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Sep 27, 2018

French Apple Cake

This French Apple cake is layered with a custardy apple-filled base, a thin layer of cake, and a crispy sugary crust on top.

This post is sponsored in conjunction with AppleWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the AppleWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

French Apple Cake

To create the layers in this French apple cake, you make one batter and then divide it, adding more egg yolks to one part to make it custardy, and more flour to the other part, to make it more cake-like.

You mix the custardy batter with the apples, layer it in the cake pan, and then top it with the cake batter.

You sprinkle the top of the cake with a tablespoon of granulated sugar, which results in a thin, crispy top. To ensure that the cake cooks thoroughly without coming out soggy, you bake it at 325 degrees F on a lower rack in the oven to make sure that the cake is cooked through before the top browns too much.

French Apple Custard Cake
This cake is best when served at room temperature about 3 hours after it is baked. You can still make it ahead and it will be very tasty the next day. You just won't have quite the crispy sugar top because the moisture from the apples will soften it a bit.

This cake would be a great change up instead of an apple pie at Thanksgiving. You will love the creamy and rich custard surrounding the apples.

One of the secret ingredients in this cake is a tablespoon of apple brandy. I used an American apple brandy (which I also used for this cocktail), but if you want to be truly authentic, get a bottle of Calvados.

To achieve tender apples that still hold their shape, you actually microwave the apple slices for about 3 minutes.

Our taste testers loved this cake, both freshly sliced, as well as straight from the fridge the next day. To make it prettier, be sure to dust it with some powdered sugar (something I totally forget to do).

For a more casual French Apple Cake, be sure to try a loaf version with raisins and rum

French Apple Custard Cake Recipe

One of our Apple Week sponsors, Imperial Sugar, sent me a case of granulated sugar and brown sugar. Score!! Imperial Sugar is a 175 year old company, and their products are available only in the South, so it's a real treat to have some in my kitchen.

They are giving away 20 bags of granulated sugar and 12 bags of brown sugar (as well as a baking mat and apron) for Apple Week. If you love baking, you definitely need to enter the drawing to win.

How do I win?

Just visit this post, scroll down, and enter the drawing. There are 55 chances to win! 

Welcome to Day Five of Apple Week, a virtual extravaganza of recipes that include apples. After the recipe, be sure to check out the list of recipes, both sweet and savory, that include apples.

cake, apples, French
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

French Apple Cake


  • 1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith or other tart green apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 slices vertically, and then sliced into 1/8 inch thick slices crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon apple brandy
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar


  1. Heat your oven to 325 degrees F with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Spray a 9 inch springform pan with spray oil and place it on a half sheet pan that has been lined with foil. 
  2. Place the apple sliced into a glass pie plate and cover with an upside down microwave safe dinner plate. Microwave for about 3 minutes, until the apples are softened. Add the apple brandy and lemon juice to the apples and mix. Set aside for about 15 minutes. 
  3. In a medium bowl, add 1 cup of the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, baking powder, and salt and whisk. 
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the egg, oil, milk, and vanilla until well combined. Add the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer a cup of the batter to another bowl and set aside. 
  5. Whisk the egg yolks into the original batter. Fold in the apples, and transfer to the springform pan and evenly smooth the top, pressing it down gently. 
  6. Add 2 tablespoons of flour to the reserved cup of batter and whisk. Pour this batter over the top of the apple mixture. Smooth evenly to the edge of the pan. Sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar. 
  7. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours, until the center of the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean. 
  8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely for 2 to 3 hours. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar before slicing and serving. 
  9. Refrigerate leftovers. 
Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated magazine, September/October 2012.

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Looks delish..!! What do you think about substituting apple juice/cider for the apple brandy? Thanks.

    1. I think that apple cider would be fine, and an apple cider concentrate would be even better.

  2. Sounds amazing! So this must have 2 different textures, which makes it different and interesting! Definitely a must-try dear Karen!
    We also found interesting that no cinnamon/cloves/nutmeg was used in this recipe.
    Looking fwd to making this!
    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks so much. Yes, no "apple pie" flavors.

  3. Will be making this cake! It looks and sounds so delicious. I don't want to have to go out and buy brandy could I use apple juice? Thanks again for the wonderful recipes.

    1. I think that would be fine. I would boil it to reduce it by half for more flavor.


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