French Apple Cake Recipe

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If you are looking for a simple dessert that’s easy to bake and delicious, this French Apple Cake is the perfect recipe for you.

This is our version of the classic French apple cake. It looks and tastes just the same, but is much easier to make, especially if it’s your first time. 

Instead of carefully measuring out the flour mixture and other dry ingredients, we’re using a French vanilla cake mix. This speeds things up and means you’ll get a perfect cake every time. 

I love apple dessert recipes, and we have so many recipes that use a variety of apples at Pie Lady Bakes.

Instead of doing the same ol’ apple pie, try this! It’s sure to be one of those apple desserts you keep coming back to!

vertical image of partly eaten slice of french apple cake on white plate green apples and remainder of cake in background

Ingredients

You should find these simple ingredients to make this delicious cake recipe in your local grocery store:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 box Duncan Hines French Vanilla Cake Mix (or other brands is fine too)
  • 3 medium apples (I use whatever I have on hand, but Granny Smith or a variety of tart apples is fine)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • Powdered sugar to sprinkle on the cake after it is baked.
Slice of French apple cake and image of whole French apple cake with text for pinning

How to make French Apple Cake

Follow these simple instructions to make this easy French Apple Cake. See the recipe card below if you need more help.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Prepare your baking pan. I use a regular layer cake pan (9” round) instead of a springform pan.
  3. Grease it well with unsalted butter and line it with a circle of parchment paper and grease the top of that (you can use butter cooking spray too).
  4. Peel, core, and slice up your apples and set them aside.
  5. Melt the unsalted butter in a small bowl.
  6. Sift the cake mix into a medium bowl. 
  7. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk, and add the melted butter, dark rum, and spices. You really don’t need an electric mixer for this recipe.
  8. Stir in the dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix.
  9. Gently fold in the apple slices.
  10. Using a rubber spatula, spread the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top of the batter.
  11. Place the cake on a rack in the middle position of your oven rack for 45 to 55 minutes until it’s golden brown.  Stick a straw in it to test – if it comes out clean, your cake is ready!
  12. Cool the cake on a wire rack.
  13. Place a large plate on top of the cake and flip it over to get it out of the pan. Then repeat this so that you get the lovely rounded top with the cooled apples poking through!
  14. Let the cake cool, and when ready to serve, sprinkle it with confectioners’ sugar or add a scoop of ice cream!
whole french apple cake on white plate with cake server and green apple to the side

Expert French Apple Cake Tips

Follow these expert tips, and your French Apple Cake will be perfect every time.

  • Line your baking pan with a circle of parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, sift the cake mix. This will make the cake batter light and fluffy, and will give your cake a bakery-style quality. See our boxed cake mix hacks for more tips! 
  • Always bake with eggs at room temperature. This makes the eggs fluffy, and makes for better mixing.

How to serve French Apple Cake

When it comes to serving French Apple Cake, you have lots of options! I like mine with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. The combination of warm cake and cold ice cream is heavenly!

If you like to keep things simple, you can just sprinkle them with confectioners’ sugar. If you’re looking for a tangy twist to balance out the sweetness, you could even serve it with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream.

FAQs

Why use vanilla cake mix?

Using a cake mix saves us a bit of time when it comes to measuring out all the dry ingredients, such as the all-purpose flour and raising agents.

Plus, the French vanilla flavor adds a lovely touch of sweetness. It has just the right amount of vanilla extract.

vertical pin image of french apple cake

It’s a delicious shortcut to a fantastic dessert. Trust me, you won’t even miss the traditional method once you’ve tried our way. 

I don’t have spiced rum, will regular rum do?

Sure, it will, and that’s what we use here in this recipe. Some French apple cake recipes call for apple brandy too.

Can I use sweet apples instead of tart apples?

Absolutely. That’s the beauty of apple recipes, you can use your favorite apple or whatever kind of apples are on sale at your grocery store – just look for deals during the apple season. 

Personally, I adore the crispness of Golden Delicious or the tanginess of Granny Smith apples. Just make sure to use fresh apples because that’s what really makes a difference in the final taste and texture.

Can I freeze French apple cake for later?

Yes, you can! I recommend wrapping it in plastic wrap and then wrapping it again in aluminum foil. You could also use an airtight container.

slice of french apple cake on white plate

It should keep for about 3 months this way. Remember to slice it up into smaller sections before freezing, so you can take out a slice at a time.

An apple dessert that’s perfect for brunch

This rustic cake is the best French Apple Cake recipe, and I know it will become your favorite too! It’s one of the easiest cakes I’ve baked in a while.

THANKS SO MUCH for following and being part of the Pie Lady Bakes community! We’re all about sharing easy-to-make vintage recipes that remind us of the ones our moms and grandmas used to make.

If you haven’t already, you can sign up for my weekly e-mail newsletter using this link. It’s absolutely free, and you’ll never miss out on any of my new recipes.

See you soon!

Judy

★★★★★ 

If you’ve made this delicious French Apple Cake, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Be sure to give us a 5 star rating!

★★★★★ 

overhead image of french apple cake with slice cut and ready to serve green apples in background

French Apple Cake Recipe

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Judy Kahansky
A delicious moist cake that easy to make, packes with sweet juicy apples, and flavored with rum and yummy spices.
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Cake Recipes
Cuisine French
Servings 8
Calories 548 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter - to be melted
  • 1 box Duncan Hines French Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 3 medium apples - I use whatever I have on hand, but Granny Smith or a variety of tart apples is fine
  • 2 large eggs - at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • Powdered sugar to sprinkle on the cake after it is baked.

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Prepare your baking pan. I use a regular layer cake pan (9”round) instead of a springform pan
  • Grease it well with unsalted butter and line it with a circle of parchment paper and grease the top of that (you can use butter cooking spray too)
  • Peel, core and slice up your apples and set them aside.
  • Melt the unsalted butter in a small bowl.
  • Sift the cake mix into a medium bowl. 
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk, add the melted butter, dark rum, spices. You really don’t need an electric mixer for this recipe.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients being careful not to over mix.
  • Gently fold in the sliced apples.
  • Using a rubber spatula, spread batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top of the batter.
  • Place the cake on a rack in the middle position of your oven rack for 45 to 55 minutes until it is golden brown and a straw comes out clean.
  • Cool the cake on a wire rack.
  • Place a large plate on top of the cake and invert it to get it out of the pan. Then repeat this so that you get the lovely rounded top with the cooled apples poking through!
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle confectioners’ sugar or add a scoop of ice cream!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 548kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 523mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 65g

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment, star rating or post your photo on Instagram and tag @pieladybakes

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Judy Kahansky is an experienced writer and baker, creating delicious desserts (including pie!) for over 40 years. She loves to take classic and vintage recipes and update them to fit the busy lives of her readers. When not baking, Judy and her husband Mark are passionate golfers, travelers and dog lovers, spending as much time as they can with their sweet pup Millie.