French Apple Cake

Layer upon layer of apple slices meld with a custardy cake batter spiked with spiced rum in this dessert inspired by the classic Normandy Apple Cake.

5.0 from 2 reviews
French Apple Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
  • 7 cups (714 grams) ¼-inch-thick sliced unpeeled Honeycrisp apples
  • 5 cups (520 grams) ¼-inch-thick sliced unpeeled Pink Lady apples
  • 16 tablespoons (192 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 4½ teaspoons (22.5 grams) dark rum, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs (150 grams), room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons (6 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons (7.5 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) sparkling sugar
  • Garnish: confectioners’ sugar
  • Crème fraîche, to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Butter a 9-inch round copper cake pan*. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; flour sides of pan.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together apple slices, 2 tablespoons (24 grams) granulated sugar, 3 teaspoons (15 grams) rum, and lemon juice. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Place apples on prepared baking sheets; bake until apples have softened and released significant moisture, 20 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. (Apples will be slightly reduced in size but still retain their shape.) Let cool on pans for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).
  4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until pale and foamy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, remaining 14 tablespoons (168 grams) granulated sugar, and remaining 1½ teaspoons (7.5 grams) rum; whisk until well combined.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture alternately with melted butter, beginning and ending with flour mixture, whisking just until combined after each addition.
  6. Reserve 14 apple slices; using a large silicone spatula, fold remaining apple slices into batter. Using a small offset spatula, spread batter in prepared cake pan, pressing down to distribute batter between apples and into edges of pan; smooth into an even layer. Arrange reserved 14 apple slices over top as desired; sprinkle with sparkling sugar.
  7. Bake until golden brown and set, 1 to 1½ hours, covering with foil after 50 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning. Let cool completely in pan. Run a thin silicone or nylon offset spatula around edges of pan to loosen. Serve cake from pan using a nylon or silicone cake server, or transfer to desired serving plate. Garnish with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Serve with crème fraîche.
When removing your baked goods from copper pans use silicone spatulas or wooden spoons Using sharp metal utensils will scratch through the tin lining and into your lovely copper


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  1. I made this cake on Saturday and brought it for brunch at a friend’s house, celebrating us all being vaccinated and able to hang out again. What an incredibly good flavor! Love the texture of the apples and cake as well; I cut the apples into chunks rather than slices and it worked just fine. The rum gives it a great flavor; our dark rum isn’t spiced, so I added 1 tsp cinnamon, a pinch of ground cloves and a few grates of a nutmeg.

  2. I made this cake on Sunday, just because why not. It turned out great, I cut the apples into chunks as well, and sliced one apple to put on the top for decoration. I used a lightly spiced rum that we bought on holidays in Roatan Honduras. Thanks for sharing the recipe.


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