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Easy to make and loaded with fruit, this moist French apple cake has the irresistible texture of bread pudding. Serve warm, straight from the cast iron skillet.
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. Dig into a warm slice straight from the oven and you’ll get a full-on cozy fall feeling!
It’s baked in my favorite 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!
A spoonful of softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream would be fantastic served alongside a warm slice.
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 or whiskey 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.
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?!
You can use your handy cast-iron skillet for a batch of pancakes in the morning, and a perfect roasted chicken for dinner.
Best of all, you affordable pre-seasoned pans are easy to find.
More cast-iron cooking resources:
- Here’s a step-by-step guide to seasoning a cast-iron skillet.
- Cast-Iron Skillet Recipes for Everyday
Cast Iron Skillet French Apple Cake
- 1 stick (120 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
- ⅓ 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.
- 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.
Hey, I’m Karen
Creator of Familystyle Food
I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.