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.
French Apple Cake
French apple cake is the essence of simplicity. (Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
9/25/2023
Updated:
9/25/2023
0:00
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

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
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

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Begin by combining the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. No need to sift; just whisk well.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Set aside. Then, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Add the eggs one at a time.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Beat in the vanilla extract and rum.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

It will look a little grainy at this point; that’s okay.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Add the dry ingredients.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Mix until just combined.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Add the chopped apples.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Use a rubber spatula to fold the apples into the batter.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Have a 9-inch springform pan greased or a 9-inch cake pan greased, lined with parchment, and greased again.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even the top.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Bake the cake for about 40 minutes, until golden and crisp on top.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
Serve warm or room temperature, plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 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.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

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.

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.

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

Per serving (8 servings)

Calories: 279, Fat: 13g, Saturated fat: 8g, Carbohydrates: 35g, Sugar: 22g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 3g, Sodium: 66mg, Cholesterol: 77mg
This article was originally published on OnceUponaChef.comFollow on Instagram.
Jennifer is a classically trained chef, Cookbook author, and busy mom. She became interested in cooking in college while studying abroad in France and living with a French family. She is a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine. Visit OnceUponaChef.com.
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