Bake

Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake From Dorie Greenspan

February  7, 2020
27 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Greenspan is emphatic that you choose four different kinds of apple, since they each behave differently when baked. Some sweeten and collapse; some stay structural and tart. They do all the work of making the cake interesting, without a crumble, or nuts, or even cinnamon. This also means that the cake stands to come out a little bit different every time. If that makes you nervous, you could make a note of the apple varieties that work best for you, but know that apples cobbled together with gently boozed up, custardy cake are going to be well received, no matter what. Serve the cake alone, or with soft whipped cream. Greenspan says “Marie-Hélène served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.”

Reprinted with permission from Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Photographs copyright © 2015 by James Ransom. —Genius Recipes

Watch This Recipe
Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake From Dorie Greenspan
  • Prep time 35 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 8
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can, choose four different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Center a rack in the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Generously butter an 8-inch (20cm) springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.
  3. Peel the apples, cut them in halves and remove the cores. Cut into 1- to 2-inch (2.5 to 5cm) chunks.
  4. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour mixture and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour mixture and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.
  5. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or waxed paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.
  7. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, and will keep for about 2 days at room temperature. Greenspan’s husband says it gets more comforting with each passing day. However long you keep the cake, it’s best not to cover it—it’s too moist. Leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

45 Reviews

NXL November 3, 2020
My husband baked this for my birthday and we LOVED it! Chock full of apples. Used 4 different apples, and per the video suggestion, did not peel them. Our pan was 7-inch, so it took a good hour and a half to bake. Love the rum flavor. This felt like a celebration!
 
1958Jarcy October 31, 2020
Absolutely EVERYONE loves this cake! It’s a terrific option for breakfast, a snack, dinner with the addition of whipped or ice cream - or just as is. Using a variety of apples, rather then one type, makes every bite just a bit different. Substituting different liquors provides a variety of subtlety to the end product. Cut down on the sugar, if its a bit too sweet for your liking - but this recipe needs no enhancements.
 
roryrabbitfield October 26, 2020
I used pears and apples, it was delicious. I think the pears sorta dissolve a bit. I loved the cake as written, but if I make it again I will reduce/remove the rum. I will also add chocolate chunks. This cake is pretty similar to the pear-chocolate cake (https://smittenkitchen.com/2009/01/bittersweet-chocolate-and-pear-cake/) they serve at Al di La restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn, but easier.
 
Therese October 21, 2020
I used 95g of sugar and 100g of butter and it was still super sweet. I still got a caramel crunchy top crust. It’s still good just not to my taste.
 
Therese October 21, 2020
I used 95g of sugar and 100g of butter and it was still super sweet. I still got a caramel crunchy top crust. It’s still good just not to my taste.
 
Therese October 21, 2020
I used 95g of sugar and 100g of butter and it was still super sweet. I still got a caramel crunchy top crust. It’s still good just not to my taste.
 
Therese October 21, 2020
I used 95g of sugar and 100g of butter and it was still super sweet. I still got a caramel crunchy top crust. It’s still good just not to my taste.
 
alisonia October 13, 2020
I made this as directed, but reduced rum to 2 T, instead of 3. I found it to be much too sweet. I didn’t really care for the rum flavor, but without the rum the cake would be overly sweet and tasteless. The cake batter has a thin, not rich taste, and I don’t believe that using 4 different apples made for something special. I won’t make this again. Another reviewer suggested Doris Greenspan’s custardy Apple squares, so I’ll try that next.
 
Sean P. September 16, 2020
This is a perfect cake. I enjoy the texture and flavors so much, I've shared the recipe with everyone and told them THIS is the cake they have to make this fall.

Thanks for sharing.
 
witloof May 25, 2020
Two things: I made this cake last October with greenmarket apples and it was stupendously delicious. I made it to serve a VIP for Saturday dinner but wound up having to make a second one when most of the first one got devoured by a houseguest on Friday night. {With my blessing, it was so much fun to watch him eat it!}
Second thing: clicking the X on the ads obscuring the text does not make them go away, it navigates the user away from Food52 to the advertiser's website.
 
Leli S. April 27, 2020
Very, very good. Used different kinds of apples, and a pear. Cut them into ½ inch pieces (glad I watched the recent video and read the comments - 1-2 inch pieces would have been too chunky). Baked in an 8-inch round cake tin. Melted a little bit of extra butter with the 1/2 cup in the recipe to brush on the inside of the tin, and then dusted with flour. Took about 60 minutes to bake - didn’t brown on top until the end. Needed to cool quite a bit to invert out of the tin. Next time I will decrease the rum to 2 Tbsps, and use two pears and two apples. The pears truly melt into the batter. I agree with other reviewers that this recipe could be customized with many spice combinations. I’m also wondering about rhubarb.... hmmm. Thanks Dorie Greenspan and Food 52!
 
Jessb_it May 18, 2020
Where’s the video for this cake?
 
Leli S. July 6, 2020
I found it on the the Food52 Instagram videos, by Samantha Seneviratne.
 
Valerie S. July 24, 2020
Do you know about what date? And is it IG stories or a post? What does the post look like?
 
lugubres September 23, 2020
I found on Facebook dated April 19, 2020 https://www.facebook.com/food52/videos/883054348789076
 
Leli S. April 27, 2020
Very, very good. Used different kinds of apples, and a pear. Cut them into ½ inch pieces (glad I watched the recent video and read the comments - 1-2 inch pieces would have been too chunky). Baked in an 8-inch round cake tin. Melted a little bit of extra butter with the 1/2 cup in the recipe to brush on the inside of the tin, and then dusted with flour. Took about 60 minutes to bake - didn’t brown on top until the end. Needed to cool quite a bit to invert out of the tin. Next time I will decrease the rum to 2 Tbsps, and use two pears and two apples. The pears truly melt into the batter. I agree with other reviewers that this recipe could be customized with many spice combinations. I’m also wondering about rhubarb.... hmmm. Thanks Dorie Greenspan and Food 52!
 
Leli S. April 27, 2020
Very, very good. Used different kinds of apples, and a pear. Cut them into ½ inch pieces (glad I watched the recent video and read the comments - 1-2 inch pieces would have been too chunky). Baked in an 8-inch round cake tin. Melted a little bit of extra butter with the 1/2 cup in the recipe to brush on the inside of the tin, and then dusted with flour. Took about 60 minutes to bake - didn’t brown on top until the end. Needed to cool quite a bit to invert out of the tin. Next time I will decrease the rum to 2 Tbsps, and use two pears and two apples. The pears truly melt into the batter. I agree with other reviewers that this recipe could be customized with many spice combinations. I’m also wondering about rhubarb.... hmmm. Thanks Dorie Greenspan and Food 52!
 
Ashley April 24, 2020
Good but I'm wondering if 1 to 2 inch chunks for the apples is a typo. I did 1 inch chunks and they were wayyyy too big - there's not nearly enough batter to make it look like a cohesive mass. Mine just kind of looks like baked apples with a tiny bit of dough sprinkled around it, nothing like the photo. Also looking at the photo as well as the food52 video on instagram (which I unfortunately didn't see until after the cake was baking), the chunks look more like 1 cm chunks.

This first try was like a 3/5, I am still intrigued enough by it that I plan to give it another go and make the chunks much smaller. I was debating this as I was making it because of the photo but then figured I'd follow the recipe as written the first time, I wish I had gone w my gut!
 
Ashley April 24, 2020
Good but I'm wondering if 1 to 2 inch chunks for the apples is a typo. I did 1 inch chunks and they were wayyyy too big - there's not nearly enough batter to make it look like a cohesive mass. Mine just kind of looks like baked apples with a tiny bit of dough sprinkled around it, nothing like the photo. Also looking at the photo as well as the food52 video on instagram (which I unfortunately didn't see until after the cake was baking), the chunks look more like 1 cm chunks.

This first try was like a 3/5, I am still intrigued enough by it that I plan to give it another go and make the chunks much smaller. I was debating this as I was making it because of the photo but then figured I'd follow the recipe as written the first time, I wish I had gone w my gut!
 
abevrob12 May 17, 2020
I actually measured a couple of pieces and followed the recipe, perhaps your oven? Everyone knows their respective ovens and I do like a somewhat crunchier texture, nevertheless, it was a gorgeous recipe and am doing it now, as I write this. Do what makes you comfortable.
 
WHB April 23, 2020
Tried this tonight. A nice cake, but my family preferred Dorie's "Custardy Apple Squares" on this site.
 
shelby April 17, 2020
I think Calvados would be yum!
 
ctgal April 16, 2020
Has anyone made it with gluten free flour, and, if so, what kind did you use? I have a bunch of apples that need to be used, asap.
 
Kathy April 21, 2020
Made it today with King Arthur's Gluten free Measure for Measure blend. It worked great. My non gf husband liked it too.
 
Ale April 22, 2020
Did you try with gf flour? Which one?
 
Kathy April 22, 2020
I made it with "King Arthur's brand Gluten free 'Measure for Measure' flour blend". I just had some of the cake with breakfast. Yum!!
 
ellen C. April 15, 2020
It sounds delicious, but can it be made in a pan other than the spring form?
 
Julie April 19, 2020
I made it in a well buttered 9-in quiche dish, and it worked great! I did bake it a few extra minutes, but it was delicious and easy to get out of the dish (after the first slightly mangled slice).
 
Karen May 22, 2020
I have baked in a regular cake pan. After it cools, I go around edge with a butter knife - then I put a piece of parchment or wax paper over the cake - then a cooling rack turn out onto rack - put plate on top and flip over. Haven't had an incident yet!
 
bekoz March 3, 2020
I made this lovely cake last night, got rave reviews from guests. Didn’t have any rum so used sweet Marsala instead. Also sprinkled sliced almonds on top and light dusting of cinnamon