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Skillet French Apple Cake

5 from 11 votes

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Easy to make and loaded with fruit, this moist French apple cake recipe has the irresistible texture of bread pudding. Serve warm, straight from the cast iron skillet. 

A black cast iron skillet with whiskey-infused French apple cake, sliced apples and powdered sugar on top.
Warm and homey apple cake topped with confectioner’s sugar.

This cake is a sweet treat that’s as homey as it gets, inspired by a homestyle old-fashioned French or Italian-style apple cake.

Rustic and unfussy are two perfect words to describe this apple whiskey cake. Slice the cake with a knife right in the pan. A warm slice straight from the oven is the best way to encourage a full-on cozy fall feeling!

Instead of a cake pan or springform pan, this dessert is baked in a cast-iron skillet, which is a big part of its homespun appeal. But aside from what it’s baked in, I think it’s the texture that might be the winning detail.

Because there are more apples in the batter than any other ingredient, the cake has a very moist interior that will remind you of a proper bread pudding. It’s so good!

Image of a black cast iron skillet with whiskey-infused French apple cake, sliced apples and turbinado sugar on top, before baking.

Types of apples for apple cake

Use tart, crisp, firm-textured variety of apples for the best results.

  • Granny Smith
  • Jonagold
  • Pink Lady
  • Gala
  • Honeycrisp

Perk up your French apple cake

The small amount of spirits in the batter supplies a nice hint of woody, complex flavor, without tasting at all boozy.

I used an aged Irish whiskey to flavor the cake because that’s what happens to be sitting on the bar cart at the moment. Actually, whiskey’s barrel-aged overtones blend really well with vanilla extract for that very reason.

  • To make this really French-inspired, definitely use cognac if you have it! Good American bourbon, whiskey or rum will also do the honors quite nicely.
  • If you don’t want any spirits in your cake, just omit it and double the amount of vanilla extract.
  • Add a 1/2 teaspoon of ground spices to the dry ingredients, such as nutmeg, cinnamon or ginger.
Photo of a black cast iron skillet with baked French apple cake, with sliced apples and powdered sugar on top.

This is a good time to sing the praises of the cast iron skillet, a reliable, versatile piece of cooking equipment that no kitchen should be without.

If you don’t have one yet, what are you waiting for?! Best of all, affordable pre-seasoned pans are easy to find.

Photo of a cast iron skillet French apple cake, with a slice served on a gray plate.

A spoonful of softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream would be fantastic served alongside a warm slice.

More cast-iron cooking resources:

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Cast Iron Skillet French Apple Cake

Karen Tedesco
A homey French apple cake you can serve warm, straight from the cast-iron skillet it's baked in. Just top with powdered sugar or whipped cream!
Print Pin
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine Baking
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 stick (113 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ¼ pounds (625 g) Gala or Honeycrisp apples, 4 or 5 small
  • 1 cup (140 g) all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup (180 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) whiskey, bourbon, Cognac or apple brandy
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup (75 ml) buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) turbinado sugar
  • Powdered sugar for serving


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175C)
  • Brush a 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet enough of the melted butter (about 1 tablespoon) to lightly coat it on the bottom and sides.
  • Core the apples and peel all but one. Slice the unpeeled apple into half moons about ¼-inch thick. Cut the remaining apples into ½-inch chunks.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl.
  • Lightly beat the eggs in another bowl with the sugar just until foamy (an immersion blender is great for this task). Stir in the whiskey, vanilla and buttermilk.
  • Pour half of the egg mixture over the flour mixture and fold briefly. Pour in the remaining butter and stir. Add the remaining egg mixture and stir until no flour is visible. Add the chopped apples and stir gently to blend.
  • Spoon the batter into the skillet. Arrange the sliced apples on the top, then sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
  • Bake until the cake springs back when poked in the center, and the edges are golden brown, 55-60 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • Feel free to substitute the whiskey with another amber spirit, like bourbon or Cognac.
  • If you don’t want any spirits in your cake, just omit it and double the amount of vanilla extract.
  • The cake keeps at room temperature up to 2 days.
Recipe adapted from Cook Beautiful 


Calories: 316kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 214mg | Potassium: 126mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 467IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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  1. How would you adjust the recipe for high altitude baking (5,280 ft)? Thanks!

  2. Quick question. I’m super excited to make this but I have a 12″ cast iron not a 10″. How, if at all, would you recommend I compensate ingredients for the extra inches. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Nicole – Do you have a 9″ or 10″ cake pan? You can use that instead of a skillet. If not, use your 12″ inch cast iron, but increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees and decrease the baking time to 40-45 minutes. The cake will also turn out a bit flatter.

  3. Hi I’m a bit confused in regards to the apples. So do we soak all of the apples and then arrange them on top (including the unpeeled)?

    1. Hi Alexis – great question. Just the chopped apples get blended into the batter, and the sliced apple is arranged on top to decorate.