This French Apple Cake is made from very simple ingredients in just one pan – no mixer required! Layered honeycrisp apples sit atop a beautiful vanilla cake. It’s the perfect recipe to start with if you’re new to baking cakes.
This cake is actually a version of my Strawberry Peach Cake that we made in a cooking class we took while touring the Burgundy region of France. What I love about it is the simplicity. All it requires is one pan, an apple, and a basic mix of ingredients. This allows the flavors of the apple and vanilla to really shine. I remember it being served after we had spent the day making gougères, soufflés, and a whole roasted pork, but to finish with something so elegant and delicious was wonderful.
As I searched around online, I see a lot of recipes with rum, which I don’t believe is necessary at all. I couldn’t find any information on that being the more traditional way to prepare it, but I like this version of the recipe we used in class. Especially for those of us on who have eliminated alcohol.
How to Make
This French Apple Cake is the perfect recipe to start with if you’re new to baking cakes. You don’t need a fancy mixer, just a few bowls and a 9 inch cake pan.
To make sure the cake slides easily out of the pan, we prepare a parchment paper cut out that’s the size of the pan by using a pencil to draw a circle around the outer edge. Then cut the parchment paper to fit the circle into the bottom of your cake pan. This gets coated in butter, along with the sides, and then sprinkled with a little bit of flour. You’ll want to dump out the excess flour and just use enough to coat around the bottom and all sides.
Some tips on ingredients:
- I used honeycrisp apples because they’re so lovely for fall and the perfect amount of sweetness.
- For flour, I used Gold Medal
- For mascarpone, I used Vermont Creamery and for butter I used Kerrygold unsalted.
- Since it’s the fall season, I sprinkled with a little bit of cinnamon sugar on top. I usually do powdered sugar, but it was a nice way to make it a little more seasonal.
Dairy and Gluten Free Options
A few of my readers have made this cake gluten free by using Bob Red Mill’s 1:1 baking flour as a substitute and they all say it turns out great.
One of our cooking class attendees even made this dairy free by substituting vegetable oil for the butter, leaving out the mascarpone cheese, using Oatly oat milk for the milk, and even substituting the sugar for honey. I was shocked to hear it worked out splendidly. So just so you know, these are some edits others have tried that have worked!
Other Favorite Desserts
If you’re looking for more favorite desserts like this French Apple Cake, check out these recipes. If you make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me #thedizzycook or @thedizzycook on Facebook and Instagram. And please leave a review below!
This simple French apple cake uses fresh apples and a simple vanilla cake base for the most beautiful, easy dessert.
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour *If gluten free, use 1:1 baking flour
- 1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large honeycrisp apple, peeled
- Optional: powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare your 9 inch cake pan by lightly greasing it all over (I use the butter wrapper), and placing a parchment round inside at the bottom. Take a small spoonful of flour and shake the pan around to thoroughly coat the inside. Dump out any excess flour and set aside.
In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the mascarpone cheese and milk until combined. In a large bowl, mixed softened butter until light and creamy (you can do this by hand or with a mixer). Add the granulated cane sugar and mix until thoroughly combined. Then add 1 large egg and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extra - I mix this in by hand with a spatula until well combined and smooth.
Alternating flour mixture and milk/mascarpone mixture, add them in small increments, stirring after each addition until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, tapping it a few times on your counter to get it smooth and level.
Thinly slice the peeled apple into half moon pieces, leaving out the core. Place sliced apples in a layered pattern on top of the cake batter, then slide extra apples in between each slice. Make sure the fruit doesn't touch the side of the pan. Sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar (if using).
Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake should be a lovely golden brown on top. Allow it to cool at least 30 minutes then slide a knife along the sides of the pan. The cake should release easily. Place it on a serving platter and serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving, if desired.
- For cinnamon sugar, mix 1 tablespoon of white sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
- I suggest Bob's Red Mill 1:1 flour for gluten free. For dairy free, see post for adjustments others have used.