French Apple Custard Cake


Why does it seem like apples are considered a fall dessert ingredient? Is it just me or are they pretty delicious and easy to find all year round? There is never ever a time of year that I don’t love apples in desserts and this custardy apple cake is just perfect for a spring or summer treat.

I helped my Mother-in-law make it for Easter brunch and it was so delicious I had to share the recipe with you. 

The main part of the cake is smooth and custardy, filled with sweet apples and a hint of cinnamon. The sugary topping gets perfectly crisp while baking which contrasts with the silky filling.

The cake isn’t overly sweet which makes it great to eat at breakfast time. It’s also delicious served chilled which is so appealing as the weather gets warmer.


Pay close attention to the instructions when baking. The batter is divided into sections to give it the custard-like texture on top of the apple filling. Basically- you reserve some of the batter to add to the top and mix extra egg yolks into the custard…see below.

French Apple Custard Cake

French Apple Custard Cake

Yield: 10 servings.


  • 11/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges, and sliced 1/8 inch thick crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon Calvados*
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325F. Spray 9-inch springform and place pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.

Place apple slices into microwave-safe pie plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes**.

Toss apple slices with Calvados, lemon juice and cinnamon and let cool for 15 minutes.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk 1 cup flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a second bowl, whisk the whole egg (not the yolks!), oil, milk, and vanilla together until smooth.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer 1 cup batter to separate bowl and set aside.

Add egg yolks to the remaining batter and whisk to combine. Using spatula, gently fold in the apples. Transfer batter to the pan; using an offset spatula to spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing on apples to create even, compact layer, and smooth surface.

Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons flour into the batter you set aside. Pour over batter in pan and spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth the surface. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon of sugar evenly over cake.

Bake until center of cake is set, toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and top is golden brown, about 75 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours


Recipe adapted slightly from America's Test Kitchen

*Microwaving the apples ensures they are soft enough in the finished cake. The goal is for them to be pliable- so if one snaps after the first round of heating- continue to cook in 30 second intervals.

**If you don't have Calvados (French apple brandy,) any type of brandy would do. I also think rum or bourbon would add a nice flavor.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram


  1. This looks so delicious! I happen not to have a microwave at home – do you think lightly sauteing the apples would be an acceptable alternate method of softening them up?

    1. Yes. I just read a recipe that did just that. they mixed the sliced apples with 2 tbsp. Of butter, 2tbsp. Sugar, 1 tsp. Cinnamon and1/4 tsp. Freshly grated nutmeg. Salute about 5 min. Apple’s are arranged over top of custard filling.

  2. I agee – apples shouldn’t just be for fall desserts…they’re totally year-round! I love custard-y desserts, so I am all over this cake…pinning right now! p.s. your family picture is too stinking cute!

    1. Excellent cake, horrible directions. This recipe needs to be rewritten in a clear and concise manner. I skipped the calvados entirely I don’t buy small increments of alcohol to make recipes, ridiculous. For those who are like me, a nice apple cider or even apple juice works well as a substitute.

      1. It is a shame when people can’t be nicer in response – for example, one could say “it would be great if the directions were a bit clearer and if there was a non-alcoholic alternative to the calvados”…. Remember, the people who create these recipes take time and energy to do so and deserve to be treated with respect.

        1. Vicki, Bravo for saying what many are thinking, unnecessary negativity has no place among those who share recipes, again Bravo!!!!!

      2. You’re comment is incorrect the secret ingredient is in fact the calvados it is the Star ⭐

      3. I can’t imagine why you would respond in such a harsh tone when someone is providing you with a recipe. I thought the instructions were clear, and I don’t know how they could be more concise (I’m an editor). As for the Calvados, if you cook with apples a lot, it’s worth it, and a bottle will last you forever. Otherwise, you could frame it as a helpful hint: “For people looking for a teetotaling version, I use…” etc. Remember that websites are put together by real
        people! Happy baking!

  3. I was just wondering, is that 11 and a half pounds of apples or half of 11 pounds of apples?

  4. I made this cake today for my sister’s birthday. Let me start by saying I am NOT a baker! Anyway, this recipe was so easy to follow and the cake turned out perfectly. It was delicious to say the least and we all raved about how GOOD it was. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe. I could see this becoming a staple at our family’s special occasions and holidays!

  5. Do you know if this is can be de the day before? I had something else planned to serve company, but your post has really convinced me of otheriwise!

    1. Yes definitely. It is really good served cold so you can bring it out and serve it immediately or let it come to room temp if you prefer.

  6. My batter leaked out from the bottom of my springform pan. No mention of this possibility in your cmmethid or notes nor from any other rating . Have I done something wrong

    1. If the seal between the sides and bottom of the springform aren’t tight (might be slightly out of shape)this can happen. Next time, wrap your bottom piece in foil, then put a piece of parchment on top of the foil. Putting the parchment down will make it easy to slide off the foil onto a serving plate so you don’t cut into the foil.

    1. A pound and a half of prepped apples comes to about four and a half cups, but this is the one part of the recipe that doesn’t have to be precise.

  7. This was amazing! So good we decided to add it to our Thanksgiving dinner line up.

    1. To be honest I don’t think this cake would freeze well. I worry the texture of the custard would get grainy.

  8. My battery leaks out of spring form pan, a lot of it too, what’s wrong?

    1. Is it leaking out the bottom? You might have a warped pan or a pan that otherwise isn’t sealing well. Line with foil, spray with baking spray, maybe put a parchment round in the bottom for good measure.

  9. What height is the springform pan that you used? I have a 9” diameter x 2” height.

  10. Made this as a whole cake, and got rave reviews. Also halved the mixture and cut the apples smaller and put them in silicone cupcake moulds and reduced the time to about 45 mins. It made approx 15 cupcake sized individual cakes and also turned out lovely. Thanks so much

  11. I made this cake in a 9 inch 2 inch high cake pan. I was very pleased with the results. It had a very light, springy consistency. It wasn’t custardy but it was delicious. I was really impressed with how easy it was. I will definitely make it again. Oh and I used whatever apples I had on hand…not Granny smiths.

  12. I would like to substitute the one cup of vegetable oil with one cup of butter, what do you think?

    1. I haven’t ever made that change so I’m not positive if it would work. Please try and let me know!

  13. My cake came out extremely oily. Did anyone else have this? Can I cut oil in half next time?

  14. My kitchen smells amazing. I did use whole milk, but I used 1/2 cup coconut oil and 1/4 cup melted butter. Can’t wait to serve it tomorrow. Next time I will be brave and try the coconut milk.

  15. It’s Christmas Eve and the house smells incredible. Fixing a breakfast casserole for Christmas morning and your cake for a sweet treat. I used a splash of whiskey in place of the brandy. Can’t wait to taste it with a dollop of whipped cream.

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