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
- 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.
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?
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.
What a delicious looking cake! I like to bake with apples all year long too! And girl, your little family is the cutest :-)
Apples are definitely meant to be baked with year round especially if it’s in a dessert as lovely as this.
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!
ahhhh that outfit is the best! Also, this cake is the best, so win-win. Love the recipe!
That crust looks insane!! I can’t wait to get my hands on all this deliciousness :)
This looks great Audra! I agree, my love for apples knows no season.
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.
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.
Vicki, Bravo for saying what many are thinking, unnecessary negativity has no place among those who share recipes, again Bravo!!!!!
You’re comment is incorrect the secret ingredient is in fact the calvados it is the Star ⭐
This is simply gorgeous. I must bake one this w/end. xo
I have THREE apple trees filled with apples, I will be making this recipe!! It looks great :)
I was just wondering, is that 11 and a half pounds of apples or half of 11 pounds of apples?
1 and 1/2 pounds :)
Oh! Thank you so much I was thinking that that was a lot of apples!
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!
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!
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.
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
Approximately how many cups of apples did you use for this recipe?
This was amazing! So good we decided to add it to our Thanksgiving dinner line up.
Can it be frozen?
To be honest I don’t think this cake would freeze well. I worry the texture of the custard would get grainy.
Very helpful. Thanks.
I don’t have a Springform pan, what else could I bake this in?
My battery leaks out of spring form pan, a lot of it too, what’s wrong?
What height is the springform pan that you used? I have a 9” diameter x 2” height.
Mine is about 3 inches high
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
Will this recipe work well if I use honeycrisp apples and avacado oil?
Yes that should be fine!
Made this, came out perfect. Loved it!
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.
Thanks so much for the feedback- I love this cake too!
I would like to substitute the one cup of vegetable oil with one cup of butter, what do you think?
I haven’t ever made that change so I’m not positive if it would work. Please try and let me know!