French Apple, Vanilla & Rum Cake

French Apple Vanilla and Rum Cake | The Sugar Hit!


Did I ever tell you guys that I went to France when I was 15? Yes I am officially one of the 6 luckiest people in the world and I have my extremely generous parents to thank for that. If it makes you feel any better I totally can’t afford it now!


While we were there, we stayed at a Chateau (I know, I know, so lucky!) in the Normandy region. And I don’t know if you know this, but in Normandy they’re kind of famous for apples.


French Apple Vanilla and Rum Cake | The Sugar Hit!


And when I say kind of, I mean incredibly, justifiably famous for apples. This is the home of Calvados, a delicious apple brandy that I urge you to get your hands on as soon as you can, and a million other apple-y delicacies.


Just do a search for Normandy Apple Recipes – there’ll be a million tarts, as well as pies, cakes, puddings, and savoury dishes. And they’re all uniquely delicious in the way that so much French food is.


French Apple Vanilla and Rum Cake | The Sugar Hit!


But I never did find the particular recipe that I was looking for. It was for a dessert. A dessert I tasted in Normandy. An apple dessert that was dense, buttery, with juicy pieces of impossibly-apple-y apple, embedded in a tender cake or pudding base.


No amount of research could turn up a recipe that sounded like the one I was looking for.


French Apple Vanilla and Rum Cake | The Sugar Hit!


It certainly didn’t help that Alain, the Chateau owner, claimed to have found the recipe written down in his attic. I didn’t put much store in that, as he also made a lot of other claims, which were charming in an old-french-guy way, but probably not true.


If I had been a little older I would definitely have asked for the recipe, but alas I was 15 and too busy maintaining an air of studied aloofness and cool (right guys?).


French Apple Vanilla and Rum Cake | The Sugar Hit!


French Apple Vanilla and Rum Cake | The Sugar Hit!


I remembered sliced pieces of apple, hints of almond, lots of butter and no crust. Just a flat, tender, dense pudding-cake.


So, I set about trying to recreate that cake from memory. And you guessed it, friends – this is it!


French Apple Vanilla and Rum Cake | The Sugar Hit!


It is my absolute favourite, never to be tweaked or changed again, most delicious apple cake of all time. It is intensely buttery, and moist. It is redolent with chunks of sweet, tart apple. It is crunchy with almonds, and a scattering of sugar on top. And the whole thing is fragrant and soused with vanilla beans and rum.


This cake is my exact taste-memory of that time in France. And for me, it’s totally perfect. I’m pretty sure you’ll like it too! Shout out to me if you try it, I’d love to hear what you think.


xx Sarah.


French Apple Vanilla and Rum Cake | The Sugar Hit!


French Apple, Vanilla & Rum Cake
Buttery, heavenly, dense, delicious apple cake, scented with vanilla and rum.
For the apples:
  • 3 medium granny smith apples (or whatever kind you like)
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp rum
For the cake batter:
  • 1 + ½ sticks (150g) butter
  • ½ cup (110g) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¼ cups (185g) plain flour
  • ¾ cups (85g) almond meal
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup whole almonds, chopped
  • Sugar, to decorate
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F/180C and grease a 9 inch/22cm springform cake tin.
  2. Peel and core the apples, then quarter them and slice them into thickish pieces.
  3. Toss the pieces with the sugar, cinnamon and rum and set aside while you prepare the batter.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar, until they are light and fluffy, then add the eggs and beat them in well.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and slowly mix or fold until everything is well combined. The batter will be very thick.
  6. Scrape 2 thirds of the batter into the greased cake tin, and spread it evenly over the base (it will seem like there's not enough, but there is).
  7. Scatter the apples evenly over the cake mix, and then dollop over the remaining batter in a haphazard way. If some apple pokes out, that's great. Scatter over the chopped almonds and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out without any raw batter clinging to it.
  8. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes in the tin, before carefully unmolding it and scattering over a little sugar to decorate. This is best served warm.



  1. Gosh YUM!!!! I am looking for recipe with alot of apples.
    This is a Perfect tea cake, I may not be able to travel to Paris but at least I can have cake.

  2. JEEEEEEZ this sounds ridiculous and perfect and please feed it to me now.

  3. Your recipes seriously, BLOW MY MIND! This looks incredible!

  4. normandy is also famous for their butter. butter and apples… basically you got this cake perfect. i wanna venture to normandy RIGHT NOW to try and find it!

  5. Yum!! This looks amazing. Love the delicious chunks of apple and i’m sure the rum gives it the most fragrant aroma! kudos to you for recreating it – you have quite a memory!!

  6. Will surely be saving this one for apple time come this fall! Love the background story of it too!

    • It’s Fall in Australia right now! COME ON DOWN!

  7. Wow!! I am so in love with this! I am going to try a gluten free version!

    • I think it would adapt to a gluten free flour WONDERFULLY! I totally recommend the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free blend for this, I’ve used it in similar recipes with great results.

  8. I think I’ve had an apple cake a bit like this before, but not with rum. Looks like you did a great job here creating this from memory. I’m impressed!

  9. OH my god you seriously make the best looking pastries!!! Okay also I’m going to France in about a week (EEEEEE!!!!!!) so this is so relevant! I had no idea Normandy was famous for their apples!! I am so excited to go eat an apple tart from Poilane, you have no idea. Can you recreate that next? ;)

    On the subject of re-creating mysterious recipes, how did you even go about developing the recipe for this?? There is this amazing cherry pancake recipe that I died over in Wisconsin but I just don’t even know where to start!! *cry*

    Anyhoo, BEAUTIFUL photos as usual! x

    • DUDE! I’m so jealous of you travelling! I would love to make a Poilane apple tart, but that has nothing on actually eating one! RE: how I recreated the recipe, I’m afraid the answer is a bit boring – trial and error. I write down a detailed description of how I remembered it tasting, did A LOT of research into various apple cakes from France, Normandy, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, The Alsace Region…and then I mucked around with it. It was the rum that was the secret ingredient, once I got the texture right.

      • Oh man I admire your patience. Major props! And I’ll take lots of taste-ural notes on the tart for your future recipe development ;)

  10. Yum, I love appley cakes. Pinning for apple season. Btw I’m now on the hunt for calvados, it sounds perfect for apply creations.

    • Absolutely! And like, a ridiculously delicious drink!

  11. I went to France when I was 15 too. It’s a bit nearer for us though :)
    I also love apple cake! Who’d a thought it.
    Yours looks delightful m’dear.

  12. This is like the super cool. effortlessly sexy french cousin of the american apple pie. looks lovely.

    • I love this description!

  13. Wow, what a gorgeous cake! Beautiful photography as well!

  14. My 15-year old self is jealous of your 15-year old self–that sounds like an amazing trip! How awesome that you figured out a way to recreate and relive those memories–this cake looks fantastic!

  15. Looks wonderful!
    I am going to make this for my office.
    Is it possible to get the recipe for the white sauce you have drizzled on top of the cake slice? thank you in advance! Can’t wait…..they will just love it…..and ME!!!

    • Hi Bea – that’s great! That was just a drizzle of thick cream on top of the cake – a wonderful accompaniment!

  16. What is the sauce you’ve poured over the cake? is there a recipe for that?

    • Hi Natalie – that’s just a drizzle of thick cream on top of the cake.

  17. Hi Sarah
    Baked this cake and i had to tell you it was delicious!!!
    Thank you for sharing yours recipes.
    Linda X

    • That’s awesome! Thank you so much for trying it Linda!

  18. Hi Sarah,

    I tried out this recipe, and followed to the tee! The cake is amazing, really tasty! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

    P.s. I didn’t have almond or rum in hand, so substituted with brandy and Pecan & Walnuts.

    • Love that twist! Pecans, walnuts and brandy – delish! So glad you liked the recipe!

  19. Made this cake for my mom’s birthday and she loved it, great recipe!

    • That’s awesome! I’m so glad you made it and she loved it! xx

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Popular Posts!

Chipotle Pulled Pork Tacos

Get the recipe for these spicy, zingy, crunchy, tasty tacos here!

The Sugar Hit BOOK!

The Sugar Hit! by Sarah Coates

Buy The Sugar Hit! book - out now! Full of fun, ridiculous, bonkers treats for everything from breakfast through to midnight snacks!



The Remarkables Group Member Sarah Coates