Most of the time, I love the idea of apples more than I love the actual apples themselves. They’ve never been one of my favorite fruits. It’s what they represent – cool, crisp Autumn days, the heady aroma of cinnamon and spice wafting through the house from a baking pie and the promise of impending holiday celebrations – that get my juices flowing. While I don’t often eat apples out of hand, I can never resist plucking a few shiny, red and green orbs from the overflowing bins at the market. They’re pretty. I like to display them in a basket on my kitchen table. And, when they start to look a little sad, I usually bake something with them. Baking transforms apples into something I enjoy much, much more, like Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake from Dorie’s  Around My French Table .
Marie-Hélène is a friend of Dorie’s from Paris. If her apple cake is anything to go on, I think that Marie-Hélène and I could definitely be BFF’s. This cake is unbelievably simple to make. It can be pulled together in mere minutes – without a Kitchenaid. But, the end result is sublime. Piles of tart and sweet apple chunks are blended into eggs, flour and melted butter, then laced with pure vanilla and dark rum. As it bakes, the fragrance of those lovely ingredients melding together will make you swoon. You will almost not be able to contain yourself as you take that first sweet, moist, lush bite.
The texture of this apple cake is not like any other I’ve had before. The ratio of apples to cake is very high. There was an astonishingly small amount of cake holding all of those apples together. To me, it seemed more like a crustless deep dish pie than a cake, although that wasn’t a bad thing at all – just different. I wondered if this was how it is supposed to be? I don’t know. Maybe French apples are smaller than ours here, but my cake was literally overflowing with apple chunks. And, I only used the four that were called for.
Whatever. Be it a cake, or a pie masquerading as a cake, it was fabulous, people! You really must try this one.
The recipe can be found in Around My French Table . If you don’t have the book yet, (and you should), it can also be found on the Epicurious  site. And, don’t forget to stop by the French Fridays with Dorie  site to see a lot more of Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake.