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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


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling over cake
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch cubes (I like Honeycrisp, Fuji or Granny Smith) (3½ - 4 cups chopped)
  • Confectioners' sugar (optional), for decorating cake


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Grease a 9-inch springform or regular cake pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. If using a regular cake pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and grease again.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and rum. Don't worry if the batter looks grainy at this point; that's okay. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chopped apples.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even the top. Sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool on a rack in the pan. Once cool, run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake. If using a springform pan, remove the sides. If using a regular cake pan, carefully invert the cake onto the rack, remove the parchment paper, then gently flip the cake over and place right-side-up on a platter. Using a fine sieve, dust with confectioners' sugar (if using). Cake can be served warm or room temperature, plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
  5. Freezer Friendly Instructions: The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 279
  • Fat: 13g
  • Saturated fat: 8g
  • Carbohydrates: 35g
  • Sugar: 22g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Sodium: 66mg
  • Cholesterol: 77mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • I usually am not a big cake fan, but love this apple cake! Love your recipes!

    • — Pam on February 15, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious and very easy! Since I discovered you, I have bought your cookbooks and eagerly await your next recipes. My husband is so accustomed to me using your recipes he comes home and asks, “What did Chef Jenn make tonight?” Thank you!!!

    • — Mary on February 14, 2023
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    • 😊

      • — Jenn on February 15, 2023
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  • This is one of my favorite cakes!
    Jenn have you ever made this without the apple, just as a plain cake?

    • — Simeon Lee on February 14, 2023
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    • Hi Simeon, I haven’t tried it but worry the cake might be dry without the added moisture from the apples.

      • — Jenn on February 15, 2023
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  • My husband and I made this together, to use up some apples we had. I had no rum so I used a smidge of orange extract instead.
    It baked beautifully. Will definitely be making this again.

    • — ReBecca on February 11, 2023
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  • So delicious! I’ve made this cake 4 or 5 times now and we absolutely love it!! I usually use 3 apples and spiced rum. Sometimes I sprinkle with confectionery sugar, but most times I don’t – it’s excellent either way.

    • — Tricia on February 10, 2023
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  • Is light rum OK to use if you don’t have dark rum?

    • — Kathy Roy on February 9, 2023
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    • Yes definitely!

      • — Jenn on February 10, 2023
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  • Very good

    • — Chef on February 4, 2023
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  • Made this today in a 9×9 square pan according to recipe, so delicious and light, Amazing!!!

    • — Lydia on February 3, 2023
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  • Wonderful recipe! I even used half the sugar and it was still sweet enough. This cake will definitely be baked again and again. Greetings from Freiburg, Germany close to the French border 🤗

    • — Elena on February 1, 2023
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  • This looks a lot like Dorie Greenspan’s “Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake” from 2010.

    • — Lena M on January 29, 2023
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  • I made this apple cake today and it was a huge hit. This cake was delicious! ❤️

    • — Janet on January 29, 2023
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  • Made this cake for a dinner party last night to go with home-made vanilla ice-cream; a resounding success – really straightforward to make although I would suggest still lining and greasing if using a springform tin as the cake batter can sneak through any small gaps!
    Worked really well with Mount Gay rum, but a whiskey or bourbon would probably work equally well.
    Increasing the ingredient proportions by half again gave nice-sized servings for 10 guests, and I just added about 15 mins onto the bake time.
    Finally finished off with sliced of apple arranged in a circle around the top (I had 3/4 of an apple spare!).
    Really pleased, thanks.

    • — Chris on January 29, 2023
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  • its great i really loved it thank you.

    • — jack sloman on January 27, 2023
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  • I have made this several times and love it. In fact I am hooked on all your recipes. However next week I have offered to take dessert to a dinner party where one of the guests has a gluten allergy. Can I substitute Cup4Cup gluten free all purpose flour?

    • — Dena Broeders on January 26, 2023
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    • Hi Dena, I do think it would work here. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on January 30, 2023
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    • Hi Dena, I have made this recipe many times with Cup4Cup gluten free flour (my favorite), Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour and King Arthur gluten free flour. It depended on what I had in the pantry. It’s wonderful! Rumford baking powder is gluten free. Just make sure any ingredients are clearly marked gluten free on the label. I hope that helps. Happy Baking!

      • — Karen S on February 27, 2023
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  • I made this for the first time this evening exactly as written, substituting only milk for rum, and it. is. wonderful! Will be making again and again. Thank you!

    • — Teal on January 25, 2023
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  • Omg, so delicious. I made exactly to recipe except no rum … use double vanilla and equal amount almond extract.

    • — Terry on January 24, 2023
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  • I did make it and we loved it ( my husband had made an apple cake a few months ago) and said this is definitely better than the one I made, and it was an easy recipe… thanks

    • — Maria on January 23, 2023
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  • Absolute perfection!! Subbed whole milk for rum, and did 3/4 tsp vanilla extract + 1/4 tsp almond extract as Jenn suggested in comments. I used 2 regular sized honeycrisp apples, which chopped measured roughly 3 cups. Didn’t bother chopping more apple due to comments RE: crust became soggy. Turned out beautifully!! Made 2 batches for family and extended family and plan to make a 3rd this week for a dinner party. Thanks for an awesome and easy recipe! I whipped up 2 today while home with a 6 month old so anyone can do it lol

    • — Sarah on January 23, 2023
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    • The cake disappeared so fast my husband and adult son almost drooled.
      I replaced the rum with Binyamina Amaretto Liquor which was all i had ,fantastic substitute .
      This is a definite keeper to go in my fave recipe handwritten book which will get passed on one day.
      Thank you for an amazing recipe

      • — Colleen Herman on January 31, 2023
      • Reply
  • Good morning (west coast a.m.) Jenn ?,
    I’ve made your wonderful French Apple Cake several times and it always turns out perfectly delicious. I’ve served it warm….and have frozen it with no problems. But I have a question about making it – and baking it – the afternoon before serving (24 hours countertop). We’re having company Saturday at 3 ish for tea/coffee and I was thinking of baking it Friday afternoon, wrapping once cooled and sifting the powder sugar over the top Saturday before they arrive.

    What do you think? It won’t have that “just baked” feel or taste will it? Any ideas? Am afraid I might not have time Sat. morning ?…..

    • — Joan Tyndall on January 23, 2023
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    • Hi Joan, Glad you like this! And this will still be delicious on the second day — it keeps nicely for several days! 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 23, 2023
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  • Sensational, can’t wait to make it again. Easy to make and everyone loved it! I used spiced rum because that is what I had on hand and it worked perfectly.

    • — Joanne Buffa on January 16, 2023
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  • I made this cake 5 times. It’s our favourite cake in my family. This time used gluten-free flour 4 cup 4 , the result was amazing! Thank you Jenn ! I’ve got your cooking books from my son. I absolutely loved them. Those are my practical and easy to follow cook books. Thank you for sharing wonderful recipes that makes our family happy 😊!

    • — June on January 15, 2023
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  • Fabulous !!! I’ve made it 4 times now and it is gorgeous !!! I make it with spiced rum just because that’s what I had … can’t fault it !!

    • — Julia Garrison on January 14, 2023
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  • Perfect! Love the simplicity, the texture and flavour. A great cake to gift to friends and family for no reason at all. And, the accolades!!!

    • — Donna on January 12, 2023
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  • Thank you so much. We really enjoyed the recipe. thank you for this lovely recipe❤️

    • — Mutaba Mba on January 11, 2023
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  • Love it! My husband and I aren’t cake fans but I wanted to try this since it is so popular. I like it with whip cream that I had left over from Christmas. I will be making it again.

    • — Pam on January 2, 2023
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  • Hi – I’ve made this a few times – very nice cake – a little sweet for my taste so I leave the sugar off at the last step. Also, perfectly fine without the rum

    • — Thomas Walsh on January 1, 2023
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  • Could i use something instead of the rum please…?

    • — Zahra on January 1, 2023
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    • Sure, Zahra, you can use apple juice, apple cider, or milk in place of the rum. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 2, 2023
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  • I’m so happy I found this recipe! Cake was light, fluffy and so delicious.

    • — Diana Oliva on December 31, 2022
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  • I just made this delightful cake. I didn’t have any rum but used apple flavored bourbon. It’s light and has just the right touch of sweetness. This recipe is a keeper!

    • — Diane on December 31, 2022
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  • Easy and utterly delicious! I made this yesterday for a pre-Christmas dinner at friends’. They are major cake bakers, so I was not confident it would stand up to the fancy creations they make, lathered in frosting and such. But it was a major hit and everyone loved it and wanted the recipe!
    I followed the recipe as written except I left the skin on one apple and it was not noticeable (an organic GrannySmith). Will make again for sure— maybe today!!

    • — Sheila in Seattle on December 22, 2022
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    • Can this cake be made a day ahead or is it best served day of? Thanks. Can’t wait to try it!

      • — Gayle on January 9, 2023
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      • Hi Gayle, it keeps nicely for a few days. Enjoy!

        • — Jenn on January 9, 2023
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  • This cake is constant perfection! I tried my own spin and subbed some fresh cranberries for some of the apple (I only use honey crisps) and if possible it was even tastier. Just a hint of tartness and perfectly beautiful for the holidays!

    • — Maggie on December 21, 2022
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  • I absolutely love this cake. I’ve made it a few times and it always comes out perfect. It is light but flavorful. Tender inside with a lovely crust from the sugar. So delicious!

    • — Jennifer on December 20, 2022
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  • This is our go to cake. Wonderful!!! My 11 year old daughter makes it on her own.

    • — Carmen on December 20, 2022
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  • Question: can this be made a day ahead? or is it best served same day. thank you

    • — Vicki Cohen on December 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Vicki, it keeps nicely for a few days so it’s perfectly fine to make it a day ahead. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 20, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I’d love to try this recipe but I have a dairy intolerance. While eggs are ok, butter is not. Can I substitue vegetable oil and, if so, what amount do you think I should use?

    Love your recipes, they never disappoint!

    • — Melissa on December 17, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! You need something solid to cream the sugar with so if you need something non-dairy, I’d go with a non-dairy butter substitute (in stick form) or solidified coconut oil. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 18, 2022
      • Reply
  • This has become a favourite in our house.

    • — Muriel Sylvia Roden on December 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • Should the cake be refrigerated if you make it the day before an event you want to serve it at?
    Thanks so much!

    • — Enza on December 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Enza, you can store it at room temperature. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2022
      • Reply
  • I’ve made this several times and it turns out beautifully every time! Surprisingly easy yet elegant. It’s perfect as is, but I’ve also used Morgan spiced rum and added another apple. And I love that the recipe clearly describes every step.

    • — Olivia on December 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this cake as written (except used Crown Apple for the booze) and it was wonderful. Is it possible to substitute almond flour ??? Love all of your recipes and inspiration !

    • — Marlis on December 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Marlis, Glad you enjoyed it! If you want to use almond flour, I’d start out by using just a little. If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you’ll see some useful info about baking with almond flour.

      • — Jenn on December 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • This works beautifully with one to one gluten free flour. Also we substituted whiskey for the rum. Delicious!

    • — Katherine on December 3, 2022
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  • This is my go to recipe for something simple yet excellent. It’s light and delicate but oh-so-delicious.
    I won’t lie, I’ve had this cake for breakfast with a cup of coffee, it isn’t overly sweet and I love the tartness of granny smith apples.
    Make it, you won’t be disappointed.

    • — Joëlle on December 2, 2022
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  • Would the cake still be fresh and ok to serve at a dinner party if you make the cake a day in advance

    • — Charlotte Connelly on December 1, 2022
    • Reply
    • Yep, it keeps nicely!

      • — Jenn on December 2, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made this delicious cake yesterday for my family. It was a hit. Of course, I had to keep a piece for myself intending to eat it over a couple of days. Well, I ate it all yesterday. Thanks for such a great recipe.

    • — Ann on December 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Wonderful recipe-this is a winner! And you could use Calvados-French apple brandy although the rum addition was so good!

    • — Lorna on November 30, 2022
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  • This cake came out perfect and it was ridiculously easy to make! I love how simple it is – it pairs well with whipped cream. My younger siblings all loved it!

    • — Ana Roque-Lara on November 30, 2022
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  • Just came out of the oven, looks beautiful. Daughter running out to get vanilla ice cream.

    • — Mary on November 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • Could I bake this pie in a rectangular baking pan? If so, what size? I would like to cut it into pieces and bring to a party….

    • — Claudia on November 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Claudia, I’d probably go with the 9-inch square pan. The cake will not be as deep and will take less time in the oven so keep a close eye on it. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on November 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • 15 minutes to make, 40 minutes to bake, and delish. An apple lovers delight.

    • — CJM on November 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Great recipe, beautiful flavor

    • — Elena on November 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this for thanksgiving and it was a hit!

    • — Margot on November 24, 2022
    • Reply

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