French apple cake

04 January 2018

French apple cake

I know it’s the beginning of January, and you’re probably all on a diet. Me too, to be honest. But I didn’t feel like I really got my full hit of apples in the prime autumn months, and there was this apple cake recipe I’ve been wanting to get around to …

I am pretty good at making, and then keeping New Year resolutions, as it happens. My experience is that it’s never a good idea to talk about it after even the middle of January, since from that point on people are looking for validation for their act of giving up, not seeking to suffer the smug reflections of some fanatic. So in that spirit, this will be my only post where I mention it.

The reason why New Year resolutions fail so much is that, properly done, they are attempts to change our habits. And for that reason, they are hard to keep because we are naturally creatures of habit and simply deciding we’re going to change one isn’t even close to sufficient to actually do it. You will have more success if you substitute a good habit for your ‘bad’ one, and if you have some sort of mental routine to reinforce the goal that you’re striving for. It’s a lot to ask, in the middle of a busy life with competing demands.

My resolutions for this year, for what it’s worth - include continuing the commitment to a minimum of one cardio exercise and one weight training session per week. I have reached that use-it-or-lose-it age. Luckily for me I enjoy the exercise, which may be why I don’t tend to fade off on the commitment once January has passed. Also the commitment to have nothing to do with social media before 11.00am. I like to create content and get meaty jobs done in the morning. Getting my head into consuming or creating micro-pieces of content just gets me out of the mental zone where I can effectively do this.

There are others, too boring to go into now, but I will generally be a better and happier person if I keep to the discipline of doing them. And I promise not to go on about it.

I first saw this apple cake on the David Lebovitz blog quite a few years ago. At some point it entered onto my ‘must cook this one day’ list, and I added the recipe onto the app I use (MacGourmet Deluxe) to keep all my recipes in one place. And there it sat until a week or so ago, when I was feeling that I needed a hit of apple wholesomeness. A quick search on ‘apple’, and there it was.

Now I think about it, I didn’t include a resolution to eat more seasonally - it’s something I have been actively and deliberately trying to do. But time flies past so quickly. We used to eat seasonally when we only had what was locally available. Now it’s all too easy not to. Still, it’s not too late to add to the resolution pool, is it? Hmm.

French apple cake

The recipe advises that you should use a mix of apples. I used a couple of Cox, a Braeburn, and a Russet. I can’t say it even crossed my mind while I was eating the result to focus on what variety of apples I could taste, but it was damn fine in any case. The cake will keep for three days, but I doubt it will last that long.

Serves: 6-8

110g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 apples, mixed varieties
2 eggs
150g caster sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
115g unsalted butter


1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. 

2. Melt the butter, and allow it to cool to room temperature. Separately, butter an 8 or 9 inch ovenproof dish.

3. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Peel and core the apples and chop them into largish chunks. 

5. In another bowl, beat the eggs until they foam, then whisk in the caster sugar, followed by the rum and vanilla essence. Whisk in half of the flour mix, and stir in half of the melted butter.

6. Stir in the rest of the flour, and then the rest of the butter. You should have a nice thick batter. Indulge yourself and taste it to marvel in its rum-tinged sweetness. Just a taste, though.

7. Fold in the apple cubes until they’re coated with the batter and put the mixture into the ovenproof dish. Push the top as flat as you can with the rounded part of a spoon, or with a spatula if you prefer. 

8. Bake this for around 50 minutes. A knife slid into the centre should come out clean. If not, give it another five or ten minutes. Once you’ve gotten it out of the oven, let it cool for a few minutes. If you want to serve it in the dish, that’s good. If you want to remove it to serve separately, then you’ll need to slide a knife around the edge to loosen the cake before turning it out.

Food waste notes

Another joy of this recipe is that food waste is not really much of an issue when it comes to the ingredients. You can buy four apples, so you don't have leftovers there to use up. Otherwise, it's all kitchen staples. I predict you won't have too many problems either with waste in the form of leftovers.