French apple cake is perfect in it’s simplicity. It’s flavored with brown butter, rum and vanilla. The sugary crust encasing the cake crackles with every bite.
This is my ideal type of baked treat. The cake is rich with browned butter and an extra egg yolk, but it’s not overly sweet. Fruit is the star of the show here, with just enough batter to hold the apples together in the oven.
- Apples – The cake is stuffed with chunks of fresh apple. Use any firm apple that can hold up in the oven.
- Brown butter – Browning the butter adds an extra level of flavor to the cake.
- Vanilla extract – Combines with brown butter and rum for excellent flavor.
- Dark rum – Is optional but highly recommended. Remember, alcohol enhances flavors.
- All purpose flour – Using a medium protein flour gives the cake enough gluten to hold in the apples, but the crumb is still tender.
- Eggs – Adding an extra egg yolk to the batter enriches the cake.
- Granulated sugar – Sugar is sprinkled in the pan and on top of the cake for a crunchy crust.
How to make French Apple Cake
- Butter the cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper if you have it. Butter the parchment.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar into the pan and roll it around to coat the pan.
- Pour the excess sugar out of the pan and reserve it to top the cake.
- Peel, core and chop the apples into 1/2″ chunks.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
- Cook until the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan and turn brown.
- Strain or drain the butter into a small bowl, leaving the milk solids in the pan.
- Add the vanilla and rum to the brown butter and set it aside to cool while you make the cake batter.
- Mix the eggs and sugar until combined, then drizzle in the brown butter.
- Mix until the eggs and butter are emulsified and the batter is aerated.
- Fold the flour into the batter.
- Fold the apples into the batter.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the reserved sugar over the top.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool for 20 minutes before releasing the sides of the pan.
Pastry Chef tips for making French Apple Cake
- A springform pan is the best option for this cake. You can use a regular cake pan but make sure the cake is completely cool before trying to turn it out of the pan.
- You can use any type of apple in this recipe. I like to use firm apples that have plenty of acidity. You can also use a mix of sweet and tart apples. Try not to use a very soft apple as they may break down completely while baking.
- When you fold the apple chunks into the cake batter it will seem like too much apple. In the oven, the cake batter will expand and encase the apples.
- The cake is best the day it’s baked because that’s when the crust is most crisp. It will keep 1-2 days at room temperature.
- The rum is optional but highly recommended for the fullest flavor. If you omit the rum use an extra teaspoon of vanilla.
- Serve the cake with barely sweetened crème fraîche for a real French treat.
We love French Pastries. Here are more recipes for you to try: Pate a Choux, Chocolate Marveilluex, Baba au Rhum, Marolaine, Kouign-Amann, Caneles, Macarons, Sable Cookies, Madeleines and a romantic Coeur a la Creme.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.
French Apple Cake Recipe
- 2 pounds apples (about 4, see note)
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ounce Dark rum (2 tablespoons)
- 5 ounces all purpose flour (1 cup, see note)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 8 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup, divided)
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Generously butter a 9" springform pan. Line the bottom with a parchment round if you have one and butter the parchment as well. Sprinkle a ¼ cup of the granulated sugar into the pan. Roll the sugar around in the pan to coat the butter with sugar. Pour out the excess sugar and reserve for topping the cake.
- Peel, core and cut the apples into 1/2" chunks.2 pounds apples
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan, cook until the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan and become brown. Drain the butter into a medium bowl, leaving the solids in the pan. Stir in the rum and vanilla and set aside to cool.4 ounces unsalted butter, 1 ounce Dark rum, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In small bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.5 ounces all purpose flour, ¾ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon table salt
- In a mixing bowl combine the eggs, yolk and ¾ cup granulated sugar. Whisk on medium speed until the eggs are combined. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the browned butter and mix for 2-3 minutes to emulsify and aerate the batter.2 large eggs, 1 egg yolk
- Fold the flour into the egg mixture. Fold in the apples. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the reserved granulated sugar.
- Bake about 45 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before releasing the sides of the pan.
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