French Apple Cake

This French Apple Cake uses fresh apples and has a custard layer on the bottom and a cake layer on top. It is a moist cake that is perfect for fall!

French Apple Cake

I last posted on this blog in January.  It is now November.  Rather than go on about how busy we’ve been, how quickly time goes by, or list off excuses for my absence, I figured I would just dive right into a recipe.  

French Apple Cake

We got rid of cable quite some time ago, and since then I have had to be creative to still get my fill of the types of shows I used to watch. America’s Test Kitchen is great because it’s on PBS and is similar in nature to the Food Network shows I love.  I saw this French Apple Cake featured on an episode this fall and almost immediately was in the kitchen making it.  

We had leftover apples from the orchard that needed to be used, and I just wasn’t in the mood to make a pie.  We really loved this cake.  Because it’s made with oil instead of butter, it’s more moist than other homemade cakes.  The bottom layer has a custard quality and contains the apples, and the top layer is more cake-like.  

French Apple Cake

The cake is topped with sugar before baking to give it a nice crispy topping, although once you wrap it up the moisture in the cake takes away this crispiness.  I love that this cake is essentially one batter that is separated and then treated differently to create a custard layer and a cake layer.  It just seems simpler than having two batters from the start.  This cake cooks low and slow (1 1/4 hours!) so plan accordingly.

I will say that I have loved having this blog as a way to document not only our favorite recipes but also momentous occasions in our family, and I have missed not having a record of these events in time-stamped format.  Our daughter Ava is turning 2 next month !!! and I really cannot believe it.  Also, we are expecting her baby sister in February and are so excited to see what life as a family of 4 brings!

Gluten Free French Apple Cake

I haven’t tried this myself yet, but I have had good luck using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour in place of all purpose flour in baking.

french apple cake pin

Looking for More Apple Recipes?

Check out my favorite recipes featuring Apples:
Apple Crumble Pizza Pie
Caramel Apple Bars
Apple Cider Doughnuts
Browned Butter Cookies with Apple Cider Caramels
Apple Cider Caramels
Apple Pie Floats
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Caramelized Apple Stuffed Chicken with Fontina and Dried Cherries
New England Sausage and Dried Cranberry Stuffing
Harvest Chicken Salad

French Apple Cake

French Apple Cake

This French Apple Cake uses fresh apples and has a custard layer on the bottom and a cake layer on top. It is a moist cake that is perfect for fall!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Cool Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 8


  • 9-inch springform pan


  • 1 1/2 pounds apples, such as Granny Smith (peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges then sliced 1/8 inch thick crosswise)
  • 1 tablespoon Calvados French apple brandy (substitute another apple brandy, regular brandy, or white rum)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (5 ounces )
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (7 ounces )
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional)


  • Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray.  Place prepared pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  • Place apple slices into a microwave-safe pie plate, cover, and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes.*  Toss apple slices with Calvados and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.
  • Whisk 1 cup flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Whisk egg, oil, milk, and vanilla together in a second bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer 1 cup batter to a separate bowl and set aside (this will become the cake layer).
  • Add the egg yolks to the remaining batter (to create the custard layer) and whisk until just combined. Using spatula, gently fold in cooled apples.
  • Transfer custard/apple batter to prepared pan and, using an offset spatula, spread the batter evenly to the pan edges, gently pressing on the apples to create an even, compact layer, and smooth surface.
  • Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons flour into the reserved batter. Carefully and evenly pour this batter in the pan on top of the custard/apple layer.  Spread the batter evenly to the pan edges and smooth the surface. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly over the cake.
  • Bake until the center of the cake is set, a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the top is golden brown, about 1 1/4 hours.
  • Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run a paring knife around the sides of the pan to dislodge the cake and then let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar if desired, cut into wedges, and serve.  For a nice crisp top, serve the same day without covering the cake. I loosely covered the remaining cake with foil overnight, and the crispness was lost due to the moisture of the cake (it’s still good though!)


Note: ATK recommends covering the dish with plastic wrap and microwaving.  I prefer not to microwave plastic over food,  so I covered my pie plate with waxed paper then topped it with plastic wrap to get a good seal so no moisture would escape.  I suppose chemical could pass through the wax paper, especially if had gotten wet (it didn’t), but it made me feel better to do it this way!
Source: Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
You’re Gonna Bake It After All
Keyword apple, cake, dessert, fall

2 thoughts on “French Apple Cake”

  • don't have a microwave oven could have sauted' them hovever these were apples that needed to be used… anyway my tart leaked from the springform some and well, it is to be brought into work these guys will eat anything!

  • Very disappointed in this America's Test Kitchen recipe. The cake had no real custard base after baking. Did not "rise" either.
    Can't figure this out.

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