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, was a pharmacist by day – her pharmacy was on the street-level beneath the apartment we lived in – and bon vivant by night. She 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 or crepes, 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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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

  • I made this cake, I cooked it in a deep ,small glass pan and it was delicious! It was dense, the most perfect cake texture, the added sugar on top created a nice crispy top, sooo good.i will be making this again and again! The only thing I did differently was I sliced the apple into many many thin slices and then chopped those up, but the apples were still kind of crispy, which I liked. Great recipe! And I drank the rest of the bottle of rum, yo ho ho while cooking and got so drunk I made another cake and ate all that raw batter raw and stuck the apple skins all over my face…only kidding!

    • — Colette on July 18, 2022
    • Reply
    • Haha – Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

      • — Jenn on July 18, 2022
      • Reply
    • Easiest cake ever and delicious! I made it twice today because it was that delicious! The first one was gone right away! I used a spring form pan lined with parchment paper. Thank you, Jenn.😊

      • — Kimmy on August 18, 2022
      • Reply
  • I make your French Apple Cake all the time when I want a cake, however, today, I didn’t have any apples, but I had blueberry’s. The cake turned out beautiful and tasted delicious. It all comes down to the cake, it pairs well, I’ll bet, with any fruit. Thank you.

    • — Virginia Murrell on July 17, 2022
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    • Virginia, did you toss the berries with a little flour before putting them on top of cake? I want to use blueberries but I’m afraid they will sink. Thanks

      • — Maggie on September 21, 2022
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  • it’s greaaatt!! it tasted so good and i added cinnamon and pecan and it gave it a nice touch, i’ll definitely bake this again!!

    • — Nanonymous on July 17, 2022
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  • Absolutely gorgeous & delicious cake! What a beautiful recipe! Everyone who tried it was completely in love with it. I used milk instead of rum. So wonderful and an absolute must try. Warmest regards from Melbourne, Australia 🇭🇲💗

    • — Cleo on July 12, 2022
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  • This recipe is absolutely delicious! I love that it’s so simple but tastes amazing. Will definitely be making this again soon. Also a great way to use up any apples you have sitting around!

    • — Max on July 12, 2022
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  • Made this cake for 4th of July. Perfect cake with easy ingredients! I will be making this again and again.

    • — Lisa S on July 5, 2022
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  • This is literally the best non-chocolate cake batter that I have worked with. I do not add alcohol as we do not drink, and it is very forgiving with different fruit (I used mango this time around). I have a confession, I do add cinnamon to give it a bit more flavor. Thank you.

    • — Katy on July 3, 2022
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  • Recently started baking. My husband says this is the best dessert I’ve ever made. So simple and easy.

    • — Melissa on July 3, 2022
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  • my daughter has asked for apple cake as her birthday cake – I love the sound of this cake, and the ratings have convinced me to go for this one ( though I will ommit the rum in favour of milk as daughter is 3)! I wondered if I could sandwich 2 of these cakes together, and if so what frosting would you suggest, buttercream, cream cheese etc? thank you x

    • — Charlotte on June 27, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Charlotte, This cake is pretty heavy, so I don’t think it’s the best option for a layer cake — sorry!

      • — Jenn on June 27, 2022
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      • This “cake aux pommes” is amazing. Thank you from Belgium ❤️

        • — Marie on July 4, 2022
        • Reply
  • Lovely cake. The second time I made it I used 50/50 apples and pears. It was delicious.

    • — G on June 25, 2022
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  • The recipe is terrific despite it’s simplicity 💞 My family and I loved it so much. And rum gives it a special charm. Thank you very much!

    • — User on June 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • Excellent recipe but could use more spices such as cinnamon, or apple spices to make it more tasty.

    • — Helen Belanger on June 22, 2022
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  • Living in the south of France and made it for a friend’s “crémaillère”, all my French friends there absolutely loved it—used Calvados (an apple brandy, it really adds to the apple taste) and if people are using pears I would use a pear based brandy (eau de vie de poire).
    Soooo delicious !

    • — Shawn du Provence on June 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Is it possible to make without an electric mixer?

    • — Luna on June 16, 2022
    • Reply
    • Using a mixer is ideal, but with a little elbow grease, you can mix it yourself. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 18, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi! Is alcohol necessary for this recipe? I don’t drink and was wondering if you had a substitute that would give a similar flavor. Thanks!

    • — Haniya on June 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Haniya, you can use apple juice, apple cider, or milk in place of the rum. It will still be delicious. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • I had made this Tart several times and my friends and family love it! It’s delicious, perfectly Tart and sweet at the same time, and lasts a couple of days without refrigeration ( my husband hates cold tarts). Today I m taking it to a dinner and I know it will be a success. Thank you Jenn for sharing these wonderful recipes!!

    • — Maggie on June 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this recipe 4 times now (over the last 30 days 🥴) and it has turned out amazing each time. I use a light rum vs dark (it’s all I had) but it worked perfectly 😋😊

    • — Mum-who-loves-to-bake on June 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • To be honest, I couldn’t believe that a recipe could have that many positive reviews. Then I made it. Delish!! I cut back on the sugar to about 1/2 cup, used milk instead of rum and didn’t put the icing sugar on top. My husband said it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever made.

    • — Jodi on June 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • Add us to your long list of fans. I increased the recipe 50%, used half granulated sugar and half brown sugar, and baked in a Bundt pan. It was fabulous. Husband thought it was good for breakfast, good for snacking, and good for dessert. Had to go buy more apples for the next one!

    • — Teresa Gruber on June 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • Delicious!
    Thank you for sharing!!
    I substituted Cup4Cup for the flour and Calvados for the rum! Which I did not have on hand but will try with the rum soon!
    Thank you,
    Kathleen

    • — Kathleen on June 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen!

    Can I double the recipe and make as a Bundt cake? If so, how long should I bake it for?

    • — Sandra on June 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure. 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 June 2, 2022
      • Reply
  • Second time baking this cake, love this recipe, it’s so simple and the cake is so moist and fluffy. I substituted rum with 3tbs of whiskey, it turned out PERFECT!

    • — Mei Yin on May 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • Recently while searching for a good cookbook, not like I don’t have many already, but I am always on the hunt for new recipes, I purchased one of your cookbooks. In it was the French Apple Cake recipe. I made this recipe with trepidation. The amount of rum sounded wonderful to me but I was concerned my husband might not feel the same way. So I didn’t mention it. He absolutely loved the cake. And so did I for more reasons than the taste. It was easy and quick to make, moist and delicious, and the perfect size for the two of us. It was wonderful. I look forward to trying more of your recipes.

    • — angie on May 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • Since discovering this recipe, I’ve made it often enough that I have it memorized. It is perfection! I’ve baked it in a greased metal cake pan and glass baking dishes- pie or square, without the parchment. It serves up beautifully. My only change is that I use brandy instead of rum due to personal preference. It is devoured every time. Not a crumb is EVER leftover. I once substituted fresh pineapple for the apples with very good results, and look forward to trying this recipe with fresh peaches. Thank you so much, Jenn!

    • — Kimberly on May 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • So easy to make and so delicious! All the ingredients are things that were already in my pantry. Already excited to make this again.

    • — Bianca on May 9, 2022
    • Reply
  • First time baking this FRENCH APPLE CAKE recipe, and it turned out perfectly! It tasted delicious cool or warm with vanilla ice cream!!!

    • — DessertDiva on May 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hello! I’ve been making this gluten dairy free and it’s been amazing. Even my non gluten dairy free friends love it! Now I’m going to a party with vegans and wondering if you have any recommendations for an egg substitute? Thank you!

    • — Ken on May 4, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad you like this! 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 many recipes would also work with some kind of store-bought egg substitute. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on May 5, 2022
      • Reply
  • This cake baked up to ABSOLUTE PERFECTION! Unbelievably delicious. This will be my go-to apple cake from now on. Thank you!

    • — Amy on April 10, 2022
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  • This was excellent. Will be making this again!!

    • — Corinne on April 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was so so good. I used amber rum in mine. This is now my favorite dessert.

    • — Doreen Mailhot. on April 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hello, I’m just about to make this cake, but I’m confused about the measurement of flour. I’m in the UK and one website says a US cup is 125 grams and my UK cookbook says it’s 8oz, which is 227 grams. I’d like to make two so need to get the ratio right. Can you advise please? Thank you!

    • — Angela Couchman on April 6, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Angela, One cup of flour weighs between 125 – 130 grams. I actually provide metric measurements for most of my recipes. If you look in the top right hand corner of the recipe card, you’ll see a little button that allows you to toggle between metric and cup measures. You may also find this metric conversion page on my website helpful when cooking US recipes from other sources. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can you substitute amaretto for the rum?

    • — Corinne on April 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on April 2, 2022
      • Reply
    • Love this cake. Will it work with blueberries? That’s what is abundance right now

      • — KT on July 11, 2022
      • Reply
      • Glad you like it! I wouldn’t suggest blueberries here as they can be tart when baked, which means you’d need to add sugar to the recipe, which would throw things off a bit. I have a blueberry cake you may want to check out.

        • — Jenn on July 11, 2022
        • Reply
  • I made this with apples and it was absolutely stunning ❤️❤️❤️❤️I was wondering if this would work with pears ?

    • — Jenny Smoyer on March 30, 2022
    • Reply
    • Yep 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • Do yourself a favor and double the recipe and make two because you will want another one. Amazing recipe! Thank you!

    • — Laura Drumm on March 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • Gorgeous recipe. I used amaretto rather than rum (as that is what I had in) and it was delicious and not too sweet.

    • — Jules Williamson on March 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Loved all the apples in this cake! I used 2 tbs whiskey and 1 tbs milk instead of the rum. I also added 1 tsp of orange zest and 1 tsp almond extract. Everyone loved it!! Also, wondering if I can substitute vegetable oil instead of butter? I’m allergic to dairy and try to avoid it the best I can.

    • — Tiffany on March 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Tiffany, so glad you liked this! Vegetable oil wouldn’t work here as you need something solid to cream with the sugar. You can use a non-dairy stick butter or solidified coconut oil. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on March 25, 2022
      • Reply
    • Really easy. Really good. Everyone loved it. Had no rum. Used American whiskey. Will definitely make again.

      • — Barbara on March 30, 2022
      • Reply
  • I love this cake. It is light and sweet and delicious. I’m making it again today.

    • — Rose on March 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • Never fail recipe! Love making this regularly. It’s quick, easy with minimal ingredients & not too sweet. It’s forgiving when substituting fruit & liquor although I like to leave the rum out altogether, even forgetting the vanilla &/or sugar on top sometimes doesn’t alter its yumminess. Thank you!

      • — Venice on May 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • Firm family favourite. They always ask for it Thank you

    • — Judith on March 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this recipe so many times already, it’s been our favorite dessert! And recipe is easy to follow and easy to make even for beginners or home bakers.

    • — Marie on March 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • delicious cake a real hit!

    • — jane on March 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • Jenn, reviewed this fabulous cake about six years ago when first posted, my favorite cake. Have been making it with dark rum. Would Calvados enhance the flavor…your preference?

    • — Carol Winkelman on March 13, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, I love this cake with rum but think it’d be equally good with Calvados. If you try it, I’d love to know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on March 13, 2022
      • Reply
  • This came out great and will be my go-to recipe for apple cake. Liked the rum addition.

    • — Linda Green on March 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • I was wondering wether i could do it without the rum or if theres a replacmant as i cant have alcohol

    • — Ali May on March 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Ali, You can replace the rum with apple juice, apple, cider, or milk. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can’t wait to try this recipe(uk) but a little puzzled that you have used granulated sugar to cream with the butter; is that correct as we would normally use caster sugar for creaming?

    • — Barbara Dentith on March 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Barbara, I just looked online to see what granulated sugar is referred to as in the UK. It sounds like while they’re not exactly the same (the granules are slightly smaller in caster sugar), you would want to go with caster sugar. Hope that helps! If anyone from the UK has a different opinion, feel free to weigh in!

      • — Jenn on March 12, 2022
      • Reply
      • I made this in Ireland with caster sugar (I don’t buy granulated). Absolutely 0 issues, the butter creamed well with the caster sugar and then caster sugar on top gave it a beautiful golden crust. Solid recipe! Thanks Jenn.

        • — chocabaker on September 3, 2022
        • Reply
  • Made this last night, delicious!

    • — Kathleen Nachtman on March 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • Omg!!! So delicious! Didn’t have rum so I used rye whiskey and it was so good. I didn’t flip over to serve. I liked how it looked out of the oven.

    • — Olga on March 9, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can I use Bacardi gold instead of dark rum?

    • — Amanda Rankin on March 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, Amanda, that’s perfectly fine. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 8, 2022
      • Reply
  • I was looking for a recipe last Friday and came across this. Now I’m a big fan and am already looking for some more delicious recipes. Thank you, Chef Jenn Segal. The only thing I did differently was use 100% natural date honey instead of sugar. It was truly delicious and couldn’t have been easier.

    • — Yonatan Shaked on March 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • I love this recipe. You can make it quickly and it’s delicious. I reduce the amount of rum when I make it for breakfast to 1-1-1/2 tablespoons.

    • — LSnook on March 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • I love this! Hubby loved it too. Follow recipe precisely. Very fluffy, moist and tender. Perfect amount of sugar.

    • — Diana on March 2, 2022
    • Reply

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