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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

how to make french apple cake

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

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

  • Quick, easy and delicious. Lots of apples!

    • — Hmmm on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Yes, great recipe. I mixed my apples with sugar and cinnamon like my apple pie. Shared with my daughter, she made like me. She brought to party, everyone enjoyed n complimented. Thank you.

    • — Cathy on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • If I plan to make this cake (using my springform) freeze it and defrost it, how do you suggest I reheat it since I’d like to serve it warm (with some ice cream)? Thank you!

    • — anna on November 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Anna, I’d let it come to room temperature, then warm it in a 300°F oven til warm.

      • — Jenn on November 21, 2022
      • Reply
      • I made this once, and it turned out, absolutely wonderful. I just made it a second time, and put it in the oven, but it’s not that pale batter it’s more of a yellow batter, and I’m like freaking, because I’m not sure what went wrong. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. 😬

        • — Karen on November 26, 2022
        • Reply
  • YES, I made this cake it was easy to do and easy to follow the recipe. YES, it was good really good I ate the first half by myself I was just going to taste it
    once I was through cooking it and putting on the powdered sugar and i could not stop myself it’s that’s good. Thank you, thank you, I will be trying more of your recipes for thanksgiving.

    Linda
    Lansing, Michigan

    • — LINDA PREWITT on November 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have some cooked apples (a chunky compote) in the freezer. Could I use that instead of fresh apples in this recipe?

    • — Lizzy on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • I don’t recommend it, Lizzy – sorry!

      • — Jenn on November 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is a delicious and easy to make a cake! I actually won a baking contest at my church with this recipe 😆

    • — Anna on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • This cake was amazing. Buttery and light. I too used Captain Morgan’s spiced rum. Rum flavor came through but not overwhelming. Will definitely make this again.

    • — J Rosano on November 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • This is the BEST apple cake ever! I use 4 Granny Smith apples and it is so moist and apple-y! Perfect every time!

    • — Jana on November 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    I made 2 different Apple cakes this week and by far, yours was the BEST!!!
    I even splurged on dark rum. Used one honey crisp and 1 gala, yum.
    Thanks so much, Rose

    • — Rose Kidd on November 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • So good! Not too sweet with just the right amount of apple and super easy to make. Topped with whipped cream. Yum!

    • — Emily on November 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi. I’m not a baker and this cake turned out perfect – although I did leave it in the oven for longer but think it was because my cake tin was smaller so it was a little chunkier and took longer to cook. Thank you!

    • — Julia Chim-Burns on November 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • Followed the recipe except the rum, I used a little almond extract instead. Beautiful and delicious, moist cake with tender apples. Thank you! I have a picture but not instagram.

    • — Shirley on November 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • This recipe was so easy and so delicious!
    Everyone loved it!
    Thank you!!!

    • — Kim Beaumont on November 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • I am eating my second piece of this wonderful cake. Why is it so good? I followed the recipe exactly except for the rum – I didn’t have rum but I had rum flavoring. I used 1 tablespoon of that. I resisted my temptation to add cinnamon and nutmeg. And this cake tastes so dang French. I think it si the very simplicity that makes it so good. Let the apples and vanilla shine – no need for spices of any kind. Oh – one thing I did do: after I cut up the apples (I used honeycrisp) I tossed them with a little bit of lemon juice to prevent browning and to add a little more tartness.
    I will definitely be making this again.

    • — Eric Lane Barnes on November 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • This recipe is absolutely amazing. I’m just making it for the third time this week (not all of them for me!) I didn’t have any rum so I used brandy, and it was delicious. The first time I was a bit concerned after I added the apple, because it looked as though there wasn’t enough cake mixture, but I needn’t have worried. It really is a wonderful bake, very French in flavour and consistency, and I can definitely recommend it. I’ve no doubt I’ll be cooking it very often.

    • — Jan Hailwood on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • I am planning on making this for Sunday Family Dinner. In place of the rum how much Almond extract would I use along with the Vanilla? I have a guest that can’t have alcohol.
    Thank You I will come back to rate it but I know it will be a huge hit. Our Mom made a Dutch Apple Cake all the time. I have her recipe but wanted to try yours. I have made quite a few of your recipes all big hits.

    • — Annie on November 9, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Annie, I wouldn’t use any more than 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract as it’s pretty strong in flavor. So you could use 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract. And you should replace the liquid that won’t be added if you’re omitting rum — you can use apple juice, apple cider, or milk. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 9, 2022
      • Reply
      • Thank you It was amazing I also made the Brussel sprout salad also a big hit!

        • — Annie on November 13, 2022
        • Reply
  • This cake was easy to make and absolutely delicious! I shared a couple slices with my neighbor who is a big baker and she raved about it. She was impressed with how light the cake was. The only adjustment I made was that I used Grand Marnier because I didnt have any rum. Simply delicious! I am making two more today for a party tonight. Thank you!

    • — Robin M Walla on November 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • You said the recipe can be doubled. If so, what size pan?
    I assume I can also increase the volume by 1/2. (3 eggs, etc.) If so, what size pan?

    • — Linda on November 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • You can actually use the same size pan to either make 1.5 or 2x the recipe. The cake will just be taller (and take longer to bake). Another option is baking it in a 9 x 13-inch pan. The bake time may be slightly longer so just keep a close eye on it.

      • — Jenn on November 8, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn:
    This is a delicious cake. If I want to increase the recipe by 1 1/2 times so I have more servings should I use a 10 inch pan or use a 9 inch one and get a higher cake?

    • — Susanna on November 6, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! Yes, you could make 1.5 times the recipe and bake it in the same springform. The bake time will just be a bit longer.

      • — Jenn on November 8, 2022
      • Reply
      • Thanks. I think I’ll stay with the 9 inch pan and make a taller cake–more impressive! It’s a very good fall cake and great with whipped cream.

        • — Susanna on November 8, 2022
        • Reply
  • Beautiful. So simple and yet so magical. So light… incredible. This is my first recipe from once upon a chef but definitely not the last. And a big big like for metric/cup slider. Brilliant.

    • — Lucy on November 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • So so so good! Just the right amount of sugar and sourness from the apples! My new favourite dessert, it goes so well with a cup of coffee 🙂

    • — Dolores on November 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • Excellent apple cake!

    • — Jeff on November 5, 2022
    • Reply
    • I followed the recipe, it was simple and delicious. My family loved it and we will be making it again and again!!!!!

      • — Kumarie Vaughn on November 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • This cake was so simple, yet so wonderful. I used Captain Morgan spiced rum for flavoring. It smelled so good and was so delicious. I used a smallish round springform pan. I regret not taking a picture as it was gobbled up quickly😍

    • — Rose on November 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hello

    It was a bumper crop of apples here in the UK so my badminton group brought in their extra apples and I returned to the games the following week with this cake, still warm from the oven! Thank you, so effortless to make and soft and delicious with that little bite of apples!

    • — Preethi M on November 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was a great Cake! Not very sweet and light.
    I really like your recipes.
    They seem simple and with ingredients in my kitchen.

    But AT WHAT TEMP. IS THE FRENCH APPLE CAKE COOKED AT?

    • — Chris Arispe on November 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • I added pecans also

      • — Chris Arispe on November 2, 2022
      • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it! It gets baked at 350°F/175°C.

      • — Jenn on November 2, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made the French apple cake for the first time and followed the recipe without making any changes. The 9” spring form pan worked well and it came out of the pan perfectly. I served it to my Mah Jonng group and there wasn’t a crumb left! Quite a few of them asked for the recipe. Excellent recipe, easy to follow and very easy to make! I will be making it often.

    • — Auntie B on November 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can I please ask how much butter (grams)? I am in England so not sure what 1 stick is?

    • — Eva on November 1, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Eva, You’ll need 113 grams of butter. And 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 November 1, 2022
      • Reply
      • Aww thank you, I am new to your site, so this is great to know! Looking forward making the cake tomorrow!

        • — Eva on November 1, 2022
        • Reply
  • This is a winner dessert. My family loved it and it was easy to make. Thank you
    Lena

    • — Lena on October 31, 2022
    • Reply
  • Excellent Apple Cake Recipe! and so easy to make!
    I have shared your site with friends and family!

    • — Hazel Jordan on October 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • This is a delicious cake! It’s packed with apples and held together with only 1 cup of flour ! Sooo good. I served it with a lightly spiced apple pie whipped cream. So delicious!

    • — Shelly Bartz on October 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • Outstanding recipe! I’ve made it twice and my guests are blow away by how light, buttery and full of apple flavor this cake is! Don’t skip the sugar on top – it adds a tender crunch to the fluffy cake texture.

    My only adjustment: use Calvados (apple brandy) instead of the run for a more layered apple flavor ♥️

    • — Thom on October 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can I double the recipe ?

    • — Corine on October 29, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on October 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • I am a pretty experienced baker and my cake turned out so FLAT. Any idea what I could have done wrong?

    • — deborah on October 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Deborah, The photo may be a bit deceiving but this cake definitely has a low profile so you’re likely not doing anything wrong. That said, did you use a 9-inch round pan? Is your baking powder fresh?

      • — Jenn on October 29, 2022
      • Reply
  • Simple and delicious! The cake had a perfect texture and flavor, and the apple chunks did not all fall to the bottom. It was so good, I made it twice in one week. I normally make slight changes to recipes but there was no need for this one.

    • — Renee S on October 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Absolutely “out-of-this world” recipe! Everyone loved it. It is the perfect blend of apples and light, fluffy cake. I served it warm with vanilla bean ice cream, J.D. Dickinson Burnt Caramel Sauce and their heirloom finishing salt. (J.D. Dickinson Salt-Works is a salt mine in West Virginia near where I grew up.)

    • — Aileen H. on October 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • One of the best and easiest apple dessert recipes. I don’t often have rum on hand so I use whatever I have 🤷‍♀️ and so far it’s been fantastic. I’ve used Carolyn’s, baileys and we’ve also used oat milk for my daughter. All have turned out beautifully 😍 always happy with your recipes
    Thank you

    • — Kristin on October 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Your French Apple Cake sounds delicious. I will be making it the day before my dinner party, for dessert. Is it better to serve it cold or should I warm it up? What would you suggest and how would I do it, please. I don’t want to make it go dry. Thanks

    • — Mal Rocky on October 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Mal, I wouldn’t serve it cold — room temperature or warm both work well. If you want to serve the cake warm, I’d put it on a baking sheet and place it in a cold oven. Set the oven temp to 250 degrees and let it heat up for 10 to 15 minutes. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn. Thanks so much for replying so quickly. I really appreciate that. The cake will be at room temperature (on the worktop) after being cooked the day before, but I thought for my friends, warm would be so much nicer, with cream or ice cream. Thanks for your advice – I guess you mean me to leave the cake uncovered in the oven?

        • — Mal Rocky on October 26, 2022
        • Reply
        • Yes, I would leave the cake uncovered in the oven. 🙂

          • — Jenn on October 26, 2022
          • Reply
  • I made this twice and it’s absolutely delicious. I had a bunch of different kinds of apples from Apple Hill Farm and they were becoming over ripe on my counter so I took 2.5 apples to make this cake. This cake is soooo moist! Smells soo good while baking! Full of sweet and tart apples with the crisp baked top crust. So simple and easy to eat!

    • — Leslie on October 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can I use rum flavored extract instead of rum& would it make a difference in the outcome of the cake? How much would I use?

    • — Deb Peterson on October 24, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Deb, If you want to use rum extract, I’d substitute 1 teaspoon of extract plus 2-1/2 tablespoons of apple juice or apple cider. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2022
      • Reply
  • So delicious!! My whole family loved it, especially right out of the oven!

    • — Jennifer Dubler on October 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Second time I made this cake and the texture is better on this one….great cake and so light and tasty. We love the French apple cake because it is so flavorful and a simple recipe. Thank you.

    • — Kathie Tune on October 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Wow!
    Really easy to make and it turned out perfect! I made it twice, the second time using Ameretto instead of rum, out of this world!!
    Thank you so much for this recipe, it’s gonna be my signature dish at family gatherings ❤️

    • — Joanne Leslie on October 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • So easy to make and simply delicious!

    • — Jill on October 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • So far so good – easy to make….used Cointreau as no Rum in the house. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing. Taking it to work to share….

    • — Sharon Hanna on October 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • My husband loved it but wants me to increase the rum. How much additional could I add without affecting the texture?

    • — Theresa on October 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Theresa, you could increase the rum by a tablespoon or two. 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • Love this recipe. Easy to make and so yummy. Bursting with fruit. Have made the same recipe with pears and it’s good too.

    • — Tabitha Dharan on October 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • Loved this recipe! Not too sweet. Thank you as always for your recipes, I always am pleased with how recipes turn out.
    Eileen, County Down, Northern Ireland

    • — Eileen on October 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Absolutely fantastic. Made with northern spy apples, gluten free 1 to 1 flour, and vegan becel (dairy allergies). Also made a simple icing sugar and almond milk drizzle for on top. Highly recommend trying this recipe, it’s so lovely!

    • — Andrea on October 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • I am clearly in the minority, but I don’t care for this cake. Maybe I just don’t appreciate the subtlety of the flavors, but it is boring. I’m a Once Upon a Chef fan, but I won’t be making this again.

    • — Kay on October 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Maybe less sugar. Other than that Perfect!!!!!!!!!!

    • — Marios on October 16, 2022
    • Reply

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