Invisible Apple Maple Cake

Invisible Apple Maple cake

A fabulously French invention, the gâteau invisible stacks layer upon layer of extra-thinly sliced apples, which seemingly vanish upon baking in a creamy, vanilla-scented custard base. We created this Invisible Apple Maple Cake by adding a pop of maple flavor in the form of rich crystalline maple sugar, adding a natural dose of sweetness to the delicious disappearing act.

Find this recipe and more maple-inspired bakes in our September/October issue here!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Invisible Apple Maple Cake
Makes 1 (8½ x 4½-inch) cake
  • ½ cup (100 grams) maple sugar*
  • ½ cup (120 grams) whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams), room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) maple extract
  • ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon (3 grams) vanilla bean paste
  • ¾ cup (94 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 5 cups (925 grams) ⅛-inch-sliced peeled Honeycrisp apples (see Note)
  • ¼ cup (18 grams) sliced almonds
  • Garnish: maple syrup
  1. Preheat oven 350°F (180°C). Spray an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan with baking spray with flour. Line pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together maple sugar, milk, eggs, melted butter, baking powder, maple extract, salt, and vanilla bean paste until well combined. Whisk in flour until smooth. Carefully fold in apples until evenly coated.
  3. Starting on one long side of prepared pan, shingle 4 to 5 apple slices in columns until bottom of pan is filled. Gently press to level, turn pan 180 degrees, and repeat layering and pressing. Repeat with remaining apples until pan is filled. Pour remaining batter on top of apples, and let stand until batter settles, about 1 minute. Sprinkle edges with almonds.
  4. Bake until almonds are golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cover with foil, and bake until set and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 200°F (93°C), about 20 minutes more. Let cool in pan for 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate, and serve chilled.
*We used Shady Maple Farms Maple Sugar.

Note: Using a mandoline is a big help getting uniform slices of apples.


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    • Hi Roger,

      Thank you so much for your questions! You can absolutely substitute maple syrup for the maple extract. Maple syrup doesn’t have quite as strong of a concentrated maple flavor when compared to maple extract, but it’ll still add a hint of that maple flavor that you’re after. For this recipe, you can substitute maple syrup for the maple extract 1:1 (1 teaspoon of maple syrup being added instead of 1 teaspoon of maple extract).

      If you’re looking to substitute vanilla extract for the vanilla bean paste, we recommend substituting 1:1 by volume. In this recipe, that means you’ll be adding 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean paste.

      Hope this helps, and happy baking!

    • Hi Debi,

      Thank you so much for this question! We haven’t tested this recipe with Bird’s Custard powder. Because the recipe uses a combination of eggs and flour to stabilize and thicken the custard as it bakes, it would be hard to recommend a 1:1 substitution of custard powder for this recipe. Also, the custard base used in this recipe isn’t a traditional custard, as it needs to be thick enough to hold the structure of the cake. Please let us know if you have any luck experimenting!

      Happy Baking!

  1. I have two questions since I would like to give this recipe a try. When slicing the peeled apples on a mandoline, I assume I should also core them first? Also, I am having trouble locating maple sugar. Is that usually an item that needs to be purchased online? Thanks for your help.

    • Thank you so much for your questions!

      For the apples, yes, you’ll definitely want to core them before slicing on the mandoline.

      For the maple sugar, we used Shady Maple Farms Maple Sugar, which can be found at most higher end grocery stores (Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, etc.) However, it might require a bit of a hunt, so ordering online is an equally viable option.

      Happy Baking!

      • Thank you for your assistance. This was delicious. A surprisingly ‘light’ dessert that lets the maple and apples shine. My layers didn’t look as well defined, but I think it’s because I sliced the apples too thin. For anyone else giving this a try, 3 large Honeycrisps supplied enough apple slices.

  2. I don’t know if it was a site error or a really great joke, but as of mid-January 2022, there’s no photo of the invisible cake on this page. (Or is there…? >grin<) Looking forward to trying this one!

  3. This is delicious! I didn’t have maple sugar, so I used half sugar, half brown sugar. It was so very good. It might be good with a sprinkle of sugar on top as well – get that crusty, sweet deliciousness going. The recipe timing was spot on.

    • Hi Rose! We didn’t test with Golden apples. That type of apple isn’t as firm as when baking with Honeycrisp. This might mean your layers are a little softer but still delicious! Let us know if you try it and how it goes!

    • Hi Neal! Are you asking about how to remove the parchment from the bottom of the cake after it is cooled? Or are you asking about lifting the cake out of the pan? Just let us know. Thanks!


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