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Easy French Apple Cake Recipe

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Practically a cross between a custard, a pie, and a cake, this French apple cake recipe is almost like magic. Packed full of juicy apples, creamy butter, and a secret ingredient (okay, it’s rum!), this sweet French apple cake is incredibly delicious and surprisingly easy to make.

A slice of French apple cake on a dessert plate.

If you like this recipe, you will also love our Jewish apple cake and our Caramel apple cake.

Why You’ll Love This French Apple Cake Recipe

There is a certain sophistication to French cooking that can be intimidating for some cooks. It’s so intimidating that they might go out of their way to avoid any recipe labeled ‘French’.

But, don’t let that be the case with this apple cake. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated to make or have ingredients that are difficult to find!

The secret to making something that tastes spectacular and will leave people raving about your food is to start with the right ingredients. If you scrimp on the ingredients, you scrimp on the results.

That is most definitely the case for this sweet dessert!

What Is French Apple Cake?

French apple cake is a classic French dessert that is more of a custard-like cake. It is filled with apples and blended with just enough binding ingredients to hold this cake together.

Ingredients Needed For Apple Cake Recipe

The main ingredient is, of course, apples but there isn’t anything complicated in this dessert. There are only eight other ingredients and I’m sure you have them all.

  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Rum
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt

No unusual ingredients here! If you do any baking at all, you should have all these ingredients. Well, maybe the rum isn’t a standard baking ingredient. Or is it? It kinda is for me but I digress.

Quick Recipe Tips:

  • Use real butter, not margarine.
  • Get out the real vanilla extract, not the cheap imitation stuff. 
  • Try to use fresh crisp apples; throw the old mealy ones in the compost.
  • By the way, if you don’t have any rum or you just don’t want to use it, then add a bit more vanilla extract.
  • Don’t forget- Good ingredients will give you great results. Most of all, you will get raving compliments when you pay attention to quality!
Ingredients needed to make a French apple cake.

Video Tutorial

Follow along with this video tutorial (toward the top of the post) to see how we made this easy French apple cake! You can also see it on our YouTube channel.

If you prefer written instructions, keep scrolling to find a detailed list of instructions at the bottom of this post.

How To Make French Cake With Apples

Don’t let French cuisine or from-scratch baking intimidate you. This will be the easiest dessert you will ever bake.

We’ve listed out the basic instructions below to give you an idea of how easy it is to make this buttery french apple cake recipe!

Note: Make sure not to skip the full printable recipe card at the bottom of the page. There, you’ll find all of the ingredient amounts and details you’ll need.

Before you start cooking anything, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10-inch springform pan with butter (alternately line it with parchment paper which will make the cake very easy to remove from the pan).

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients: In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Prep the apples: After you have thoroughly washed the apples, peel, core, and thinly slice each of the apples.
  3. Mix all of the wet ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until they are foamy followed by the sugar, rum, and vanilla.
  4. Blend the wet and dry ingredients: Whisk in half of the dry mixture with the wet until well-blended. Add in half of the melted butter. Repeat with the rest.
  5. Add in apples: Fold in the sliced apples, coating them completely with the batter then pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake and enjoy: Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick or knife inserted into the middle comes out without batter stuck to it. Let the cake cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
A collage of 6 photos showing how to make a French apple cake.

What To Serve With This French Dessert

This French apple cake is absolutely decadent all on its own.

If you would like to pair this French dessert with something else, I recommend making a batch of creamy vanilla ice cream and some french roast coffee!

Two slices of French apple cake on dessert plates.

Frequently Asked Questions About French Apple Cake

When putting together this cake recipe, we came across a couple of frequently asked questions we wanted to answer.

What kind of equipment do you need to make this dessert?

To make this cake, you’ll need:

  1. 10-inch springform pan
  2. Mixing bowl
  3. Whisk
  4. Apple peeler/corer

Yep, that’s all you really need but I really recommend using parchment paper as well!

Parchment paper is a genius invention that has a multitude of uses. Unlike wax paper, it does not have wax on it and it can be used as a non-stick surface for baking. It will make this French apple cake come out of the pan like a breeze.

Which kind of apples work best in this easy French apple cake recipe?

I must say that this is more ‘apple’ than ‘cake’ and your selection of apples will determine the final flavor more than anything.

As the original recipe suggests, I have used a variety of apples. This is also how I make my apple pies as well; it enhances the flavor and gives it depth!

For this specific recipe, I used Granny Smith, Braeburn, and Honey Crisp apples. These hold up really well when cooked and don’t turn into a mushy mess. A few other suggestions you may want to try are:

  • Mutsu
  • Pink Lady
  • Jonagolds
  • Winesap
  • Cortlands

How do you store this French cake?

You can store this cake for 3-5 days if it stays covered properly in the fridge and stored in an airtight container. It will taste even better the next day after the flavors have time to intensify!

Make certain to let the cake cool off completely before you store it. If it is still warm when you cover it, then the condensation will build up and make the cake pretty wet.

Can I freeze this apple cake?

Since this is more of a custard-based cake, I don’t recommend freezing it. Technically, you can freeze it but, once it is thawed, you will notice a change in the texture. It is much better eaten within a few days of baking. And let’s be honest, that won’t be a problem.

A French apple cake with powdered sugar on a cake platter.

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This recipe was adapted from Dorie Greenspan‘s book, Around My French Table. We have modified the ingredients to fit a larger pan because everyone always wants seconds.

A slice of French apple cake on a dessert plate.

Easy French Apple Cake

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

An incredibly delicious apple cake with a custard-like consistency. It is almost a cross between a custard, a pie and a cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 large apples, about 2 pounds (Use a variety of apples for the best result)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 3 ½ tablespoons (49g) rum
  • ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 10 tablespoons (5 oz or 142g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and grease a 10-inch springform pan with butter (alternately line it with parchment paper which will make the cake very easy to remove from the pan)
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt then set aside.
  3. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs for 1-2 minutes until they are foamy. Pour in the sugar, rum, and vanilla and whisk for another minute.
  5. Whisk in half of the flour mixture until well-blended then blend in half of the melted butter. Repeat with the remaining flour and butter and blend until smooth.
  6. Fold in the sliced apples, coating them completely with the batter then pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
  7. Smooth the batter out then place in the pre-heated oven. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick or knife inserted into the middle comes out without batter stuck to it.
  8. Let the cake cool for 5 to 10 minutes then run a blunt knife around the edge of the pan to loosen any cake that may be stuck to the sides.
  9. If the bottom of the pan is lined with parchment paper, the cake will slide out quite easily once the sides of the springform pan is removed. If the pan is not lined with parchment paper you will need to slide a long knife under the bottom of the cake to loosen it from the pan then invert it onto a plate that is lined with parchment paper then invert it again onto a serving platter (this will be accomplished easier if you allow the cake to cool completely)

Notes

  1. This cake stores well for 3-5 days in the refrigerator and actually is better on the second day.
  2. This is a very moist cake. Be sure to cool it completely before loosely covering it and placing it in the fridge, if it is still warm before covering it then condensation will build up and make the cake wet.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 325Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7.8gSodium: 163mgFiber: 3.6gSugar: 34gProtein: 3.8g

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French apple cake

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Terry L Reisz

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

I made the ATK version twice and although it was delicious, it seemed oily.I was going to try the applesauce substitution the next time. I'm a frantic cook who tends to miss steps and skip ingredients w/o intending to. When I saw "Easy" in the title of this recipe, I thought hmmpf, but gee whiz, it's spectacular, and easy and I didn't forget anything. My only change was starting w/2# apples that turned into 1# peeled and cored was plenty. Loved it loved it loved it. Thank you so much.

Dahn Boquist

Saturday 13th of February 2021

Oh thanks for the comment Terry, I'm so glad it worked out for you. This is one of my favorites

JoAnn Trafton

Friday 13th of September 2019

Please advise what is the correct baking time!

JoAnn Trafton

Friday 13th of September 2019

Yes, it does read 60 to 70 minutes in step 7, however in the beginning description it reads cooking time is 30 minutes, thus the confusion

Dahn Boquist

Friday 13th of September 2019

Hi JoAnn, it's in step 7... bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Set the oven to 350°F and make sure it is hot before you put it in the oven. Hope you enjoy this

Alyssa

Tuesday 19th of March 2019

Dahn, , what a gorgeous cake! Your directions make this seem like such an easy approach, too. I would love to make this soon!

Dahn Boquist

Tuesday 19th of March 2019

Thank you Alyssa, it really is an easy recipe. I hope you do try it. Thanks for the kind comment.

Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen

Tuesday 3rd of October 2017

I adore custard pies and apple pies - this looks like the best of both worlds! What a lovely texture!

Dahn

Tuesday 3rd of October 2017

It really is the best of both worlds and so easy to make!

Dahn

Monday 25th of September 2017

Thanks Tina, I really like the einkorn flour too and this is a great recipe to start if you have not tried it yet

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