Gluten-Free French Apple Cake

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This gluten free French Apple Cake may just be my favorite cake of all time. It’s like apple pie, but without all the struggle of a crust. Serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, or a dollop of ice cream

French Apple Cake

My French Connection

J’adore le pays de France. There is a simplistic beauty about the “paysage” or French coutryside. This simple French apple cake embodies the rustic glory of the small towns there. It brings to mind “les petits villages” outside the walls of d’Avignon and the family vineyards of the Champagne region.

A little known fact about me. I almost moved to France. Well, for a temporary stay. I took three years of French in high school and minored in the language in college at Central Michigan University. After graduating, I had submitted my paperwork to move to France to teach English.

It was going to be the bravest thing I had ever done. Then my dad had back surgery, and I became reacquainted with an old friend. (Whom I had met in French class in college.) Now he’s my husband and I am so thankful that I never left his side. Yet, there’s a part of me that longs to return to the land of Degas, Hugo and Bizet.

My First Acquaintance with French Apple Cake

This is why I say “grace a dieu” for David Lebovitz. He’s an American ex-pat who lives in Paris. He shares the daily beauty of French life through his Instagram account. This is how I first became acquainted with this French Apple Cake. It seems so fitting that he shared this recipe from his friend Dorie Greenspan, who shared it from her friend Marie-Helene.

I first made this French Apple Cake and wrote about it years ago. At that time, I went with a recipe that was strictly gluten-free. Not Ms. Greenspan’s. When deciding to make this again, I decided to follow the recipe which originally inspired me. This time I used the Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour Blend. It can be pricey. However it really does work fantastic in any regular wheat-based flour recipe. It makes FABULOUS gluten free biscuits.

French apple cake

How Much Flour Do You Use? A Note About Cup4Cup Multipurpose Gluten Free Flour

This recipe calls for only 3/4 cup of flour. However, I often receive questions from confused readers asking how much flour they are supposed to use. This is because I use Cup4Cup brand flour. This recipe does NOT use 4 cups of flour. Only 3/4 c. of flour.

Can I Use a Different Gluten Free Flour Blend?

This recipe is fairly forgiving. When I made this, I simply substituted a gluten free flour blend. I believe I’ve made this with King Arthur Measure for Measure as well. If you need a grain free cake, Mama Gourmand offers a Almond Flour Apple Cake. (Her recipe does use cornstarch. She says an equal amount of coconut flour can be substituted.)

I Don’t Drink Alcohol. Can I Leave Out the Rum?

I did make one or two small deviations from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe. Her recipe called for Dark Rum. Now, we rarely drink in our house. However, I had a small bottle of Bacardi white rum.

The difference between white vs. dark rum? Dark rum has hints of caramel. Therefore, I substituted part of the white sugar Dorie calls for with brown sugar. I also only used 2 tablespoons of rum versus the 3 for which she called.

French Apple Cake

Can I Make This Without Butter? Eggs?

This recipe contains dairy and eggs, and the Cup4Cup flour blend I use contains milk powder. If you need a vegan option, use a different gluten free flour blend such as King Arthur Measure for Measure. 

If you’re looking for a vegan recipe, Strength and Sunshine offers an egg free French Apple Cake that uses flax and water as a substitute for eggs. Her recipe also calls for vegan butter. I assume that you can use butter if you don’t have to avoid dairy.

What Apples Do You Use in Your French Apple Cake?

I know that there are various thoughts on which apples are best for baking. I generally buy Gala apples, because that’s what I like to eat. Therefore it’s what I often use in recipes. Betty Crocker suggests Golden Delicious or Pink Lady for cakes. I advise to NOT use Red Delicious, because they don’t hold up well.

Other Gluten Free Apple Recipes You May Enjoy

Looking for more apple based recipe? Try my small batch gluten free applesauce bundt cake, gluten free apple spice pancakes, mini grain free apple cheesecakes, or my gluten free and oat free apple crisp for two. Or use my never fail gluten free crescent dough to make gluten free apple dumplings.

The Finished Product

It is suggested that this cake be served warm with a dollop of gelato or ice cream. I gave mine just the faintest dusting of powdered sugar. Truly this cake doesn’t really need much more than that. The texture is a cross between a firm pie and a very moist cake.

Finally, I pass on to you what Dorie and David were so gracious to pass on to their readers. I hope this simple dessert brings as much joy to your pallet as it does to mine. In addition, I pray that you are able to share this French Apple Cake with those you enjoy, lingering in each other’s presence. May we all take moments in our lives to place people over to-do lists and slow down enough to taste life in all its flavors. Bon appetit.

French Apple Cake

Gluten-Free French Apple Cake


  • 3/4 c. “Cup4Cup” brand Gluten Free Flour Blend
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 8 tbsp butter melted and cooled
  • 4 large apples – peeled cored & cut into 1″ pieces (variety)
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. white rum optional
  • 1/2 tsp. LorAnn Vanilla Extract


  • In small bowl, melt butter and set aside to cool. 
  • Peel, core and cut apples (preferably a variety of 4 types) into 1" chunks.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter the bottom of an 8" springform pan. Place on baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat underneath. 
  • In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. 
  • In a medium / large bowl, whisk eggs until foamy. Add white and brown sugars and whisk until fully incorporated. Next, whisk in rum and vanilla. 
  • In alternating portions, whisk in flour blend and melted butter. Repeat until all ingredients are mixed together. 
  • Add apple chunks and use rubber scraper to stir them and coat liberally with the batter. Pour batter into greased springform pan and bake 50-60 minutes. 
  • Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, or ice cream.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. Pingback: Gluten Free Apple Cake (Dairy Free)
  2. Coming from a chocolate gal, this is hands down one of my favorite fall recipes! I’ve not made it with rum but I have made it in a Bundt pan which gives it a delicious crisp edge. Even better, it’s easy to make!

    1. Thanks so much for your review! Love your idea of baking it in a bundt pan! This is great feedback for those who may not have a springform pan. I always appreciate when people share successful tweaks they’ve made, which can help others.

  3. Do you use LorAnn for a particular reason in this recipe (I’m more familiar with their oils) or is it just a typical vanilla extract but the one you prefer?
    I think you’ve mentioned before that you only use unsalted butter for baking, but is that the case in this recipe as well?

    1. LorAnn is one that I prefer, as it is a Michigan company. That being said, i’ve bought other vanilla extracts as well. You can use any vanilla extract that you like.
      And yes, this recipe uses unsalted butter. I can’t remember the last time i bought salted butter.
      I simply don’t use is it in my house.

  4. Since I have Celiac, I am the designated gf baker for our church events. Last year made this with Calvados for one of our church Christmas bazaars and divided it in 3 or 4 smallish pans. They sold 5 minutes after opening! The Calvados was amazing!!

  5. This was so easy and yummy! Thanks for the recipe. For those wondering, I didn’t add the rum and didn’t replace it with anything else. I did add a splash more of vanilla though, as I usually do when baking. Also added a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to my flour mix for more of a fall/spice cake vibe!

  6. Hi Margaret! I’m only a GF peach cobbler baker! Lol! But I saw this I’m dying to try it! 2 questions do I have to use cup 4 cup flour and I only cook with Splenda or Equal I haven’t had white sugar in my house in over 25 years. I do make my sweet potato pies with Splenda???? Thanks Margaret!

    1. I have no experience baking with alternative sweeteners, so I can’t say how this would turn out. The recipe should work with a different gluten free flour blend (NOT straight coconut or almond flour.) I would recommend looking on the internet for a apple cake already made with alternative sweeteners. There is an apple spice cake recipe on the Splenda website. I would recommend subbing the 1 cup all purpose flour and the 1 cup whole wheat flour with a gluten free flour blend.

  7. This was the first gluten free baked good I made after my son was diagnosed last year. It was the moment I was like “OK, I got this. We’re OK.” Thank you!

  8. I have a friend who cannot tolerate gluten, so I’m thrilled to find your recipe. She also cannot have dairy, eggs, or soy (sometimes used as a substitute for dairy or eggs). Do you have any suggestions about how to further modify your recipe? What are your thoughts about making it with oil instead of butter and tapioca flour instead of eggs? One cup of oil seems like an awful lot, though.

    1. If your friend cannot have dairy or soy, I honestly suggest looking for a different recipe already written without those ingredients. I would not recommend using my reipe and then altering the ingredients, because I can not guarantee how the recipe will turn out. This recipe for Gluten Free Vegan Apple Cake by Rhian’s Recipes would be better suited for your friends dietary restrictions.

  9. Thank you for this recipe, its now in my book of favourites everyone loves. I gave it an extra zing by grating orange rind into the white sugar, rubbing it together, to release fragrant oil. I left it sit till I had assembled everything else. It was just a hint of orange, but they all noticed a something at the end.

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