Sugar and spice with apple is nice

By Emily Chavez

Picking apples is a much-loved autumn activity in my family. But once we have had our fun visiting the local orchard, we have such an abundance of apples that we can’t eat them fast enough before they turn soft and mealy. 

Although I am a fan of apple pie, crumble and muffins, I wanted to try something completely different this year with a French apple cake. 

The process is simple, with fewer than 10 steps. But this cake yields flavor and texture in bunches. The key ingredients that enrich and provide depth of flavor and aroma are the browned butter and spiced rum. The result is an easy-to-make cake with an intoxicating aroma, soft and moist texture, and spiced apple flavors that guests will eat up and ask for some to take home as mine did.

Spiced French Apple Cake

Active time: 15 minutes | Total time: 1 hour

Yields 10 servings


Cooking spray or butter, for coating the pan

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 medium apples

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup spiced rum

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Powdered sugar, for serving


Peel, core and dice the apples.

Over medium heat, brown the butter until it smells nutty. 

Whisk together flour, baking powder and fine salt in a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until fluffy. Add in the melted butter, light brown sugar, spiced rum and vanilla, and whisk until combined. 

Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Add the apples and gently fold until just combined. 

Transfer the batter to an 8-inch round cake pan prepared with cooking spray or butter and lined with a parchment paper round. Smooth out the top of the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees in the middle of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before carefully removing from the pan. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

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