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It’s interesting how many views of Paris there are, which you notice if you follow the variety of voices that write about life in the City of Lights. (A mistake some writers make is to call it the City of Light, and ‘lights’ in actually plural.) 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 in Paris full time and don’t just get to sampe my way through the lovely pastry shops and meet chocolatiers, but like most Parisians, I also spend a fair amount of time wrestling 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 to direct me there. 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. C’est comme ça

Having a French partner helps, and he also helps me in the kitchen, like when Romain arrived with a bag of apples from a friend’s farm in Burgundy. Some were dinged up a bit, as they weren’t from the supermarché, but French apples are delicious for baking, where bumps and bruises magically disappear.

So to keep things in perspective (as best I can…) I like to read other voices from Paris, such as Dorie Greenspan, whose book, Around My French Table, is a hefty collection of her favorite recipes and stories about Paris. She lives on the opposite side of the city, in a different neighborhood. And where I am sometimes defeated by city life, as a “part-time Parisian,” as she often calls herself, she manages to see the good in everything.

This is a very typique French recipe for home cooks, made with not a lot of ingredients, relying on no special techniques or hard-to-find equipment, and loved by all. 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.

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 as I’m doing.

French Apple 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 Romain brought them to me. The rum is really a great flavor in this cake, but if you’re avoiding alcohol, you could double or triple 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 often decide to add a dollop of crème fraîche alongside, but it's wonderful just as it is.
The original recipe uses a springform pan but if you don't have one, you can use an 8-inch (20cm) cake pan, buttering it well and lining the bottom with a circle of parchment paper before adding the batter. I've also make it in a 9-inch (23cm) cake pan and it works well, although it won't be a high.
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 8 cake
  • 3/4 cup (110g) flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 (about 2 pounds, 1kg) 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
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.
  • Heavily butter an 8-inch (20cm) springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Peel and core the apples, then dice them into 1-inch (3cm) pieces.
  • 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
  • Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter.
  • 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.
  • Bake the cake for 50 minute to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. It may take less time, depending on the apples, so check the cake 5 or so minutes before the recommended baking time. 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


    • beste

    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:))

    • beste

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

    • Chez Loulou

    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.

    • Hannah

    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.

    • LimeCake

    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!

    • Jessica @ How Sweet

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

    • Paula

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

    have a nice time,

    • Sasa

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

    • The Blue-Eyed Bakers

    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!

    • A Plum By Any Other Name

    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. ;)

    • Merisi, Vienna

    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”. ;-)

    • Merisi, Vienna

    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. ;-)

    • Italian Postcards

    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

    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.

    • Curry

    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

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

    • David
    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…

    • The Food Hound

    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

    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?

    • Flamingobear

    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.

    • Vicki B

    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.

    • Camille

    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…

    • Foodie in Berlin

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

    • witloof

    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!

    • Leah

    This French Apple Cake looks absolutely delicious!


    • Fix Your ITunes

    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!

    • Scarletta

    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!

    • Dime Store Foodie

    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!

    • the blissful baker

    this apple cake looks scrumptious!

    • Janet

    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!

    • Paris Paul

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

    • Nancy Baggett

    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

    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.

    • David
    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.

    • Dorie Greenspan

    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

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

    • Nicole

    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.

    • olga

    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

    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!

    • cookie

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

    • GFree_Miel

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

    • Cris

    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

    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!

    • Lisa Davies

    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.

    • Claudia

    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

    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.

    • Teresa

    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

    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

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

    • linda

    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

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

    • Tricia

    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

    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.

    • Pepper

    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.

    • Pepper

    Wow, could I make any more embarrassing spelling mistakes.

    • Kitty

    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 :)

    • Chris

    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!

    • Cookin’ Canuck

    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

    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!

    • Bobbie Kramer

    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

    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.

    • JulieSF

    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

    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

    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.

    • David
    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.

    • Momma Cupcake

    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

    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

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

    • Wendy

    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.

    • Abigail

    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….

    • David
    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

    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

    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

    • parisbreakfast

    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.

    • parisbreakfast

    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

    • Kiki

    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….)

    • Nicole

    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

    “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.

    • homegrown countrygirl

    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…

    • Enzo

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

    • zaphia

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

    • bunkycooks

    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.

    • Charissa

    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!

    • cindy

    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

    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

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

    • Shari

    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

    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!

    • ButterYum

    “no samples” LOL!!!!!!!


    • Anna

    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!

    • Paul Bennett

    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.

    • laura

    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…

    • Jessica Stowe

    Made it, Loved it. thanks.

    • Anna Johnston

    Nice one, gotta love the shopping in Paris ;)

    • annie

    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

    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

    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.

    • pRiyA

    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.


    Unfortunately I won’t be a Paris anytime soon.

    I too would LOVE to sit at Dori’s table, so I will be baking this cake…..

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    PS. Yes, it will be difficult to put the cinnamon down, but I can do it.

    • Ashlee

    I made this last night, and it’s divine. The rum really does give it that something extra. I wouldn’t omit it for the world! Maybe play around with different alcohols, but NEVER–I repeat–NEVER omit it! Thanks David!

    • Susan

    I made an apple cake from Leite’s Culinary that had no cinnamon and it too added rum to the batter. It was so nice to eat an apple cake where the apple flavor wasn’t overwhelmed by cinnamon. I couldn’t taste the rum, but that was my fault (fault? I am rather glad I couldn’t taste it, after the fact!), I used a medium bodied rum that didn’t have much flavor by itself, The apples were coated with heavy cream and layered between layers of batter, an unusual technique, but quite nice! I do like chunks of apples, and they certainly are easier to mix into a batter!

    • hillaryn

    I pre-ordered Dorie’s book and the apple cake was the first thing I made. Great minds…I am not a fan of rum or rum flavored things, so I used Calvados and it was delicious. I used 3 or 4 different apples and really loved the different flavors in each bite. Such a simple idea, and a great touch.
    Wow, I’m watching BBC right now and Unesco has given “intangible national treasure” status to the Mediterranean diet and French cooking. I guess that gives those of us who love red wine, hummus, olives, crusty bread, yummy cheeses etc etc a new reason to keep on truckin’…as if we need an excuse!

    • Joy

    I love that recipe. Yum

    • rachel

    This is my first post here; I’m just writing to thank you for your blog– every recipe I’ve tried has been wonderful (and, wonder of wonders, realistically achievable for the frazzled home cook). Oatmeal raisin cookies, those amazing chouquettes, ginger snaps… and tonight, this fabulous cake.

    It turned out perfectly, even looking more or less like the lovely cake in your photo — a big achievement for me. Thanks also for restraining me from adding the cinnamon (how did you know I was reaching for it?). A special bonus: My two-year-old devoured a piece and then said, with great seriousness, “I found it very yummy.” Me, too.

    • Shoshana

    Made it with pear, mix of brown and white sugar, and spiced rum instead of dark rum. Great flavor! Sadly it fell apart when I tried to flip it out of the pan. I will make it again soon but leave it in the pan to serve. Yum!

    • BarbF

    I made this cake the other night — it turned out lovely and delicious, although didn’t have the caramelized appearance on the sides that you had (I buttered it generously). No worries. & I added a sprinkling of coarse sugar on the top (because we bakers can never just leave the damn thing alone) — it came out nice and sparkly, and my co-workers were very pleased. Were your apples still a bit “al dente”? Mine were, or maybe one or two of the four diff types were. Kind of a nice contrast.

    I’m going to tackle those Baked Apricot Bars next — yeow!!

    • Bunny


    This cake looks delish and I’m planning on making it for Thanksgiving. I have lots of baking to do in advance and was wondering, does it freeze well? Given the large amount of apples, I didn’t know if they would get mushy if frozen. Thank you!

    • Deb

    Okay, so as I was reading, I somehow got it in my head that you were going to use the apple jelly in the cake. I was disappointed, since I had been picturing this cake dripping with apple syrup, so I tweeked it a bit. I made a reduction of apple juice, cutting time and steps by starting with frozen apple juice concentrate, and drizzled the very thick syrup over the finished cake. May I just say that this was brilliant and took an already brilliant cake to another level? Thank you once again for publishing recipes that I actually want to make.

    • Carmen from chocri

    Aww, cultural differences – but so much good does come with them. Just be glad that you’re not in Germany where people are not unfriendly but just negative all the time! And it seems like the inspiration is leading to some awesome, awesome food in your kitchen, which we all can appreciate!

    • Beth

    I made this with half Anjou pears and substituted regular flour for Pamela’s gluten-free baking flour – and yes, it still tastes divine. I am so grateful you posted this recipe, most definitely going to be a regular in my kitchen. Also I’ll be adding Dories’ books to my holiday reading list.

    • Shoshana

    Okay, I have a question. I made it again with apples. Excellent. It seems too buttery. What happens if I decrease the butter? What are some substitutes for the butter liquid? Milk?

    • Barbara

    This looks like such a delicious recipe that I absolutely must try it. However, I do not have a 9 inch springform. When baking it’s usually just for myself or a small group, so most of my bakeware is smaller. I do have several adorable 11cm springforms, which habitually produce a variety of tiny cheesecakes, tortes and the like.
    Through much trial and error do I discover the proper cooking times for my itty bitty army. And suggestions as to what time I should aim for with this recipe?

    • Catherine Gerson


    I made this cake the other night and we consumed half of it over the course of 2 days. Then, my French boyfriend welcomed his friends from Normandy and they were gobsmacked. They loved it and requested more! Needless to say, if it’s fine by their standards, it’s more than fine by mine. Thank you for publishing this delicious recipe!

    • dan

    I made this today, sort of… I only had one egg… so I substituted with some milk. The result was a quite mushy crumb, still edible when cold. I had also ran out of sugar! I only had 50 grams, but it wasn’t lacking in sweetness at all, I guess because the apples were quite sweet as well. And I didn’t have rum, I had Becherovka! Iiii-haa. This is a czech drink flavoured with 2 milion plants, or so. Next time I’m only going to make sure I have two eggs, I am happy with less sugar and a different alcohol. Oh, and I doubled or even tripled on the vanilla…

    • TorontoSarah

    We made this last night as you’ve written the recipe and it was devine, we served it with a side of custard. It was nice to have a lovely desert that did not require getting out the mixer! Thank you for sharing, besides we needed an excuse to stock up on rum :-)

    • Joseph in Toulouse

    I am also hardened and resigned (if not a bit bitter at times), but perhaps it is just November, because I seem to be having a difficult month French-wise. Coincidentally I also just made this cake before looking at your blog and agree the rum is crucial. I’m also partial to Patricia Wells’ version with the crunchy topping.

    • L

    This sounds and looks delicious. I cannot wait to try out this lovely recipe!

    • Jezebel

    Come to Nantes. Granted, it rains all the time, but even the Monoprix clerks are not unpleasant, and the service that I’ve gotten everywhere else has been delightful (so far). Plus, the kouign aman is delicious.

    • Susan In L.A.

    I made this yesterday. Super easy and a mega-hit. I used honeycrisp apples. My Dad said, “If you ever need to bring something to a party or a funeral, this is it.” There isn’t much batter; it looks like batter-coated apple chunks going into the oven, but it’s a great cake, especially for non-owners of mixers. Thank you, David.

    • Melanie Large

    Oh! This is the recipe what I’ve been looking for. Now it’s time to make an Apple Cake. I’m thankful that my dad planted apple tree on our backyard. Now I can simply pick some apples. Fresh apples will make it yummier.

    • Ashley

    Wonderful recipe! Made it this weekend, and making it again for Thanksgiving! Also, couldn’t help but buy Dorie’s cookbook since it was so great. I love simple french recipes.

    • Lina

    Made this today and loved it, thanks for the recipe! Love that it uses minimal amounts of ingredients and I don’t have to drag out the mixer. The flavor with the rum is really lovely. A cake yummy enough for Saturday night but easy enough for a Monday!

    • Michael Davis

    Just made the cake this morning. My wife loves me more now.

    • Jennifer Jo

    Made this three times (variations included cranberries, maple sugar, and nuts). Just got around to posting it yesterday. Thanks!

    • Anna Simutis

    I made this French Apple Cake earlier in the week when testing Thanksgiving Day recipes and oh my goodness… so delicious and easy! I found the dollop of creme fraiche to be a perfect counter to the cake’s sweetness. I’m making it again this morning. My fiancé has one more thing to brag about me now.

    • Sam Breach

    I somehow read about this on Pim’s site but then googling to find the recipe ended up with you, which is just as well since hers required a microwave which I don’t have since mine blew up. Anyway – I made it and served it with chantilly (aka whipped cream with sugar) to make the Frenchman give extra special thanks to me. Great recipe, thank you and Dorrie and Pim. I never did get why the French like to sweeten their dairy so anyway?

    • Susan Talbott

    I made the apple cake for my family – we all loved it (served with vanilla ice cream). The grandkids want to know when I’ll serve it again. Soon I’ll try chicken with carmelized shallots that friend Phyllis raves about..


    • Ali

    Your recipes have never failed me.

    I JUST popped this cake into the oven.

    I couldn’t find any dark rum, so I substituted with some Pineau des Charentes.

    Will let you know how it turns out!

    Thanks for another great post :)

    • Elizabeth

    I made this for Thanksgiving and everyone really appreciated how light and elegant it was. Thank you for posting this! I’m a big fan of Dorie Greenspan’s but I haven’t picked up the book yet.

    • Sara

    I made this for Thanksgiving, except I made a rum based sauce to go with it instead of the aforementioned toppings. It was a big hiy and went quickly.

    • toni

    I made this and the chocolate idiot cake for Thanksgiving with friends. There were about 12 store- bought pies there, but folks stole the leftovers of my two cakes in the middle of the night and didn’t touch the Vons/Ralphs/Trader Joes pies. :)

    • Peggy

    I don’t bake much, but would like to change that! Your recipes look wonderful so I tried this apple cake today. After 1 hour and 15 minutes, it seems to me the cake is still a bit wet in the center…….what ever did I do wrong?! When told to “whisk”, did I beat too much with my electric hand mixer………..this is why I don’t bake much………..please advise :) I have taken it out after 1 hour and 20 minutes, but honestly, it seems too wet in the center, though browned nicely. My oven is fine to my knowledge.

    • Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes)

    I’ve had my eyes on the book since forever! The cake looks awesome. Got a recipe for creme fraiche?

    • Rose White

    Apple is the best flavor for pie but I never try of making a cake that has a apple flavor. I better try this one to tell if it really taste good.

    • Sabrina

    I am in the avoiding alcohol camp, so I did double up on the vanilla but I also substituted some of the sugar for a flavorful honey and it was delicious.

    • Peggy

    OK, I was afraid at how wet this cake was when it came out of the oven, but I must admit it grew on me after it had sat in the fridge overnight. I finally realized it was probably supposed to be a bit wet and clafouti-like and when I ate a piece the second day, I found that it is a delicious cake. I love the cakes one finds in France and Germany and this one helps me not miss them ! I used the rum and was glad I did. Also, it looks SO pretty!

    • Min

    I tried the recipe last night. It was simple to make and impressed my dinner guests even though it was my first attempt at making Apple cake. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • Ana

    HI David,

    It’s raining and cold here in San Diego, so I decided to stay in and bake this. It tastes wonderful, smells great and looks really good! I can’t believe how easy this recipe is! Thanks for posting it. I’m one happy gal. =)

    • andrea mauer

    I made this last week for my family and it was a delightful success. It was subtle and lovely! The slightly custardy texture was a winner and I will definitely make this again. I love David’s books and this website.

    • Patricia

    Je vais l’essayer !!!! C’est une recette très proche du fondant aux poires français, à la différence que nous ajoutons d’abord une couche de caramel à sec dans le fond du moule avant de déposer les poires puis la préparation dessus.

    • Elsie Ng

    i tried the apple cake – it turned out very well, except that we find the base of the cake rather soft and a little moist. Is this the right texture? Just curious..

    • monika uznanska

    Thank you for posting this recipe. So quick and easy to make and oh so delicous! A firm family favourite.

    • Jamie

    This is the best apple cake ever, maybe because of tje dark rum. It is very easy and quick. The third time i made it I sprinkled the bottom of the pan with brown sugar, added a tiny bit more rum and baked for an additional 10 or 15 minutes .
    Thanks for this fabulous and relatively healthy dessert recipe.

    • Rosa

    So delicious and super easy! I used Braeburn, Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples. It taste fabulous! I had vanilla ice cream on hand but I think vanilla sauce would had been a better pairing.
    Thank you so much for posting.


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