Dorie Greenspan’s French Apple Cake

Apple cake

I am so ready for fall, but it has been in the 80’s and super humid the last few days. I keep throwing on a pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt before heading outside and I’m miserable. I’m so ready for fall. Don’t get me wrong, I got a little sad when our pool closed last weekend, but I am so ready for some cool crisp air. I love fall and everything that it brings.

I was super excited when I came around the corner of the fruit display at Trader Joe’s and they had a nice big bag of Macintosh apples on sale. Mac’s are my favorites and I was not disappointed. They taste like apple cider to me and that brings back lots of memories.

Growing up in Attica, NY we had a cider mill and every fall we would go to the mill to get our apple cider. To this day, I honestly think that it is the best apple cider I have ever in my life had. It wasn’t too sweet but it had a nice crisp apple flavor. When I bite into a Macintosh that cider is what I taste….ahhhh memories. The mill shut down probably about 15 years ago. I seem to remember that the regulations changed around making apple cider and they had to start pasteurizing it…I’m not sure if that was too much for them to endure, but it is very sad that they ever closed.

I think that is why when fall starts to show it’s face the first thing I crave are apples.

So here we have Dorie’s French Apple Cake and this is from her book Around My French Table

Jim asked what made this cake French and I told him it was the alcohol. I have no idea really, but I also think it might be the way that this cake is simply flavored without a whole lot of spices like cinnamon. The rum and the vanilla give the cake a lot of it’s flavor – oh yes, and of course the apples. I actually used light rum because that is all we had. I do think I would want to use dark rum if I made this again. You don’t need a whole lot so you could just go buy one of the little airplane bottles and you would be fine. The cake is almost like a pudding when it is done. I didn’t get much of a crumb except around the tops and the edges, but it was a very nice consistency and the flavor was great.

This is a snap to make and most of the work was in peeling the apples. Ella had this for breakfast a few days this week to polish it off. I was ok with that because in all honesty, this cake is very heavy on the apples and I also used white whole wheat flour, so it is really not too bad of an option – even for breakfast.


French Apple cake
This is Dorie Greenspan's French Apple cake. I thought it tasted a bit like a pudding with lots of apples tucked in.
Recipe type: Dessert
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and center rack in your oven. Butter an 8 inch round springform pan and place on a baking sheet. Dorie says to line with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. I didn't do this.
  2. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk.
  3. Peel the apples and then cut them into 1 inch chunks. (I think I cut mine too large so I would even try a bit smaller next time.)
  4. Beat the eggs with a whisk until they are foamy and then pour the sugar in and whisk for another minute until blended in. Whisk in the rum and vanilla and then half the flour. Mix all of that until incorporated and then add half of the melted butter followed by the remaining flour and then finally the remaining butter. With a rubber spatula fold in the apples and mix until all of the apples are coated with batter. Spread mixture into pan and try to even it out as much as you can.
  5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Run a knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan.

Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

This is a great cake for fall.

We were up in Maryland last weekend visiting my in-laws and this cake was actually a collaborative effort between my mother-in-law (Martha) and me.  It turned out wonderfully (even though at one point I dumped some of the flour mixture on the counter) – oops!  I think I carefully got most of it back in the mixing bowl though because this cake was so moist and delicate – it turned out perfect!

After the cake finished baking we decided to take the girls to the park to get some of their energy out of their system.  While we were out, my mother-in-law finished up the frosting.  That was a nice surprise because I have only made this type of frosting once before and since there was company I was a  bit nervous.  It really isn’t too difficult, but if you get any moisture into the frosting it can set you back a bit.  The end results are glorious though – as you can probably see from the picture.  This frosting is very similar to a seven minute frosting which I can only describe as a mixture between marshmallows and a meringue – it’s heavenly.  If you haven’t tried it before I definitely suggest giving it a try.  It’s a nice change from your typical buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

The cake is just the right blend of spices.  You will definitely not want to overbake this one as spice cakes can sometimes end up a bit dry – this didn’t at all, it was just right.  We made this cake in honor of Jim’s grandfather’s birthday next week.  Happy birthday Herb!  We hope this year is full of spice – ha ha!


Spice Cake

Recipe is from the New York Times Heritage Cookbook – Region: Maine

2 2/3 cups cake flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
½ t. ground allspice
¾ cup butter
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
¾ cup buttermilk
3 eggs

This recipe also calls for 1 cup raisins, rinsed in HOT water, drained and chopped and 1 cup finely chopped nuts.  We did not add these.  The raisins would add moisture to the cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set oven rack to middle position.

Sift the flour with the baking soda, salt and spices

Beat the butter to soften and cream it.  Add the flour mixture, brown sugar and buttermilk and mix to moisten.  Beat 2 minutes with electric mixer on medium speed.  (Note from Martha – Because we were using a more powerful mixer than was available at the time this cookbook was published, I would use caution and adjust the time to possibly 1 minute.)

Add the eggs and beat one minute longer.

If using the raisins and nuts add at this time.

Pour into 3 8 inch cake pans.  Greased and floured.  Bake 25 minutes.   We used 2  9 inch pans and probably baked about 20-21 minutes You will have to adjust time for thickness of cake.

Brown Sugar Frosting

2 egg whites
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
1/8 t. salt
½ cup water
1 T light corn syrup
1 ¼ t. vanilla

Place all except VANILLA in top of a double boiler, beat for about 1 minute then place over boiling water and beat with a mixer for 7 minutes or until frosting stands in stiff peaks.  Remove from over boiling water, add vanilla and beat into mixture.   Frost cooled cake.  (During very humid weather you make have to beat longer to get stiff peaks)