French Apple Cake Recipe

French apple cake slice

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For the French Apple Cake

  • 1 1/2 pounds Granny smiith apples, cored, peeled, and sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 pound Honey crisp apples, cored, peeled, and sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 141 g unsalted butter (10 Tbs)
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 150 g granulated sugar (12 Tbs)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 108 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs vanilla

For the Cinnamon Crumble

  • 56 g unsalted butter (4 Tbs), cubed into small pieces
  • 60 g all-purpose flour (1/2 cup)
  • 66 g light brown sugar (1/3 cup)
  • 1 Tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the Creme Anglaise

  • 120 ml heavy cream (1/2 cup)
  • 120 ml whole milk (1/2 cup)
  • 103 g granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/8 tsp salt


To Make the French Apple Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degree. Coat a 9 inch spring form pan with butter and flour and set aside. In a large skillet (either 10 or preferably 12 inch), add the butter and cook until the butter begins to brown.
  2. Once it begins to brown, pour the butter into a heat safe bowl, then add the allspice and ground cloves to the hot butter. Don’t scrape the brown bits out of the pan. Instead, pour the butter out and leave any remaining brown bits behind in the pan.
  3. Add the apples, salt, and 25 grams (2 tbs) of the sugar to the pan with the remaining brown bits still in the pan. Return to medium heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the apples are tender and all of the juices have evaporated.
  4. Transfer apples to a sheet pan, spread them out into an even layer, and place in the refrigerator to cool down for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Next, make the cake batter. In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder and stir. In a separate (large) bowl, combine the eggs, brown butter, remaining sugar, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the flour and gently stir with a spatula.
  6. Add the apples to the cake batter and gently fold to combine. Pour into the spring form pan and spread out evenly.

To Make the Cinnamon Crumble

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the texture resembles coarse sand.
  2. Pour over the French apple cake batter and spread evenly.
  3. Bake the cake on the middle rack for 35-40 minutes, or until very golden brown.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting and serving. Cooling takes approximately 2 hours or a little longer.

To Make the Creme Anglaise

  1. Combine the heavy cream, milk, vanilla bean and half the sugar in a small pot and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes so that the vanilla bean flavor develops.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a bowl and whisk. 
  3. Remove the vanilla bean from the cream, and slowly pour the cream into the eggs while whisking continuously.
  4. Return the custard back to the pot and cook over medium heat, whisking continuously until the cream anglaise thickens and reaches the “a la nappe” stage. This means you can coat the back of a spoon with the custard, run your finger down the middle, and the custard won’t run back together. 
  5. Strain the custard into a container and cover. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until cold. Pour over individual slices of cake and serve. This cake is best eaten within 1-2 days. After a couple of days, the texture diminishes and the cakes loses its crispness on top.


The French apple cake was adapted from Milk Street. The crumble was inspired by my favorite apple pie crumble from Bon Appetit.

Keywords: French apple cake, cinnamon crumble, creme anglaise