French Apple Cake

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Delicious French apple cake is an easy dessert recipe that pulls together quickly but looks and tastes like it came from a high-end bakery! Dense creamy base with a light fluffy cake layer on the top.

A close up of French apple cake after baking

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If you follow along on social media or get my email newsletter you know that we spent two weeks last month traveling around France with our three boys, trying to take advantage of the time we have left stationed here in England. We spent time in the Normandy region and in the Loire Valley.

It was one of those dream trips I spent months planning, but in reality the entire trip was more reminiscent of a National Lampoon movie-one mishap after another! One good thing I did take away from the trip was all the amazing food I tried-like this delicious yet simple French Apple Cake Recipe.

A close up of a French apple cake after baking

Why I love this recipe

I love this dessert because it looks so fancy all served up with powdered sugar but in reality, it whips together quickly and easily.

The cake has a creamy, almost custard-like layer at the bottom and the top is light and fluffy, like a well-done coffee cake. It has a similar flavor profile to our buttery rum cake due to the brandy or rum added to the fresh apples. You don’t need any special equipment or even a mixer to make this cake, just a few bowls, and a springform cake pan.

Ingredients

  • apples
  • Calvados, apple brandy, or dark rum (see note below)
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • eggs
  • sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • unsalted butter
  • powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Apples are a specialty in the Normandy region, they have an apple brandy called Calvados that they are quite proud of, and rightfully so, it’s delicious!  This apple cake uses Calvados but if you don’t have that or apple brandy you can easily use a dark rum as a substitute and the result will still be amazing. 

How to pick apples for baking

For best results, choose a baking apple that will hold its shape for this French Apple Cake. Varieties such as Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, Braeburn, and Jonagold are all good options.

You can also choose to mix the apples to play with the flavor. Choosing both sweet and tart apples is a favorite combination of mine.

You might also like some of my other apple desserts such as my Homemade Apple BreadApple Baked French Toast, and Crumbly Old Fashioned Apple Pie or this Cinnamon Apple Cake with Crackle Glaze from Shaken Together.

Step by step

  1. Preheat oven and pray a 9-inch springform pan (affiliate link) with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Core the apples and slice into thin slices.
  3. Place apple slices in a medium bowl and pour over the Calvados, toss to coat. Allow the slices of apples to soak while you prepare the cake batter.
  4. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl add eggs and mix with a wire whisk until frothy.
  6. Add vanilla extract and sugar and mix until combined.
  7. Add the melted butter and continue to stir.
  8. Add dry ingredients a little at a time stirring constantly until batter is uniform.
  9. Fold in apples with a rubber spatula, making sure to include any remaining Calvados at the bottom of the bowl.
  10. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and pat down the apples with a spatula.
  11. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  12. Let the cake cool on a wire rack at least 5 minutes before removing from pan.
  13. Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

Tips for best results

  • Do not over-mix the cake batter, mix until just incorporated to keep the cake light and airy.
  • Tap the cake pan on the counter a few times before placing in the oven to release any trapped air bubbles in the batter for even baking.
A close up of a French apple cake after baking with a slice removed to show the inside of the cake on a dark table with powdered sugar around it

Serving suggestions

I like this cake simply dusted with powdered sugar but it is delicious served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, crème fraîche, or whipped cream. 

Storage

Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

You can freeze this cake whole or in individual slices. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil or transfer to a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

If you try this recipe please comment and rate it below, I love hearing from you!

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French apple cake on black surface

French Apple Cake


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5 from 1 review

Description

Delicious French apple cake is an easy dessert recipe that pulls together quickly but looks and tastes like it came from a high end bakery! Dense creamy base with a light fluffy cake layer on the top.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 large apples (baking variety is best)
  • 3 tablespoons Calvados, apple brandy, or dark rum
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan (affiliate link) with baking spray (affiliate link) (or butter and lightly flour the surface.)
  2. Core the apples and slice into 1/8 thick slices.
  3. Place apple slices in a medium bowl and pour over the Calvados, toss to coat and allow to soak.
  4. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl add eggs and mix with a wire whisk until frothy.
  6. Add vanilla extract and sugar and mix until combined.
  7. Add butter and continue to stir.
  8. Add flour mixture a little at a time stirring constantly until batter is uniform.
  9. Fold in apples, making sure to include any remaining Calvados at the bottom of the bowl.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and pat down the apples with a spatula.
  11. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  12. Cool at least 5 minutes before removing from pan.
  13. Dust with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

Notes

I recommend using a baking apple that will hold it’s shape for this Apple Cake. Varieties such as Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, Braeburn, and Jonagold are all good options.

Do not overmix the batter, mix only until just blended.

Tap the cake pan on the counter a few times before baking to release any trapped air bubbles.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: French

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 269
  • Sugar: 28.7 g
  • Sodium: 420.9 mg
  • Fat: 7.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 42.4 g
  • Protein: 3.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 46.5 mg
An apple cake after baking with a sliced lifted out showing the inside of the cake

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14 Comments

  1. The cake is in the oven and it looks delicious. So easy to make! I arranged apples on top in a centric circle and sprinkled with a course sugar. I added finely grated orange rind, Grand Marnier, and currants to the sliced apples before they were folded into the batter..

  2. How did you get the sliced
    Apples on your cake to appear well on top?
    After pouring the batter onto the pan,
    Did you put some sliced apples on Top of it??

  3. This cake was delicious, very moist and easy to make. I used a spiced rum and tasted very good. Saved the recipe for the next time I have extra apple. Thank you!






    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it Debi, I love that recipe too! Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave feedback! ~Melissa

  4. Help I’m getting ready to make this and there seems to be a question of how much sugar what is the correct amount?

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