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French Apple Cake | A rustic cake with a high apple to cake ratio!

French Apple Cake

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Marie-Hélène’s French Apple Cake is a Dorie Greenspan recipe that’s a repeat performer at my house. I have a penchant for apple desserts, and Dorie’s simple, rustic version that’s packed full of apples hits the mark every time!

Next week will be my last ever French Fridays with Dorie post. As we celebrate the culmination of our French Fridays with Dorie experience,  the focus is on a “Play-It-Again-Dorie” recipe. Our instructions were to remake and post the recipe from  Around My French Table we’ve made most, whether the original or a variation.

French Apple Cake slice on a white dessert plate

Marie-Hélène’s French Apple Cake

One of the first desserts we made for FFwD was  Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake. In fact, it was our fifth recipe back in 2010. Big chunks of apple were held together with a sweet, eggy cake dough and topped with whipped cream or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream before serving. Perfect in the fall, but easily made and adored any time of the year.

Tips for Making This Easy French Apple Cake

  • I used a variety of apples for the best flavor—though I have found Granny Smiths are still a little underdone at the end of the cooking period so if you use that variety,  you may need to cut those pieces a bit smaller. I like choosing 4 different baking apples for the most delicious flavor palate. Crisp, soft, sweet and tart!
  • Check for doneness by piercing an apple or two at the tail end of the baking time with a sharp knife. The knife should slide in without much resistance. If the apples still seem hard, add more baking time. You can always cover the pan with a little foil if you’re concerned about the top getting too dark.
  • This apple laden dessert was wonderful at room temperature, but due to our heatwave, I stored the leftovers in the fridge. I was surprised at how much the cold cake reminded me of a clafoutis, almost like a different dessert. Nonetheless, this French apple cake is one special dessert.
  • If you don’t like to bake with alcohol, feel free to leave out the rum. You can up the vanilla extract to 1 full teaspoon.
French Apple Cake on a white cake plate with a basketweave edge

The Life of a Food Blogger

You non-bloggers may be unaware of a few idiosyncrasies of us food bloggers.

#1 is that a dish must be photographed while the natural light is best. Therefore, the family learns to patiently wait at the dinner table for whatever the dish of the day happens to be. While it is perfectly styled,  the gorgeous loaded plate grows colder by the second as snap after snap is taken for the blog.

#2 is that once a recipe is made, it is rarely repeated. There is always the next blog post to think about and those Nestles’ Tollhouse cookies that were previously whipped up nearly every week, are now off-limits. So when this week’s theme came up, I had to pause. Had I ever made any of the recipes from Around My French Table more than once? Well, there was the Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup when we were assigned to repeat a recipe, and I may be whipping up a chocolate treat for the second time for next week’s grand finale. But today,  I turned to this French apple cake, treasured by many in our group. It’s definitely worth a second or third stint on the table!

More Apple Cakes You’ll Love:

Used in This Recipe:

French Apple Cake | A spectacular, rustic cake with a high apple to cake ratio!

French Apple Cake

A French apple cake chock full of fruit from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Yield 8 servings


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350º. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.
  3. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they're foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it's coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it's evenish.
  5. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it's fully opened, make sure there aren't any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.
  7. Serving
  8. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. Marie-Hélène's served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.
  9. Storing
  10. The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature and, according to my husband, gets more comforting with each passing day. However long you keep the cake, it's best not to cover it - it's too moist. Leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 303Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 83mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 3gSugar: 30gProtein: 3g


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42 comments on “French Apple Cake”

  1. Looks lovely! Really classic!

  2. I’ve bookmarked this one, love the addition of rum:@)

  3. Dear Lizzy, my kids and I always joke that as food bloggers we don’t know what a hot meal tastes like. The best is when there are guests over and we scramble about taking pictures, setting up a display. The show must go on as they say! Your cake looks wonderful…what a beautiful dessert that is perfect for any occasion. I love upside down cakes. xo, Catherine

  4. LOL – it is so true about never making anything twice! I am much sloppier with my photos because I always cook at night, but in restaurants, no-one can eat til I have photographed the meal.

  5. Yup I’ve made that one a few times too!

  6. It looks very beautiful and would be great with some homemade vanilla (or white chocolate) ice cream!

  7. Yes, I concur with the picture taking, everyone’s in a hurry to eat and it’s hard to wait. This apple cake is awesome. I love the large chunks of apples in all that dough. Need a slice now to go with my coffee!

  8. This is my husband’s favorite dessert:) We really love apple cakes and this one looks amazing

  9. Oh yum! That’s like the one I make of Dorie’s…only low-carb!

  10. With all the wonderful desserts you make for your blog I’m surprised you have had the time to make the apple cake often. It made my most favorite, but because I rarely bake it didn’t make most often, which I’m sure my husband wished I made it more.

  11. If we had a vote, it sounds like the apple cake just might be the winner. It seems to have been a big hit with most of us.

  12. What a beauty, Liz! And gorgeously photographed – looks like you caught the light just right, indeed. Good for you for storing slices in the freezer,,,Do believe your très chic apple cake would do a disappearing act before delivery into the icy cold…(The husband is a huge apple fan.)

  13. You can never go wrong with this one, a winner for sure.

  14. Wow! It’s not even fall but I totally crave this delicious apple cake! It would pair so perfectly with my mid-morning cuppa!

  15. You’ve captured the life of a food blogger (and her family) so perfectly. It’s always nice to be reminded that I’m not alone in this. The apple cake looks delicious, and I love the all the big chunks of apples!

  16. That cake sure looks delicious! I love how chunky the apples are in there, and the cake portion looks like it has such great texture! I’m totally with you on the food blogging rules. My family knows not to touch the pretty food and that they’re welcome to the ugly food, haha!

  17. I’ve never met an apple cake I didn’t like, and when topped with cinnamon ice cream… divine!

  18. Liz, I could not agree with you more – from the dessert department, this is the most requested one at our house as well. It is moist and rustic and delicious. And I always make sure to use a variety of sweet and tart apples in this recipe.
    Have a nice weekend,

  19. That was a great cake! It was one I made before I exited the group, my loss on that exit deal, btw. I had also made this cake when a few of us were cooking through Nick Malgieri’s Modern Baker book. Apparently we like apples in cake a whole lot. 🙂 Makes it seem more like pie (my guys are not cake fans but they have been known to eat a pie in one sitting). Yours looks so yummy!

  20. Liz, this cake could easily have made this list – though I put it on a different one. I am with you – apple cake is wonderful any time and I have a couple that I make. I love that this one is fairly small though – just seems to work better for me. And you are right, delicious any time. I’ve played with flavors as well, adding spices. But this really is a perfect cake – to make often.

  21. wow, awesome apple cake, even this recipe more similiar with the dutch version i know before…..
    looks delicious!!!!

  22. yup. I think I have made this nearly a dozen times. Its one I ‘take on the road’ when I am asked to cook at someone else’s or while we are on a vacation. I love how easy it is to change up with just a scant amount of orange zest or whatnot. i very easily could have posted on this one. I think it is universally beloved by the group, no?

  23. I’ve heard so many wonderful reviews of this cake–I can’t believe I’ve never made it! Your photos convince me that I really, really to try it. Looks delicious with a scoop of ice cream!

  24. Hi Liz, oh I made this before and it is delicious, yours looks much better than mine did though.

  25. I think my family would disown me if I said I’d never make this cake again – or maybe not, because my mother and nieces have the recipe and make it themselves, now. I’m interested to see what it would be like chilled, after your description.

  26. Such a great recipe, it’s one of my go-to cake recipes. Mmmm! Thanks for the reminder.

  27. Love it chunky, mmm!!! Plus that ice cream on top 😉 Some dark chocolate drizzle would be awesome, too…

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  28. Just made it and it’s very good. 50 minutes in the oven, kitchen smells great.

  29. A classic choice, Liz! Did you know this is one of Food 52’s Genius recipes too! Your family is lucky to be able to enjoy this one over and over.

  30. Absolutely my kinda dessert loaded with so much fruits, Liz! xoxo

  31. I have to agree that this was a great recipe! I think its the favorite recipe for many Doristas. I’m still not sure which is my favorite. It varies from moment to moment!

  32. You’re absolutely right, Liz, when you discussed the life of food bloggers. We’re always skipping to the next new things and don’t have the opportunity to return to a good former thing. And, yes, I’ve run into the “cooling down” problem as I take photos. First, when we serve food here at this altitude, it cools down so quickly. Usually, when entertaining, Michael and I always got people to the table so we could then serve the food piping hot. Now, because I have to take photos, my friends sometimes get food served “at room temperature.” Some are reluctant to say anything. Others are not! I loved this cake. May I say again, it’s Genius. And, the thought that the Berg clan might be visiting here in August makes my heart swell. And, yes, I will be here. Bring the doggy. Excited about the thought.

  33. Lizzy,
    My hubby hates that recipes hardly ever get repeated and that he has to leave some behind so I can take photos. He doesn’t mind when I give the go ahead to chow down though.

  34. I still need to make this cake but I am waiting until Fall. I liked your blog quirks, so true. I rarely make things twice because there is always another recipe coming. Hope to see you around TWD. I miss my Friday crew already.

  35. I must confess that I’m guilty of repeat posting with a few desserts. Especially chocolate cake. I try to decorate it differently however. When I make this apple cake I guarantee I will make it more than once. It looks divine!

  36. Unlike you I rarely take more than a second to snap photos (I keep thinking I”ll care more about photo quality but still haven’t found the inspiration), but I’m totally with you on not repeating recipes. Even ones we love (including this one), I only occasionally make again.

  37. This apple cake looks amazing!! Perfect for this fall.

  38. Oh my gosh, #2 is SO true, and probably my husband’s only one complaint when it comes to being married to a food blogger! He’s always asking me to make xyz again, but you know how it is! That said, I know that this cake would make a repeat appearance!

  39. I have been on an apple kick lately I think this one will make me very happy today!

  40. This looks so yummy that I must ry it! Thanks for sharing!

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