French Apple Cake

Please don’t remind me I said this come January, but I’m maybe just a tiny bit sick of Summer. I know. Boos from the balcony and rotten tomatoes thrown at my head. The weather is beyond gorgeous. I love running out the door in nothing but a long dress and a brimmed hat, bathing the baby outside in her tub. It’s idyllic and I’m enjoying it much. But I love the Fall. It’s my very favorite. Crisp air, blazers and boots, wood burning stoves, colored leaves, my birthday and Halloween. The best. I don’t want to rush August out the door, but I am never sorry when we turn the calender to September and there’s that first day of school feeling in my bones. Apples mark the beginning of seasonal change; they are a harbinger of Autumn and all that it entails.

Those methodical smarties at Cook’s Illustrated have worked out all the kinks in this cake, so I didn’t muck with the recipe, much. They made theirs with Calvados, which I couldn’t (be bothered to) find. I did have an inch of Kraken rum leftover from this past weekend’s revelry, and that works just fine. Apples and rum makes for a very adventure on the high seas/plunder and pillage Barbados dessert – yo ho-ho, etc., but do use apple brandy if you’d like. I want to serve this for dessert with small cups of strong coffee spiked with a bit more booze. It would be lovely after a light meal of grilled fish and salad dressed with lemon and olive oil. A great late-Summer treat.

French Apple Cake

French Apple Cake
Adapted from a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated


  • 1 1/2 lbs Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon, for dusting


Step 1: Adjust oven rack to lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil (spray). Place prepared pan on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

Step 2: Place apple slices in a microwave-safe dish, cover and microwave until apples are pliable, about three minutes. Toss apples with lemon juice and rum and let cool whilst you prepare the cake batter.

Step 3: In a large mixing bowl whisk one cup flour, one cup sugar, baking powder, and salt together.

Step 4: In another bowl whisk together egg, oil, milk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients until just combined. Transfer 1 cup of batter to a small bowl.

Step 5: Whisk egg yolks into remaining batter. Gently fold in cooled apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth surface.

Step 6: Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons of flour into the reserved batter then pour over the top of cake. Sprinkle the surface of the cake with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.

Step 7: Bake for one hour and fifteen minutes, until golden brown and set. Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool, five minutes.

Step 8: Run a paring knife around the sides of the pan and remove from form. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack, 2-3 hours. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon.

French Apple Cake

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.


  1. You guys couldn’t have eaten this whole thing…well, I mean, you could have…but I’m hoping there’s some left for me to pick up tomorrow…it looks delicious! Did you put whipped cream on it? Or would that be just too much…
    And ditto on getting rid of August…

  2. Looks great! I love apple cakes. I am definitely not in a hurry for fall, though, it can stay summer forever; I wish it would. Rum is a good substitution for Calvados, but if you ever want to give it a try, Calvados is fantastic and goes great in many baked goods.

  3. I made this and it was much too oily. We could not eat it. It looked and smelled great though and I did have some issues with leaky spring form pan. Big disappointment. Any suggestions?

  4. Dear Disappointed, I am so sorry your dessert was inedible. It definitely has an unexpected texture, almost more of a custard than a cake. It’s a bit weird, but I like it. Mine ran too, which is why I made it on a lined baking sheet. You may prefer our applesauce cupcakes! My apologies.

  5. Hi Jillian, I was just curious to what extent you changed this recipe from the one in Cook’s illustrated. They have a video of the recipe online, too, and your cake turned out thinner and with the apples visible on top, which is different from theirs. Perhaps a result of the leaking springform? I’m thinking of making this for kind of an important event soon, so I’m just looking to avoid any pitfalls. Any advice you have would be much appreciated! Thanks!

  6. I used rum instead of Calvados and 2{3d9e2dd3ff4a6ad7c579f6992fba32c39af0ae46cb1a0bfdb9adec03cc9df88f} milk instead of whole. I don’t know why theirs is thicker and prettier, except that they are Cook’s Illustrated and I’m me, a mediocre baker. I swear, it is delicious, despite its aesthetic shortcomings. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

  7. I tried the Cooks Ill. version and while it does taste good, it was dripping oil. In hind sight, 1cup does seem excessive for the amount of flour. Next time I’m going to try substituting 1/2 cup apple sauce for 1/2 cup of oil. I used Applejack in mine.

  8. Great to see your blog. I am also from away. I am writing because I too made the french apple cake. I made it for 20 people in a much larger pan and scaled it to fit. It was not a spring form so it did not leak. I simply flipped it out onto a big pan then reversed it back to a serving platter after it cooled.
    It was very good but did not have the cake top like it had in Cooks. Although mine had a crispy flaky sugary top that was delicious.
    On this site and others people have said it was oily. Mine was not, it was perfect except for the top.
    I should mention that I used an immersion blender on the liquid part so it was totally emulsified.
    I will make it again soon and will set aside more than a cup of the batter for the top to see if that will help.

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