This simple French Apple Cake is moist, buttery, tender and one of the easiest cakes to make. Lightly infused with either rum or apple brandy and brimming with pieces of fresh apples, this traditional French apple cake is perfect served for dessert or breakfast and a great addition to the holidays and special occasions.
The Best French Apple Cake Recipe
This French Apple Cake is the right dessert to make if you are new to baking or if you are looking for a quick, easy and delicious cake recipe made with simple ingredients.
Why We Love This Apple Dessert Cake
- This apple cake is light and airy yet has a rich and creamy texture due to the apples in the cake batter.
- This is a super easy recipe that doesn’t require you to have any baking experience.
- This recipe is made with simple ingredients and no fancy equipment is required.
- This is not an overly sweet cake so it can be served for breakfast, brunch, as a snack and of course as dessert.
- This is the perfect recipe to bake during fall when apples are plentiful.
French Apple Cake Recipe Ingredients
- Apples: You can use one type of apples or a combination of different types of apples. Some good apples for baking are Granny Smith, Pink lady, Jonagold and Fuji.
- Rum or Brandy: White or spiced rum as well as apple brandy (Calvados) work well for this recipe. Pear liqueur is also a good option. You can omit the rum or the brandy if preferred. You don’t need to substitute this ingredient.
- Flour: I used all-purpose flour.
- Butter: I prefer using unsalted butter when baking but you can use salted butter if that’s what you have at home.
- Sugar: For this recipe, I use granulated sugar for the cake batter and confectioners’ sugar for the top.
- Eggs: I use large eggs.
- Flavorings: Vanilla extract, salt.
- Leavening: Baking powder.
What kind of apples are best for apple cake?
There are many options when it comes to choosing the right apples for baking. I like using a combination of apples which provides different textures and flavors to your baked goods. Some great options are Granny Smith and Honeycrisp which are firm and tart and hold their shape well. Some sweeter options are Fuji, Gala and Braeburn. Pink Lady and McIntosh are also great apples for baking.
How To make French Apple Cake From Scratch
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch springform pan or a regular 9-inch cake pan.
- Whisk Dry Ingredients: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Mix Wet Ingredients: You can mix the batter by hand or using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and the calvados or rum and mix to combine. The batter may look grainy at this point.
- Add Dry Ingredients Into Wet Mixture: Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
- Add Apples: Fold in the chopped apples and mix to combine. The batter will be thick.
- Bake: Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. You can smooth the top a bit with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with about a tablespoon of granulated sugar and bake for about 40 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool: Cool for about 30 minutes and unmold.
- Dust: Using a fine sieve, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar (optional). Serve warm or at room temperature.
French Apple Cake FAQ
You have questions? We have answers!
What can I Use Instead of Rum In Apple Cake?
For this French Apple Cake recipe you can use apple brandy (Calvados). You can also omit the alcohol altogether. You won’t need to use any other ingredient as substitution.
How to Serve this French Apple Dessert
This cake can be served warm, at room temperature or cold and it’s absolutely delicious by itself. Here are some topping ideas that pair beautifully with this cake:
- Vanilla ice cream.
- Sweetened whipped cream.
- Caramel drizzle like this homemade salted caramel sauce.
- Additional dusting of confectioners’ sugar.
Can I make French Apple Cake Ahead of Time
Yes, this cake can be made ahead of time. Keep it covered at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the fridge in an airtight container for 5 days.
Storing and Freezing Apple Cake with Fresh Apples
- This cake can be kept covered, at room temperature for 2 days.
- Cool completely and refrigerate in an airtight container for 5 days.
- This cake freezes well. Cool it completely and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Place it in an airtight container or a large resealable plastic bag and freeze for 2-3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bring it to room temperature before serving.
French Apple Dessert Tips
- Serve it topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to add a little extra sweetness to the cake.
- You can omit the rum or the brandy if preferred. You don’t need to substitute them in this recipe.
Recipe adapted from Around My French Table cookbook by Dorie Greenspan
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French Apple Cake Recipe
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar,
plus more for the top of the cake
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons calvados apple brandy or dark rum
- 2 apples like Granny Smith, honey crisp, Fuji or gala (3 1/2 – 4 cups chopped), peeled, cored and chopped into about 1/2-inch pieces.
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the inside of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray or butter. You can also use a regular 9-inch baking cake pan lined with a parchment paper circle and greased with cooking spray or butter.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
- You can mix the cake batter by hand, with a handheld electric mixer or with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each to incorporate before adding the next one. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla and the calvados or rum and mix to combine. The batter may look grainy at this point.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
- With the help of a spatula, fold in the chopped apples and mix to combine. The batter will be thick.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. You can smooth the top a bit with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar (about a tablespoon).
- Bake for about 40 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake pan to a cooling rack and cool for about 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake and if using a springform pan, remove the sides. If using a regular baking pan, turn it out onto a cake plate or wire rack and remove the parchment paper.
- Using a fine sieve, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar (optional). The cake can be served warm or at room temperature.
- The cake can be served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
- This cake freezes well.
- Cool completely and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Place it in an airtight container or a large resealable plastic bag and freeze for 2-3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bring it to room temperature before serving.