Invisible Apple Cake (Gâteau Invisible Aux Pommes)

published Nov 11, 2023
Invisible Apple Cake Recipe

This stunning French dessert with layers of thinly sliced apples in a custard-like batter will disappear in minutes.

Serves8

Makes1 (9x5-inch) loaf

Prep20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes

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Overhead view of two slices and half of an uncut apple cake on a white surface with almonds scattered on the surface.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Kelli Foster

If I’m having people over for dinner and want to wow my guests, I tend to pull out all the stops — from making cocktails to order to whipping up an impressive dessert. Invisible apple cake, or gâteau invisible aux pommes, is the deceptively easy yet visually stunning dessert I always have up my sleeve. 

Composed of mostly fruit, this lightly sweet cake features layers upon layers of thinly sliced apples bound in a custardy batter. I like to serve thick slices of the cake on top of a puddle of caramel sauce and then finish it with a scoop of ice cream if I’m feeling especially decadent. 

What Is Invisible Apple Cake?

Invisible apple cake, or gâteau invisible aux pommes, hails from France. Despite its origins, it’s immensely popular in Japan. The dessert is made up of two elements — apples and custard — which are layered together in a loaf pan. The apples are sliced so thinly that they appear to disappear into the cake once baked, hence its name. 

This stunning cake shares similar characteristics with a clafoutis (another French dessert), which consists of fruit suspended in a custard-like batter. However, invisible apple cake calls for a much higher ratio of fruit-to-custard than a clafloutis. (French apple cake, on the other hand, nestles chunks of apples in a rum-based batter and bakes the cake in a round pan).

Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Kelli Foster

If You’re Making Invisible Apple Cake, a Few Tips

  • Layering the apples ensures neat slices. I like to add one-third of the batter to the loaf pan at a time, so that I can make sure all the apples are lying flat in the pan. This helps deliver a uniform-looking cake with minimal pockets of air. When it’s time to arrange the final third, I take the time to shingle the apples on top, which will make it look more stunning when baked. 
  • You can substitute the half-and-half. If you don’t keep half-and-half around, you can also use equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. 
  • Use a serrated knife to cut the cake. A serrated knife will cut through the thinly sliced apples much cleaner and easier, and it won’t compress the cake. 
  • Vary your topping options. While it’s traditional to serve slices with caramel sauce, you can also top with whipped cream or ice cream if you like. 
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Kelli Foster

Invisible Apple Cake Recipe

This stunning French dessert with layers of thinly sliced apples in a custard-like batter will disappear in minutes.

Prep time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes

Makes1 (9x5-inch) loaf

Serves8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 2 pounds

    Fuji, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady apples (about 3 large or 4 medium), or a combination

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1. 1/2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup

    half-and-half

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    sliced almonds (optional)

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

  • Store-bought or homemade caramel sauce, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375ºF. Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom and 2 long sides of the pan with a sheet of parchment paper that extends past the sides by a few inches to form a sling.

  2. Peel 2 pounds Fuji, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady apples. Halve and core the apples, then cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices and place in a medium bowl.

  3. Place 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Place 1/2 cup half-and-half, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a liquid measuring cup and whisk until combined.

  4. Place 3 large eggs and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until pale and glossy, about 90 seconds. Add half of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined and no visible flour remains, about 10 seconds. Add the half-and-half mixture and beat until just combined, about 10 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined and no visible flour remains, about 10 seconds.

  5. Add the apple slices, making sure to separate the slices as you add them. Using a flexible spatula, fold the apples into the batter until evenly coated. Transfer about 1/3 of the apple mixture to the loaf pan. Arrange the slices so that they lie flat in the pan, then press the apples down to evenly distribute. Repeat with half of the remaining apple mixture.

  6. Arrange the remaining apple mixture in a shingled pattern on top, then press the apples down to evenly distribute. Pour any remaining batter evenly over the apples. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sliced almonds over the top if desired.

  7. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until top is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center meets little resistance and comes out clean, 65 to 70 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour.

  8. Run a small offset spatula or thin knife around the edges of the cake to loosen, then grasp the excess parchment and lift the cake out of the pan and onto the wire rack. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. Dust the top with powdered sugar if desired. Slice with a serrated knife and serve with caramel sauce if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. They can be eaten cold straight from the fridge or warmed up in a microwave.

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