If you have ever wondered what to bake with apples, this easy apple cake will offer the perfect solution. Adapted from the incredible David Lebovitz (who actually adapted it from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook Around My French Table), it is a great alternative to my other favorite fall-inspired apple dessert, Almond Flour Apple Cake.
This French apple rum cake requires just a short list of simple ingredients, many of which are probably already in your pantry. We will need:
- Butter: Unsalted butter allows you to control the level of salt in the cake, but salted butter can also be used. If you decide to use salted butter, be sure to omit using salt in the batter.
- Apples: I used a mix of Honeycrisp apples and Granny Smith apples, but you can use any variety of apples. Some other good baking apples include Fuji, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Jonagold, and Pink Lady.
- All Purpose Flour
- Baking Powder
- Kosher Salt
- Whole Eggs: Use large eggs for the most consistent texture.
- Coconut Sugar: Since we only share desserts made with natural sweeteners, I made this easy fresh apple cake with coconut sugar, but you can use your favorite dry granulated sugar, like regular white sugar or brown sugar.
- Dark Rum: Dark rum transforms it from a regular apple cake to an easy French apple rum cake with a touch more elegance. My favorite rum to use here is Myer’s or Mount Gay.
- Vanilla Extract: If a fresh apple cake with rum is not your cup of tea (or prefer a no-alcohol version), you can skip the rum altogether and use a full tablespoon of vanilla extract in its place.
How to Make an Apple Cake?
For a fast and easy method, I like to bake the apple cake in a springform pan. With that being said, you can use a regular cake pan, just make sure to grease the pan well before adding the batter. Here’s how I like to do it:
- Prep equipment: Place the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Generously butter an 8-inch** round springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, place it on a sheet pan, and set it aside.
- Melt butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Set it aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the batter.
- Prepare the apples: Remove the core and peel the apples, then cut into 1-inch chunks.
- Mix dry ingredients: In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Whisk wet ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until thoroughly mixed and glossy. Then, whisk in the rum and vanilla.
- Make apple batter: Add half of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, followed by half of the melted butter. Alternate once more with the rest of the flour and remaining butter and stir until just combined. Fold in the apple chunks, making sure each one is coated with the batter.
- Bake: Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 50 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool: Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to gently loosen the cake from the pan. Remove the sides of the springform pan or gently remove from the cake pan. Transfer to a cake platter or large plate. Cool for at least 1 hour. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar (if preferred), before serving.
How to Store This Apple Cake?
This easy French apple cake recipe is a great make-ahead cake that you can enjoy throughout the week. While it is best on the day it is made, it keeps fresh if stored properly. Here is how I do it:
- Storage: The apple rum cake will keep fresh for up to 3 days at room temperature, covered on the kitchen counter. Since the cake itself is very moist, it’s best to store it covered with a cake dome, overturned bowl, or with a few toothpicks inserted throughout the top of the cake and then tented with plastic wrap.
- Freezing: Due to the high ratio of liquid coming from the apples, I do not recommend freezing this cake.
How to Serve?
Whether you want to enjoy this apple cake as the French do or give it more of an American spin, some of my favorite ways to serve include:
- Ice Cream: Serve it slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, such as Honey Vanilla Ice Cream or more decadent caramel ice cream.
- Cream / Sugar: Finish it with a dollop of creme fraiche, mascarpone cheese, Maple Whipped Cream, or a simple sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar.
- Sauce: Drizzle it with storebaught caramel sauce, date caramel sauce, or fruit preserves.
- Coffee / Tea: The sweet apple cake goes particularly well with bitter espresso or a mild cup of tea, such as Earl Grey.
- Wine: Serve it as the French would, with a chilled glass of Sauternes (a sweet dessert wine) or an after-dinner beverage, like Calvados or Brandy.
There are many different variations of apple cake throughout the world thanks to regional and religious influences. The first version of French apple cake, tarte tatin, which is technically more like an upside-down version of apple pie, was invented by the Tatin sisters at their hotel Lamotte Beuvron in the 19th century.
Simply replace the dark rum with more vanilla extract. Feel free to use up to one full tablespoon of vanilla extract.
Apple pie is an apple dessert where apples are the filling between two crusts made from shortcrust pastry. Apple cake, on the other hand, is diced apples surrounded by a batter made primarily of butter, flour, and sugar.
Other Baked Goods with Apples You Might Also Like:
Wondering what you can make with fresh apples? Well, you have come to the right place. Here are a few other apple recipes you might also like:
If you try this French Apple Cake, please take a minute to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. And if you took some pictures, be sure to share them on Instagram using #foolproofeats so I can share them on my stories.
French Apple Cake Recipe
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for greasing the pan (110gr.)
- 4 large apples ~2 pounds, I used a mix of Honey Crisp and Granny Smith Apples
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour 110 gr.
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ¾ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar*
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon powdered sugar optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Generously butter an 8-inch** round springform pan. Line it with parchment paper, place it on a sheet pan, and set it aside.
- Place butter in a small saucepan and heat until fully melted. Let it cool off the heat while you are working on the rest of the ingredients.
- Core and peel apples, then cut them into 1-inch chunks. Set them aside.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set it aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until thoroughly mixed. Whisk in the rum and vanilla.
- Whisk half of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, followed by half of the now-cooled melted butter.
- Stir in the rest of the flour mixture and butter. Whisk until fully combined.
- Fold in the apple chunks and make sure that they are fully coated with the batter.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Place the cake pan on a sheet pan (we do this to catch any bubbling juices.)
- Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let it cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife through the edges to loosen the cake from the pan.
- Transfer to a cake platter (or a wire rack) and let it cool for at least an hour before serving. If preferred, you can sprinkle it with a small amount of powdered sugar before serving.
- Yields: This recipe makes an 8-inch cake (8 slices). The nutritional values below are per slice.
- Sugar: You can substitute coconut sugar with an equal amount of brown sugar or granulated sugar. If you use granulated sugar, the surface of the cake will not brown as much.
- Cake pan: A 9-inch springform pan would also work, but the cake will be thinner. If you do not own a springform, you can make this in a cake pan, but make sure to grease it well so that it will come out easily.
- No alcohol version: If you prefer to use no alcohol or just want to skip the rum altogether, use a full tablespoon of vanilla extract in its place.
- Storage: This cake will keep fresh for up to 3 days at room temperature, covered on the kitchen counter. Since the cake itself is very moist, it’s best to store it covered with a cake dome, overturned bowl, or with a few toothpicks inserted throughout the top of the cake and then tented with plastic wrap. Alternatively, you can cut it into slices and store in an airtight container.
- Serving suggestions: A dollop of crème fraîche is possibly the most French way of serving it, but you can also top it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Cubed Apples: As you can see in the pictures, this cake is a bit different than your usual batter-heavy apple cake recipe. Rather, it is cubed apples covered with cake batter. Please be aware that due to the high moisture content of the cubed apples, it doesn’t rise as much as you would expect.