dozen times and a clear winner.

    • — Annie on May 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolutely Loved this recipe. Worked magically, even with whole wheat flour, brandy for rum, and only 1/3 cups of sugar!!! It only took 25 mins in the oven for me. It didn’t brown as much at the top, but it was done and incredibly moist. The first truly moist and fluffy cake I have ever baked using whole wheat flour. I stumbled across this recipe randomly on the big World Wide Web and I gotta say, Bravo Chef.

    • — Mara Loxham on May 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I made this for my son’s birthday. Because we are a family that do not care for sweet frostings, this was perfect! It was so moist with just enough apples and the rum flavoring was delicious. I would like to make this again for a luncheon but I don’t have enough time in the morning. Can I make this the day before? How should I cover it?

    Thanks, love all your recipes.

    Carolyn R

    • — Carolyn R on May 13, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked it! Yes, you can make it a day ahead and store it on the counter covered with foil.

      • — Jenn on May 13, 2021
      • Reply
  • How much in grams or ounces is 1 stick of butter?

    • — Donna Deacon-Wood on May 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Donna, it’s the equivalent of 113 grams. Also, 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 May 11, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this cake last night and it is delicious!
    I used dark brown sugar instead of white sugar because I don’t like white sugar and I used 3 *teaspoons* of brandy instead of 3 tbsps of rum because that’s what I had!

    I could taste the brandy but only very slightly which was perfect for me- I think 3 tbsps of alcohol would be too strong for my personal taste!

    It turned out really nice. But it’s so flat. I wondered if I could try using self raising flour next time for a little more height?

    • — Erykah Leigh on May 9, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Erykah, Glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t made this with self-rising flour so I can’t say from experience, but another reader commented that she used it and had good results. Please report back it you try it!

      • — Jenn on May 10, 2021
      • Reply
  • It’s easy and awesome. The whole family loves it with afternoon tea. The rum flavour is a real winner.

    • — Peter B Cox on May 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • The cake tasted great even though I replaced the rum with apple juice. I will try it with the rum next time.

    • — Retsuko on May 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • I, together with thousands of others, have made this multiple times. But now I’ve substituted 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil for the butter, added bits of crystallized ginger and zest of an orange and a lemon and baked them in my 6-mold mini bundt pan, and they are amazing! I used only one Honey Crisp apple which I cut in very small 5 mm chunks and left them for 30 minutes in 350 oven.
    I’m not really reviewing here, Jenn, just letting you know that the oil substitute works and that I only tried it because it’s better for those of us with cholesterol problems. As a side note, I also use Ligurian olive oil which is expensive, yes, but lighter and with a different fragrance than most any of the ones from Italy, Greece or Spain.

    • — Joy on May 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe was so easy and the cake was fantastic. It looked so elegant for such a simple recipe. I used Honey Crisp apples and that was perfect.

    • — Jennifer Canfield on May 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hello- love love love your website & recipes!!!!!! A question on the French Apple cake- is dark rum the equivalent of Capt Morgan Spiced rum???? Never drank the stuff, know nothing about it.

    • — Judy on May 4, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Judy, So glad you like the recipes! Dark rum and spiced rum are slightly different, but either will work fine here. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 4, 2021
      • Reply
      • Love love love!!!! Thank you!!!!

        • — Judy on May 5, 2021
        • Reply
      • Hi Jen,
        Didn’t have any rum so substituted Cointrea and added 1 teaspoon cinnamon to dry mixture. Turned out fabulous. I use lots of your recipes as they are foolproof.

        Thanks for sharing them.
        Millie

        • — Millie Barton on May 7, 2021
        • Reply
  • This cake is soo good. I couldn’t stop eating it 🙂 I Just wish it would rise more so I can get more cake out of it. Is their anyway I can do that. But otherwise very yummy. I will be making this again. Thanks for the recipe

    • — Lana on May 4, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Lana, Glad you like this! This is just a short cake by nature. If you want something more substantial, 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 May 4, 2021
      • Reply
  • I’ve made this French Apple pie
    Many times
    If I don’t have fresh apples I’ve used tinned….
    I also do not add rum…..it’s a very delicious cake

    • — vicki on May 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was the first recipe I tried on onceuponachef.com and it is absolutely amazing. I have made this countless times since and it always garners high praise.

    It’s a personal favorite not only for the taste, texture and presentation but also because it is easy and quick to prepare.

    Thanks to Jenn for making all these amazing recipes available. I have made many of the recipes on this site and they all have been outstanding. No need to analyze or modify anything, simply follow her concise instructions and the results are always spectacular.

    • — Jeremy on April 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! Lovely served warm with fresh slightly sweetened whipped cream (:

    • — Ruth on April 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • This French Apple Cake was amazing! I made it for Thanksgiving, and I’m making it again for an upcoming glamping trip. 🙂 I like to have a touch of gourmet when we’re out in the woods. My granddaughter is very sensitive to too much gluten, so I bake with einkorn wheat for her. The cake is also not too sweet. It came out just perfect! It freezes well too.

    • — Jane on April 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • Easy and elegant cake. This is a keeper. Thank you!

    • — jill on April 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Thanks for the wonderful, easy recipe! I had all the ingredients on hand, so I was able to make this at the last minute to share with my book club friends, who thought it was very good. I do wish I had brought some whipped cream, too. I used Gala apples because I had them in my kitchen.

    I did wonder how it might taste with a dash of cinnamon, or with a drizzle of cinnamon, sugar and butter on top!

    • — Susan on April 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Just made this cake – actually I made two of them because I had some apples that I needed to use. Turned out perfect and delicious! I cut back on the baking powder by 1/8 tsp (1/4 for the double recipe) because I am at altitude (Denver!). That was the only change I made. Cooked for 38 minutes. Nice and crisp on the top and so moist inside.

    • — CatieFranc on April 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • I tried this recipe, the top turned out crisp and golden brown. However, inside it is a little soggy; and not sure why.. 🤔

    • — Nadine on April 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Nadine, Did you use a 9-inch springform or cake pan? If so, it sounds like it just needed a few more minutes in the oven. If you try the cake again and notice the top browning before the inside is fully baked, gently lay a piece of foil on top of the pan to keep it from browning more than you’d like. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 16, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn, I used a 9 inch springform pan. Thanks for your advice, will try it the next time. 🙂

        • — Nadine on April 16, 2021
        • Reply
  • Without a doubt, this is a winner
    Many thanks Sal

    • — Sal Mesiano on April 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • I just made this apple cake for the first time, and it is delicious – moist and flavorful with a tender crumb and a crisp exterior. The only change I made was using brandy instead of rum. I will definitely make this again, and next time I’ll use rum and maybe reduce the sugar a bit. I wouldn’t say it’s overly sweet as is, but less sugar would make me feel less guilty about eating so much of it myself 😉

    • — Debbie on April 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. The taste was fabulous however my apple cake turned out a bit greasy & didn’t have that beautiful browned effect like yours. I used an 8×8 square pan as I didn’t have a 9″ round & baked it for 45 mins to try & get that nice color, but it turned out somewhat pale & greasy. It was cooked & the taste was lovely, but where did I go wrong?

    • — Donna on March 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Donna, Did you use something other than butter in the batter?

      • — Jenn on March 30, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn, I used 1/2 c butter & creamed per your instructions so maybe my oven isn’t hot enough at 350F? I bought a 9″ round pan & will try this recipe again because I want it to look like yours. Baking is such a mystery at times.

        • — Donn on March 30, 2021
        • Reply
        • I hope you have better luck the second time around! And If you’re concerned that your oven temperature isn’t accurate, here are some tips for checking it.

          • — Jenn on March 30, 2021
          • Reply
    • I made this recipe and it is so good. Actually all of Jenn’s baked recipes have turned out perfect when I made them. The combination of rum and apples is absolutely scrumptious.

      • — Neehad on April 16, 2021
      • Reply
  • I baked this recipe today and it tasted amazing. I used cognac instead of dark rum & some cinnamon (as my little one suggested it to add) & it was a perfect blend of flavours. I wasn’t sure about the type of oven setting to be used & as I have a fan assisted oven i used a lower temp setting at 165´ just to not over bake & it seemed to work. I will be making this recipe again & will definitely share it with others. Thank you.

    • — Sandy on March 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is so good!!!

    • — Emily on March 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • Is the 9″ cake pan used in the french apple cake recipe 2″ or 3″?

    • — Ann on March 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • I think mine is a 3-inch, but either will work here is this cake isn’t very tall. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is my second time making the apple cake and it is delicious. Best recipe I have ever used❤️❤️❤️

    • — JoAnn Schilling on March 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious! I made this cake to take to a friend’s last night and it was a hit. In my oven which is new it took a little longer to bake -other than that I followed the recipe exactly. I used Meyers dark rum which is my favorite. I will be making this again!

    • — Judy Eklund on March 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • I really love this recipe and was wondering if I could make it with plums in place of the apple?

    • — Julie on March 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Julie, Glad you like this! I actually have a plum cake that’s similar so you may want to try that. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on March 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi! Thank you , what a lovely cake ! If one is without apples do you think well drained tinned peach slices might just work?

    • — diana mcdougall on March 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Diana, Glad you liked it! I think fresh peaches would work, but canned peaches would be too soft – sorry!

      • — Jenn on March 23, 2021
      • Reply
      • Does this give off an apple taste? Would using apple cider give it more of an apple flavor? Thank you so much for sharing a recipe with such an amazing back story to it 🙂

        • — Justice Ryanne Long on August 24, 2021
        • Reply
        • Yes, it definitely has an apple taste. I’m not sure how much additional apple flavor the cider would provide, but feel free to place the rum with cider if you’d like. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on August 25, 2021
          • Reply

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