French Apple Cake(Cook's Illustrated)

Total Time
1hr 39mins
Prep 30 mins
Cook 1 hr 9 mins

The microwaved apples should be pliable but not completely soft when cooked. To test for doneness, take one apple slice and try to bend it. If it snaps in half, it’s too firm; microwave it for an additional 30 seconds and test again. If Calvados is unavailable, 1 tablespoon of apple brandy or white rum can be substituted. I have not made this yet, but with the too oily review, I went on line and looked at others who have made this and what they said. Some of them have also had this same problem, but note some had also changed to 2% milk. This might have also affected the batter. Other say they did not have this problem. One advised this might been because he had gotten the oil to emulsified into the batter using an immersion blender. They bakers with the too oily cakes advised they will cut down the oil to 1/2 cup add 1/2 cup apple sauce if they make again. Note this is more cutard like then a normal American cake texture.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Place prepared pan on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place apple slices into microwave-safe pie plate, cover, and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Toss apple slices with Calvados and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.
  2. 2. Whisk 1 cup flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk egg, oil, milk, and vanilla together in second bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer 1 cup batter to separate bowl and set aside.
  3. 3. Add egg yolks to remaining batter and whisk to combine. Using spatula, gently fold in cooled apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing on apples to create even, compact layer, and smooth surface.
  4. 4. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons flour into reserved batter. Pour over batter in pan and spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly over cake.
  5. 5. Bake until center of cake is set, toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and top is golden brown, about 1 1/4 hours. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar, cut into wedges, and serve.
Most Helpful

I regret not reading these reviews before I attempted the recipe on the Cooks Illustrated site. What a huge disappointment and waste of perfectly good apples. Oily, oily, oily. Shame on Cooks Illustrated.

Tami K. January 11, 2014

First let me say that when I try a new recipe I follow it to the letter, otherwise if it doesn't turn out, one has no justification to complain. I did follow this recipe exactly, including using all the specified ingredients, including Crisco Oil, which cook's rated #1. My results were as the reviewer, patandjimg, has already stated, oily, flavorless cake?. This cake is so oily that I found it nauseating; admittedly I am over sensitive to oil and grease. Quite frankly, the flavor was bland and lacked any hearty apple flavor. As my wife stated, in the length of time it took you to do this cake you could have turned out one of your wonderful apple strudels. This recipe needs a lot of work, so much so I would just toss it out and start over from scratch. Shame on Cooks I expected a lot more from them.

rwomackintx_7926784 October 15, 2013

Oily, flavorless cake, no discernible custard/cake layers. Only changes I made to the recipe were using Honeycrisp apples, since I have a treeful of them, and using brandy instead of whatever booze they called for.I can't imagine 1 T. of that would improve the flavor that dramatically. The Honeycrisps were fine. Followed the directions to the letter. First recipe I've ever used from Cooks Illustrated that was a flop.

patandjimg_12112378 October 07, 2013