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This is a wonderful, little-black-dress type of dessert.  Everyone should have this in their repertoire.  It goes together quickly, it’s comfort-food delicious, it keeps and it’s more than a dessert.  It’s damn fine for breakfast!  A version of this came up on FaceBook, as I was perusing that waste of time.  But, it is my time to waste, isn’t it?  Anyway, I took a look at the recipe, then I cruised the “Inter-Webs” and found a number of very similar versions.  This is closest to David Lebovitz’s version.  But, his wasn’t quite where I wanted to be, either.  So, surprise! surprise!…I decided to use his recipe as a jumping off point, and come up with my own.  His “cake” part, is very similar to one of my mother’s recipes; hers uses some sour cream.  So, I went with that.  I’ve been pondering an almond cake ever since we visited Portugal.  And apples and almonds together are such simpatico flavors, so that’s what I wanted for our cake.  So, I replaced part of the flour with almond meal and tossed some sliced almonds on top, with some of that nice, crunchy, crystallized sugar.  I used brandy, instead of rum.  And this is the result.  The Latin Lover, really liked it and that’s the ballgame right there.  It’s a keeper, for us.

A couple of things—

  • I like to use a variety of apples.  We’re looking to balance the flavor.  I do this with pies or anything where your going to have a quantity.  It makes for a far more interesting flavor.  I used a Granny Smith, a Pink Lady and a Braeburn.  Also, I cut the apples into small-ish chunks, slightly less than 1/2-inch.  By the by, my favorite combo is Northern Spy, Cortland and Jonathan, but alas, those are not available to me here.  Those are more Northern apples.
  • It appears that most French apple cakes are really all about the apples, and this one is too.  Up to a point.  See that word “cake”…well, I wanted there to be some cake, but this cake is very moist and quite dense.  But, not unpleasantly so.  I mention this, because I don’t want you to think that you did something wrong.  You didn’t.
  • This is a terrific little dessert, as is.  But, feel free to add some lemon or orange zest.  And spice…but remember, more is less with this cake…this is all about the apples.  I limit spice to no more than 1/2 teaspoon, maybe even 1/4.  If you want a hint of cinnamon, combine some with the powdered sugar and sprinkle over the cake before serving.  What you’re looking for is a mere whisper of spice.
  • This cakes keeps for several days, loosely covered, at room temperature.  But, the almond slices will soften and the sugar crystals do melt a bit.  But, the flavor is still very nice.

This is a one-bowl…okay, a two-bowl recipe.  If you’re careful, the “flour bowl” can just be wiped clean, but admittedly, that’s a bit too lazy, even for me!  Anyway, dry ingredients and apples in one bowl, and wet ingredients in another bowl.  No mixer.  Just a whisk and a spatula…and a pan, of course.

French Apple-Almond Cake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy as Cake
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This is a lovely little number to have in your repertoire, as it can be put together at a moment’s notice.  It is not too sweet and is lovely at breakfast, as well.

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup almond flour (or very, very finely ground almonds)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (about two large pinches)
  • 3-4 large apples, peeled and cored (I use a variety)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (see NOTE)
  • 8 tablespoons melted butter, cooled to room temperature
  • 2-3 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • Coarse sugar
  • Powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • Spices and/or grated zest(s), optional (see NOTE)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF; adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.  Heavily butter an 8- or 9-inch spring-form pan.  You might want to place the pan on a baking sheet or wrap it in foil.  I don’t because I’ve never had it leak.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt.  If you are using spices or zests, add them with the dry ingredients.

Peel and core the apples, then dice them into 1/2-inch pieces.  Add to the dry ingredients; give them a stir to coat the apples with the flour.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy; whisk in the sugar, sour cream, brandy,  vanilla and the melted butter. Whisk the mixture very well.

Fold in the flour/apple mixture until the batter comes together; scrape into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle the sliced almonds evenly over the top and give the cake a nice sprinkle of coarse (or regular sugar).

Bake the cake for 50-65 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let the cake cool for 5-10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan; you don’t want any apples to be stuck to the edge.  Carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, or invert onto a plate, then reinvert, so the almond covered top, is up!  When cool, dust lightly with powdered sugar.

I like to serve this cake at room temperature or even a bit warm.  It’s lovely with just a sprinkle of powdered sugar, but whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche is a nice addition, too..

Store, on the counter, loosely covered with plastic wrap or a cake dome, for up to three days.

NOTE:  This cake is delicious as is, but if the spirit moves you, add the grated zest of a lemon or orange.  Also, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, allspice, OR cardamom can be added to the flour.  In this case, less is more.

French Apple-Almond Cake Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020.  All rights reserved.

I’ve been thinking this might be good with pears or peaches…I’ll keep you posted.