French Apple Cake


It’s interesting that there are so many views of Paris, which you notice if you follow the variety of voices that write about life in the city. I tend to find all the quirks and report on the sardonic side of things, which for some reason, always find their way into my life. But the main reason is that I live here full-time and deal with not just sampling my way through the lovely pastry shops and meeting chocolatiers, but also spend a fair amount of time wresting with perplexing bureaucracy and other idioms of life in the City of Fight Light.

For example, last week I went to the largest fabric store in Paris where I always buy étamine (cotton gauze), which I couldn’t locate so I asked a salesperson. He was having a nice chat with his co-workers but was kind enough to take a moment to tell me “Non”, they didn’t carry it, and went back to his conversation. After I raised an eyebrow and asked a few more times just be sure, he and all the others in the group shook their heads, confirming with absolute certainty that they definitely did not have that in stock.

Because I was absolutely certain that they did, I went down one level and, of course, found a huge bolt of it right on top of the pile of other rolls of fabric.

eggs and peels

So to keep things in perspective (as best I can…) I like to read other voices from Paris, such as Dorie Greenspan, whose latest book, Around My French Table, is a massive collection of her favorite recipes and stories about our shared city. She lives on the opposite side of Paris, in a different neighborhood. And where I am often hardened and resigned, and sometimes cry in private, she manages to see the good in everything and is always happy and beaming.

Although I do sometimes get the last word in around here: When I did find the étamine and mentioned to the salesclerk I was going to make Apple Jelly with it, he told me that if he sold it to me, I had to bring him an échantillon (sample).

Fortunately painted on the walls of the fabric store, in very large block letters, were the words “Pas d’échantillons!” (“No samples!”) which I pointed out to him—and we both had a good laugh. Me more than him.

This is a very typique recipe of Dorie’s: not a lot of ingredients, relying on no special techniques or hard-to-find equipment (like, say…regular cotton muslin in an enormous six-story fabric store), but producing simply spectacular results. The cake is easily mixed up in a bowl, scraped into a cake pan, and in less than the time it takes to run to the pâtisserie for a store-bought cake—or a seemingly simple length of fabric—you can have an authentic French cake right from your own oven.

apple cake pan

It takes a lot of moxie and pluck to get workable recipes out of French cooks and chefs. It’s not that they don’t work, it’s just that often they’ll just cook things au pif, or “by the nose”, adding a little of that and not measuring. I’ve had my share of experiences trying to extract recipes out of cooks here and often they just say, “Just tell readers to add however much flour it takes until it forms the right batter.” And I know how much you’d all love that…

Dorie Greenspan seems to have a gift for making those recipes work for home cooks, especially those in America who don’t gave the same batterie de cuisine that a French cook might have. But as you’ll see if you flip through the recipes in Around My French Table, everyday French cooking doesn’t depend on fancy equipment and most dishes aren’t meant to be followed to the letter, but are actually quite forgiving. They’re authentic but approachable. And the next recipe on my plate is Coeur à la crème, so I can use my vintage molds and line them with my precious new étamine that I worked so very (very) hard to get.

creme fraiche

Dorie was kind enough to thank me for sharing her table with her in the book. And when a journalist interviewed me for an article about her, she ended the interview with; “So David, what is it like to sit around Dorie’s French table?”

I sat there for a few moments scratching my head to remember, then not sure of what to say, I finally replied, “I’ve not sat around Dorie’s French table.” Which was true. When she comes to Paris, we generally go out exploring. The idea of sitting indoors while Paris awaits just isn’t as interesting to me as sharing pastries on a park bench or hitting an outdoor market with her.

If you want to sit at Dorie’s table, the line starts here. However while you wait, you can feast on her recipes, just like I’m doing.

dorie's apple cake

French Apple Cake
One 9-inch (23 cm) cake

Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Dorie doesn’t specify any type of apple but instead advises that you should use a mix of them. I don’t know what kind mine were since I’d picked them myself (they’re pictured at the top). The rum is really vital for the taste, and the cake would be not as interesting without it. If you’re avoiding alcohol, you could double to triple up on the vanilla to compensate.

I also like this recipe because you can make it with ingredients easily on hand. Being American, I was tempted to add a dusting of ground cinnamon to the apples, but then it wouldn’t be authentically French. Hence I decided a dollop of crème fraîche alongside to be rather nice.

  • 3/4 cup (110g) flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples (a mix of varieties)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (115g) butter, salted or unsalted, melted and cooled to room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.

2. Heavily butter an 8- or 9-inch (20-23cm) springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Peel and core the apples, then dice them into 1-inch (3cm) pieces.

5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy then whisk in the sugar, then rum and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter

6. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter.

7. Fold in the apple cubes until they’re well-coated with the batter and scrape them into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top a little with a spatula.

8. Bake the cake for 50 minute to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no apples are stuck to it.

Serving: Serve wedges of the cake just by itself, or with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.

Storage: The cake will keep for up to three days covered. Since the top is very moist, it’s best to store it under a cake dome or overturned bowl.

Related Posts and Recipes

Sauce Gribiche, Au Pif

Tuesdays with Dorie


French Tart Dough

American Baking Ingredients in Paris

Apple Spice Cake


Apple Jelly

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  • November 15, 2010 12:58pm

    well, for me you were the one ” And where I am often hardened and resigned, and sometimes cry in private, she manages to see the good in everything and is always happy and beaming” admit it David finally they got you as well:))

  • November 15, 2010 1:00pm

    my neigbourgh gave me a full basket of apple afterall they are that bad:) i should try this delicously recipe thanks…

  • November 15, 2010 1:02pm

    Ah, the elusive étamine. I still have a heck of a time finding it down here.

    This recipe just might be replacing my favorite French Apple Cake recipe. It looks amazing and so simple! I love that.

  • November 15, 2010 1:22pm

    I never would’ve thought broken eggshells and apple peels could look so beautiful. Then again, I never would’ve thought I could eat an entire jar of peanut butter in two days with naught but a spoon.

    I guess you learn something new every day.

  • November 15, 2010 1:26pm

    I have tried this recipe from Dorie’s book and it is marvelous! I used tart apples which seemed perfect against the sweet batter. And I couldn’t help myself and added cinnamon to the recipe. Still turned out well!

  • November 15, 2010 1:28pm

    This apple cake is going to go on my Thanksgiving list. I have been looking for a tried and true recipe. It looks delicious.

  • November 15, 2010 1:45pm

    I would like to try such delicious looking apple cake..

    have a nice time,

  • November 15, 2010 1:55pm

    It takes all sorts and we love you because you’re sardonic ^_^ Great cake rack you have there, I have kitchen envy.

  • November 15, 2010 1:59pm

    We have got to get our hands on this book…all the recipes look fabulous. And this apple cake looks just delicious…perfect for Thanksgiving!

  • November 15, 2010 2:09pm

    Goodness, that creme fraiche looks like pudding, how rich. As always, I love your take on a Parisian life. I can’t wait to get my hands on Dorie’s cookbook. Thanks for sharing … and hope you find your way to Dorie’s table soon. ;)

  • November 15, 2010 2:44pm

    I remember reading in Julia Child’s “From Julia Child’s Kitchen” that she had to buy cotton gauze at the apothecary because the French grocery stores did not sell cheesecloth. Of course, I read this back in DC, where I could smile about those strange Europeans, but then I moved to Vienna and that passage in Julia’s book came back to haunt me: No cheesecloth in Vienna’s grocery stores! I am still buying cotton gauze at the “Apotheke”. ;-)

  • November 15, 2010 2:52pm

    I am looking forward to your Coeur à la crème story!
    I got my Coeur à la crème mold in DC at the Williams Sonoma store. After moving to Vienna, I decided it was the right moment to get a second mold. Well, I have been to every kitchen store in town and their employees all looked at me as if were asking for moon babies! Thanks goodness, there is that Big A on the web, where I was able to mail order a French mold from the States. ;-)

  • November 15, 2010 3:00pm

    I relate totally to your customer service dealings here in Europe. It gets to the point where you get used to it but the luxury of great customer service is a still a memory painfully brought back on trips back home. I love the opening of your book when you knew that you had become Parisian when you got dressed to take the trash out. I find myself thinking about this every time I take the trash out in Torino. Needless to say say, I don’t think I have become Italian quite yet.

  • AJ
    November 15, 2010 3:00pm

    This was the first recipe I made from Dorie’s book and it was the perfect way to usher in autumn and apple season in my house. And I completely agree with you about the rum.

  • November 15, 2010 3:03pm

    I was just checking out Chez Pim’s new Dinner @ 8 feature – Dorie Greenspan’s French Apple cake’s what for dessert. I’m going to have to try it now. It looks delicious! And, we just moved to an apartment with an oven!

    And since we are talking about fabric stores, I was recently at Marche Saint Pierre trying to buy some fabric (not étamine) and it was definitely an interesting experience. Just saying…

  • Supriya
    November 15, 2010 3:08pm

    looks lovely and moist! one silly ques: what kind of sugar have you used for this? will unrefined palm sugar work? thanks.

  • November 15, 2010 3:15pm
    David Lebovitz

    Italian Postcards: What was interesting was the week before, I’d gone into the BHV dept store (not known for being a bastion of customer service) for étamine and the salesgirl who was helping me was incredibly friendly and helpful. She even took me over to the remnants area when I panicked because the fabric price was 600% more than the Marché St-Pierre store. (She agreed.)

    I did end up buying some there because, as you know, sometimes you just need to hand over some money and call it a day. But at least you leave with what you came for, and your sanity intact.

    Supriya: Unless indicated otherwise, sugar is baking recipes is generally white granulated sugar (cane or beet.) I considered trying it with raw cane sugar next time, but if you do try it with another sugar, I’d be interested in hearing how it turns out.

    AJ: I know, I was going to try it without and when I realized it, I understood how important it was. But for people avoiding alcohol, they’d probably want to adjust the vanilla or add something else to compensate.

    Chez loulou: Next time you’re in Paris, you should pick some up! And I can tell you exactly where it is in that store now, too…

  • November 15, 2010 3:29pm

    I have been told “go back to grade school” in a cigar shop in Monmartre because my French was less than perfect, and in the same day, a nice French couple treated me to my tarte tatin at Les Deux Magots because I started a conversation with them to practice my French and they their English. Being an ex-pat is the experience of a lifetime, fraught with joy, trials and tribulations. But ultimately, if it brings me closer to tarte tatin, I’m in :) Love this cake, and I hope my stocking gets stuff with Dorie’s cookbook for Christmas!!

  • Val
    November 15, 2010 4:03pm

    I’ve been collecting apples in the refrigerator, this seems like the perfect way to thin out my collection. What do you think of using bourbon instead of rum?

  • November 15, 2010 4:28pm

    I, too, just made a version of this cake – but with thinly sliced pears and a handful of bittersweet chocolate thrown in. I love the top photo of the apples you picked! My pears, which were from a friend’s tree, may not have been beautiful to look at, but they were delicious to eat in this cake.

  • Renee
    November 15, 2010 4:40pm

    @Val: Adam just made this recipe too, using bourbon, and said “it worked great!” ;o)

  • November 15, 2010 6:00pm

    I actually made this recipe from Dorie’s book and it is fantastic! The small bit of rum brings out the most amazing flavor. It is twice as good the next day.

  • November 15, 2010 6:22pm

    Sounds like a wonderful use for all the apples I get from the CSA all winter long. I’d like to give it a try with calvados in place of the rum…

  • November 15, 2010 6:25pm

    I have her book and I really like it. Maybe I should give this apple cake a go…

  • witloof
    November 15, 2010 7:20pm

    If it’s any consolation, I have that same experience in NYC quite often. Just last week I wanted a toy in Kmart that the website had listed in stock. A salesman assured me that the website was wrong and that they definitely did not even carry the item in question. I asked him where it would be if they did have it. He reassured me that they definitely didn’t have it but told me where the section was located, and sure enough, two seconds later, I found a huge stack of them.

    That looks like a yummy cake. If I ever get tired of Dorie’s tart tatin, I’ll have to try it!

  • November 15, 2010 7:24pm

    This French Apple Cake looks absolutely delicious!


  • Fix Your ITunes
    November 15, 2010 7:35pm

    Luckily I’ll be visiting Paris again next month and then back again in January. I hope to take some great photos like you do on this blog. These photos are amazing and every time I come back to this blog it makes me want to go back to Paris all over again. It’s been almost 2 years now that I’ve been to Paris and I hope to get my fill of it until the next time and I hope it wont be 2 years until I go back!

  • November 15, 2010 7:51pm

    I am a big fan of Dorie’s baking and can’t wait to read this latest book of hers.

    This cake looks delicious and I am also looking forward to making it. I would have omitted the rum but won’t based on your suggestion regarding its importance in this recipe. Thank you!

  • November 15, 2010 7:52pm

    I just got her cookbook and I absolutely love it. It is littered with post-its marking all the recipes I plan to do and this is one of them! I wonder if you can substitute the apples for another fruit, I have some persimmons and pears that need a purpose!

  • November 15, 2010 8:39pm

    this apple cake looks scrumptious!

  • Janet
    November 15, 2010 9:21pm

    I made this cake last week and it’s really delicious, especially served when still warm. It was also great at room temperature next day with coffee. I wondered how the big apple chunks would bake, but they did just fine, and added to the rustic texture. It reminds me of an apple clafouti in taste and texture. This has to be one of the easiest cakes to put together – I’ll make this again and again. Thanks for your funny, informative and addictive blog!

  • November 15, 2010 9:33pm

    Wow, I’m flabbergasted. You even make eggshells look good, and the cake itself…just Wow!

  • November 15, 2010 9:35pm

    I love, love, love that apple pic. Wonder if nature did that or if they were artlessly arranged by human hands? Also, loved the details of the interaction at the store. I’m convinced that they move stuff around in my store so I can’t find it. (Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, I’m expecting to start playing the find-the-stuffing game again,soon.) Someone else in France just commented on my post saying they shuffle the stuff in French stores, too–so customers will have to wander around & in the process by more things. Makes perfect sense!

  • Janice
    November 15, 2010 10:41pm

    I’ve made the Spiced Apple Cake from your post last November (from Maria Helm Sinsky) many times and look forward to making the French Apple Cake. I may try sauteing the apples in butter an sugar, as in the Spiced Apple Cake. Your stories of French quirks and attitudes are the best! I have American friends who have lived in Paris for 20+ years now have retained their sanity through french wine, food, and art.

  • November 15, 2010 10:59pm
    David Lebovitz

    Nancy: Those are just how they were. I had them in crates on my roof and those were the last of ’em.

    witloof: I always say, “In America, people say they want to help you, but they really don’t.” (It’s like when you get those people on the phone that are trying to help you but they don’t know what they’re talking about. The good thing about the French is that when they want to help you, the service is amazing. It’s just a struggle sometimes to get there…

    The Food Hound: It’s funny how in one instant, you can have an experience where people here are so helpful and wonderful, and charming, and in the next, you get astonished by how brusque someone can be.

  • November 15, 2010 11:42pm

    Thanks so much for all the sweetness and so happy you liked the apple cake. Once I finally got the cake figured out, I didn’t stop making it until apple season was over — it’s become my fall-back cake for fall.

    I’ll be in Paris next month and I’ll save a place at the table for you — but I also want to stroll around town and nibble pastries here and there because, as you said, that’s the most fun.

  • Amy
    November 15, 2010 11:51pm

    This was amazing- my one-year-old nephew loved it, too. :) Thanks!

  • November 16, 2010 12:00am

    The thought of you and Dorie strolling through Paris together makes me happy (and jealous). I must try this cake and finally order the book.

  • November 16, 2010 12:01am

    you know what killed me? how yellow and rich that creme fraiche looks. ours is a very anemic looking cousin. so sad. i miss the french kind.

  • clbtx
    November 16, 2010 12:23am

    Damn. I’ve been a faithful fan of Clotilde’s apple “Gateau de Mamy.” I make it as often as I think the calorie fairies will allow. Now you’ve gone and presented this cake and I feel like I might cheat on Clotilde and try this one instead! Please don’t tell her if I do! I really do love her – and her cake! :-)

    And, I really really really need to get Dorie’s book!

  • November 16, 2010 1:33am

    i really love your blog so much. i promise i’ll be forever faithful.

  • November 16, 2010 2:23am

    That cake looks beautiful! Aren’t apples the best?
    I love your descriptions and stories of Paris. I want to go so badly.

  • Cris
    November 16, 2010 2:32am

    I read this in the morning and when we got home from a long day, it sounded just perfect for dinner. My seven year old loved peeling the apples and putting it together, and she’s on her second piece right now (a big hallelujah for the picky eater). Thank you for the perfect inspiration at the perfect time.

    We didn’t have rum, so I added some more vanilla and also swapped in 1/4 cup brown sugar for part of the regular sugar. I liked the depth of flavor. Thank you – and Dorie – again!

  • june2
    November 16, 2010 2:36am

    I love the conversational tidbits we get when you paraphrase advice like: “Just tell readers to add however much flour it takes until it forms the right batter.” These are very useful tips for people who have never learned to think along these lines and I always take note when I see them sprinkled in your posts. Thanks!

  • November 16, 2010 3:26am

    Having lived in France as a student I so remember those bizarre situations. I love that you describe cooking au pif too. I really look forward to trying this one with some delicious apples from our Farmers’ Market here in NJ.

  • November 16, 2010 4:00am

    Fun post – my experience in 90% hit and 10% miss with customer service in Europe and I always use my awful French and 90% of the time it elicits smiles (and an English answer). I shall bake the cake because I cannot resist an apple cake and the book won’t appear in my home until the holidays (if my family follows my instructions). And have the family hide the cinnamon. And trust.

    Oh and customer service these days in America? Fuggedaboutit.

  • Terry Slocum
    November 16, 2010 4:00am

    Is your spring form pan pretty leak-proof? I haven’t seen any with that nifty red latch, and am always searching for a pan with fewer leaks. And yes, the cake is so very good, and so quick and easy.

  • November 16, 2010 4:00am

    I made Dorie’s Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good this weekend from the new cookbook and it was delicious. I can’t wait to try this apple cake recipe!! Thanks for bringing Paris to me since I can’t go to her! You are too funny.

  • BarbF
    November 16, 2010 4:02am

    That cake looks positively deeelicious (& that fact that it’s simple makes it all the more appealing)! I’m hitting the Tuesday Ferry Bldg farmer’s market tomorrow to buy my “mix of apples” from the apple guy there — he has some great heirloom varieties & they are tasty as all get out. I will bake that cake tomorrow night & report back!

  • BarbF
    November 16, 2010 4:03am

    I notice we don’t have to say you live in Paris in order to comment anymore …

  • linda
    November 16, 2010 4:18am

    beautiful & very generous post…
    i just met dorie @ a recent signing…& her passion & energy (as you so beautifully wrote) was totally evident!
    omg: love your vintage molds!

  • Lien
    November 16, 2010 4:18am

    Thanks David, this looks so yummy, i have to try it soon …

  • Tricia
    November 16, 2010 4:21am

    Just had to send a big “thank you” for another wonderful post. I hope you know how many folks are out here enjoying your wonderful insights, talents and sense of humor. My mom and I just starting cooking along to your friend Dorie’s namesake blog- French Fridays with Dorie and we made this cake. My mom also did the swiss chard tart of yours and posted those results too- people commented that their mouths were watering ;0

    You have two devoted fans of “two certain ages” in the Philadelphia suburbs who look forward to every one of your posts. They also help us relive wonderful memories of trips to Paris and plan future ones. Thank you so very much —-

  • Bob Y
    November 16, 2010 4:29am

    If one wanted to add the cinammon and make the cake unfrench bien sur , how much cinammon would you recommend, and at what point you would add it. Thanks in advance.

  • November 16, 2010 4:38am

    Let me just remind you that it is not just the French sales people who are too often overly sure of them selves. Honestly, I am jealous that you get to interact with the ill mannered in Paris as opposed to Pennsylvania. Tomorrow I will be making this apple cake for quests. Gorgeous.

  • November 16, 2010 4:44am

    Wow, could I make any more embarrassing spelling mistakes.

  • November 16, 2010 5:27am

    So glad I have the day off work… So glad I have apples and rum in pantry… So glad I have a French apple cake baking in my oven right now for afternoon tea :)

  • November 16, 2010 5:28am

    So funny–I started reading Dorie’s book just this afternoon, but I’m only to page 237 and haven’t yet made it to the desserts. What a delight to read your post, David, this will be the first recipe from the cookbook that I’ll make, but definitely not the last. What a treasure trove!

  • November 16, 2010 5:58am

    Reading your posts is always such a treat. I had the pleasure of meeting Dorie in San Francisco last month and was immediately struck by the honest joy that emanates from her. What a lovely, simple recipes this is – one that is sure to find a spot on my table.

  • Dawn
    November 16, 2010 6:08am

    I saw this posting and knew I would make it to use up the Macintosh apples that have been sitting in my kitchen for a week. I made it as soon as I got home and its everything I hoped for and more! My boyfriend (notoriously picky about treats) loves it, and I love it – it reminds me of the summer I lived in Paris and wandered the streets of the 5eme, eating my way through the city. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Dorie’s book!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • November 16, 2010 6:08am

    This recipe was featured in our local newspaper, the Oregonian, a couple of weeks ago, and I tried it using some heirloom apples (Liberty, Belle de Boskoop, Cortland and Hudson’s Golden Gem). I have an apple peeler/corer/slicer which makes quick work of the job and produces nice even thin slices that form lovely layers in the pan. This cake was so yummy that I made it twice already. Whatever you do, don’t omit the rum!
    Speaking of heirloom apples, when I was at the Auteuil Market on a Saturday last February, the apple vendor had these amazing apples he called “patte de loup.” They were squat, round, crunchy, sweet and nutty, with yellow russeted skin that had what looked like deep scars slashed across it–as if it had been clawed by a wolf! So ugly, it’d never sell in the US, but delicious (with a really cool name, too!)

  • Linda H
    November 16, 2010 6:11am

    Do you ever wonder (I do) if a rude person gets to the end of his day, reflects on the rudeness, and is proud of himself? “Wow, I was really nasty to that guy. I’m fabulous!”
    I love apple cakes, and this one is getting a try for Thanksgiving. My dad has announced that pecan pie is too difficult to eat. May I never get THAT old! So it will be Dorie’s apple cake.

  • November 16, 2010 6:20am

    Just finished polishing off a good quarter of this cake–Sooo light and delicious! I used tart granny smith apples freshly picked from the backyard. :) Topped it with freshly whipped cream with a bit of brown sugar mixed in and a dusting of cinnamon over the top. Delicious recipe!

  • arlene of va
    November 16, 2010 6:53am

    I recall visiting the same fabric store in 2008 for the first time and spent 3 hours just choosing and buying fabrics on a weekday afternoon. I was impressed with the variety and quality of the merchandise. However, I was disappointed with the lack of efficiency in finding someone to assist you with the whole process of selection and payment. First, you had to find an available service representative to help you cut the fabric on the spot and write the ticket. I made the mistake of letting the first sales rep. leave me while I decided on fabric because it took a long time to find another one available. I also spoke very little French but enough to specify the meters I needed. Then you had to line up to pay. I didn’t think you were allowed to bring the fabric bolt to the cashier and get it cut there. You also can’t consolidate your purchases from other floors. I would still go back there because the fabric selections are just beautiful. However, if you plan to bring it back to the US, it’s best to fly out of Paris instead of lugging heavy fabrics on the train to Avignon and flying out of Nice like I did.

    About the cake – I will try baking your French apple cake this week while apples are in season. It looks great! Thanks!

  • Lauren
    November 16, 2010 7:01am

    With grateful thanks to you (and Dorie), I’m changing one of my Thanksgiving desserts to this apple cake. I know you said the rum is “vital” but I think I’ll substitute Calvados for the rum – even *more* French, yes? Plus, it’ll reinforce the apple nicely. If it’s not great then I’ll go back to the rum. I also think I’ll replace a 1/4 of the sugar with brown sugar. I have a bad habit of tweaking things that are already great.

  • November 16, 2010 7:13am
    David Lebovitz

    Bobbie: I didn’t know you could get Boskoop apples in the states. I love those for eating…they’re my favorite apple in France.

    BarbF: That was a measure to decrease spam comments, since I didn’t think that readers were all that interested in increasing their bust size, online casinos, or pills guaranteed to make men “poke her eye out” with our you-know-whats. There’s a new system in place now that filters much of that out.

    arlene of Va: Actually, when I moved to Paris several years ago, I went there looking for light-blocking fabric for bedroom curtains. The fellow was so unhelpful that I actually said to him, “I hope one day, if you ever move to a foreign country, that you don’t come across people that are so unhelpful, too.” That said, I have been there and had decent service. (And as I noted above, when I was at the BHV right before, the salesgirl could not have been nicer and more helpful.) But it’s like most places in France; the service isn’t always included—sometimes you kind of have to work to get it.

    Linda H: Whenever I meet people who are crummy in general, I always wonder what the rest of their lives are like..Do they have friends? Do they interact with them like that?

    It’s kind of a game in France not to give out information, unless you merit it. And there was a pretty interesting poll I just read that revealed that 41% of the people in France think that if you’re nice, you come off as an imbecile.

  • November 16, 2010 7:17am

    I. Would. Be. Fuming. Grrr lol. Those apples are just like the ones I had growing..not the pretty store bought kind.

    love apple cake…and well since its French it must be better right? *wink*

  • Carol in paris
    November 16, 2010 7:57am

    Great read today & this cake will be on our Thanksgiving menu (we are giving thanks for living in Paris). As much as I enjoy your posts I sometimes think we live in different cities in one big respect at least—my husband and I have never had (I swear) an unpleasant or unhelpful encounter with the people here. Usually quite the opposite. I do agree about the difficulty of finding cheesecloth and bring mine back from usa visits. Now i know where to go here.
    PS must get the Greenspan book now

  • Carine
    November 16, 2010 8:15am

    I think one variety of your apples is reinette grise du Canada (I don’t know the English name). Thanks for the recipe.

  • Wendy
    November 16, 2010 8:16am

    You’re the best, David.

    A big thank you to YOU because I learn so much when I read your posts e.g. addresses of cool places to shop, eat and visit, great books to buy and of course, great recipes. That’s why I say you’re the best. Would love to meet you one day.

  • Carine
    November 16, 2010 8:19am
  • Abigail
    November 16, 2010 9:05am

    I can totally sympathise with your dealings with Paris natives, I live on a small island off the coast of Brittany and I can tell you the people here would give Parisians a run for their money in terms of being downright difficult. there have been so many times when I feel like literally bashing my head against a wall after yet another Monty Pythonesque encounter with french bureaucracy/obstinacy/ridiculousness.

    They need to take a ‘billet aller simple’ to Australia and check out how easy life can be if you let it!!

    Bon courage as they say…. at least we have the sea to look at and lots of nice fishy things to eat..and you have all those gorgeous shops and patisseries and walks by the Seine….

  • November 16, 2010 9:20am
    David Lebovitz

    Abigail: When I came home from the store, and told Romain the story he said, “C’est typique.” I think the French are just used to it more than we are, although it does drive them crazy, too.

    I just had one of those meetings this week at the prefecture (city hall) that wasn’t going so well, and the person talking to me contradicted themself within the same sentence. I was just sitting there, mouth slightly agape, baffled that they didn’t think that was strange. The problem is, when you point it out, you get the shrug and there’s not much you can do about it.

    Carol: I assume you don’t have Numericable as your cable provider. Those people are evil.

  • DaveMx
    November 16, 2010 9:59am

    Just tasted mine, came out perfectly!
    Cake is incredibly light and crust incredibly crunchy. Overall apple flavor is so pure and delicious (yep, hold that cinnamon!!)
    A new favorite!

  • Suzie Stein
    November 16, 2010 10:59am

    Hi David,

    As always on your blog, a delicious sounding recipe. When you put flour, do you always mean plain flour not self raising ?

    Yes, Flour is always regular, all-purpose flour, unless otherwise indicated. -dl

  • November 16, 2010 11:44am

    Ever since you wrote about Paris’ “crippling bureaucracy” I ripped up any plans for a visa. Actually the sad lack of decent inexpensive copy shops open on the weekends and the TOTAL lack of tracing pads in Paris,made me decide long ago I could NOT live there.
    If I dare to mention anything untoward about Paris (even the weather) on my blog, there are crippling consequences I don’t want to think about…
    You, David are the only one who can tell it like it is and I’m glad someone out there can do it.

  • November 16, 2010 11:56am

    I would have been soooo tempted to go back upstairs and sashay around with the gauze wrapped as a stole and say
    “Hello Darlings! Open yr big eyes”
    I wonder…if you dressed permanently in a Bragard chef jacket,wouldn’t people be kinder?
    Everyone on the planet seems to love chefs…
    If only there were a ‘bakery’ aroma perf you could spritz yourself with as well, particularly for those town city visits….miam-miam

  • November 16, 2010 12:12pm

    I am continually amazed by you – mostly because I was coming to think you were English, God only knows why – it must be your sense of humour, your ever so slight excentricy, or that you can laugh about yourself… :)
    Secondly, I am always tempted to add a dash of cinnamon and I truly didn’t know that this is an American habit… I always thought it was just me who loves the slight Christmassy taste of it in my sweets, lol
    Oh I know all about the bureaucracy of France too…. I even had to write that word in French on a post-it and stuck it next to the phone and another one to my computer…. it’s such a vital word in the French Daily Life!!!!
    Delicious post, like every one before – still waiting to find time to read all the comments too….. maybe in another life?
    The apples: Reinettes? Maybe some small Boscops? In any case, the slightly sharp tasting sorts which are the best for baking -… need to stop, my mouth is watering over the keyboard (again….)

  • November 16, 2010 12:47pm

    Beautiful cake, and lovely cooling rack! Where is that from?
    I will be making this cake this week to serve to my friend from Alsace! She is a fabulous baker (probably all the butter) and we will feast while the rain falls in Rome and our baby boys frolic around the apartment. Cheers from Rome.

  • adrian
    November 16, 2010 1:13pm

    “Pas échantillons!” – I had a good laugh as well. Thanks, David! And that picture of your apples is so good I can almost taste them.

  • November 16, 2010 2:05pm

    What a lovely and simple recipe. (Thank you, David & Dorie, for sharing it!) I want to taste those decadent sticky carmelized edges of cake in that last photo…

  • November 16, 2010 3:31pm

    It looks so delicious! I cannot find créme fraiche in Italy, would mascarpone be an acceptable relacement?

  • zaphia
    November 16, 2010 3:58pm

    this one is baking in the oven right now as I type!

  • November 16, 2010 4:00pm

    Those salesclerks sound very similar to the ones you might find here in the states! I suppose no city has cornered the market on that behavior.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I love the simplicity and it looks absolutely delightful. Now is a perfect time to make this with all of the local apples still in season.

  • November 16, 2010 4:28pm

    This is the first thing I made from the book – and it’s made repeat appearances! It’s been carted to the home a neighbor who’s husband was dying of cancer, been requested by a friend at a distant park who was looking for a going away cake, and been served cold as my sweet husband’s breakfast.

    In short, it’s the best. Thanks for highlighting it and giving us your tips – always appreciated!

  • November 16, 2010 4:32pm

    i made this lovely cake yesterday, and really liked having the apple without the cinnamon, as you discussed. but, cranberries are in season here and i’m thinking the next time i make it, i’ll add a handful.

  • April
    November 16, 2010 5:36pm

    I made this last Friday evening, and it was tasty. I tend to prefer things with flavor “kicks” though, and think that serving it with a caramel sauce or cinnamon ice cream would increase the appeal.

  • Liz
    November 16, 2010 5:43pm

    Didn’t have any rum but used Calvados. It was wonderful.

  • Shari
    November 16, 2010 6:23pm

    I love Dorie Greenspan’s recipes! The cake looks wonderful. I’m still in shock over the comment that 41% of Parisians think if you’re nice that you’re an embecile. Wow. After giving it some thought (I’ve actually been sitting here in shock), I’ve grudgingly come to the conclusion that it’s not just Parisians that think that way. It explains why it’s so hard to find a nice person anymore. Dang, this explains so many questions that I’ve been wrestling with in my mind lately over people’s -what I consider- shameful, rude and inconsiderate behavior. I like being nice, so I guess people will just have to think I’m not too bright. But I will be able to live with myself. I will also be happier knowing that I was kind.

  • S
    November 16, 2010 7:46pm

    This cake is wonderful!!! I made it last night. It had so many apples that I was convinced I made it wrong. I love this recipe! It’s more apple than cake. The only changes I made were to use brandy vs rum and almond extract vs vanilla. I’m not usually a fan of sweet things, but this was great! It’s a great breakfast cake to enjoy with a cup of tea. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • November 16, 2010 9:35pm

    “no samples” LOL!!!!!!!


  • November 16, 2010 10:17pm

    mm what a lovely cake! and what a hilarious story! i recently read 60 million frenchmen can’t be wrong, and i feel like i have a slightly better grasp of the french psyche, but there’s so much i still don’t understand!

    anyway, this is the 2nd great blog review i’ve read of dorie greenspan’s new book, i will have to get my hand on it soon. thanks for the recipe and the fun story!

  • November 17, 2010 12:01am

    David, Ok I’m sold. The girls and I are giving this one a shot tomorrow for Lani’s birthday. I’ll let you know.

  • November 17, 2010 12:05am

    Like so many others, I fell in love with this recipe at first sight, then again at first taste. I wrote about it a few weeks ago, and made just a few changes. I didn’t have any rum, but Navan Vanilla Liqueur was a wonderful substitution:

    I’m also happy-jealous thinking of you and Dorie strolling through Paris sampling pastries…

  • November 17, 2010 12:05am

    Made it, Loved it. thanks.

  • November 17, 2010 3:19am

    Nice one, gotta love the shopping in Paris ;)

  • November 17, 2010 6:14am

    Amazing to me that this was your post for today, as I JUST finished making Dorie’s Applesauce Spice Bars from “Baking: From My Home to Yours”, had smoothed out the scrumptious caramel glaze over the top (with my daughter Julia’s fingers getting into it), sat down and clicked on your blog. The bars are basically delicious little handheld versions of a bigger apple cake like this one. Don’t you love Dorie? If I ever get to meet her I’m going to give her a big, warm hug, and thank her for all of her wonderful contributions to my waistline. Please tell her thanks for me!

  • Dana
    November 17, 2010 7:28am

    Love your sense of humor; french bureaucracy reminds of Lebanese bureacracy; have to wonder if all Francophone countries (Canada excluded perhaps) suffer the same infuriating ailment.

    I have bookmarked this recipe since I saw it on frenchfridayswithdorie and it is now on my list of recipes to try for Thanksgiving. I am planning on buy Dorie’s book. I leaved through it this weekend at B&N and could have easily spent the whole afternoon reading every single recipe.


  • Christine
    November 17, 2010 8:19am

    A true french (and my own family) favorite. So simple. I like to add some grated lemon peel, the combination of rum, lemon and vanilla is a sure winner. And I agree with Carol and Kiki, the best apples for this recipe are Reinettes, Canada grises or Boscops.

  • November 17, 2010 1:15pm

    The simplest recipes always turn out best and this is no exception. I polished off my first slice now and it was delicious. I am glad there is no cinnamon in this recipe. The baked apple flavour by itself is wonderful.