The classic French Apple Cake gets a twist with the use of spelt flour; adding nutty notes to its signature buttery crumb filled with big apple clusters.
Like in many countries through Fall and Winter, the apple cake is a classic in households. Of all, the French version is probably one the most unpretentious and bare. With no use of cinnamon like in America, nor crumble top, nuts or glaze. A cake reminiscent of the German Versunkener Apfelken or the Russian Sharlotka, both made in similar ways, with more fruit than actual cake dough. Just honest and simply focusing on what it should – the apples.
Indeed, the fame of this French classic lays on its simple tender crumb loaded with apple clusters. Although in true French fashion, it also includes a generous amount of butter and alcohol, making it incredibly fragrant.
This recipe is adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan – which is sort of the most popular (and reliable) recipe for French Apple Cake you will find. It is delicious the classic way, with the use of regular all-purpose flour (3/4 cups). But occasionally, I like to twist it up with the use of spelt flour.
In baking, I love switching for natural whole grain flours whenever I can. But for delicate fruit cakes like this one, I find that some whole grains such as rye or buckwheat can give an unfriendly earthy bitterness. But spelt flour works impeccably in this cake. It has mild nutty notes that complement beautifully – just enough – the sweetness of the baked apples. Spelt is a finer flour that doesn’t weigh the cake down. It gives a light crumb and soft texture to the cake.
With this Spelt French apple cake being so simple and bare, using good quality ingredients will make a huge difference. Good unsalted butter, good vanilla extract and a nice variety of crisp baking apples.
Lastly, the dark rum. Essential. Please, do not skip it. It’s how one turns an every day apple cake into this unique, timeless French classic.
Spelt French Apple CakePrint This
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples, a mix of varieties if you can.
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Line 8- or 9-inch (20-23cm) springform pan with parchment paper and place it on a baking sheet.
Melt the butter in a sauce saucepan and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
Peel and core the apples, then dice them into 1-inch (3cm) pieces.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs (whole) until light and foamy. Whisk in the sugar, then dark rum and vanilla extract.
Whisk in half of the flour mixture, gently stir. Add in half of the melted butter, gently stir. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter.
Fold in the apples until they are evenly coated with the batter (it will look like there is too much apple and not enough batter, but this is normal). Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top a little bit, with a spatula.
Bake the cake for 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes and remove it carefully from the pan. Carefully peel off parchment paper, and enjoy warm.