The heat wave in California did a number on my fall spirit, so I’m taking matters into my own hands and doing some serious baking with apples. It never fails to get me in the mood, and nothing beats a kitchen filled with the warm scent of apples and cinnamon. This is an authentic old fashioned Irish apple cake, the kind that would be made throughout the apple harvest season all over Ireland, where every farmhouse has its own prized version of the recipe. This particular one is mildly spiced with an inner core of thinly sliced tart apples, topped with an crumbly oat streusel. Tradition dictates serving it with some thick cream, or a luscious custard sauce.
I usually use Granny Smith apples for baking because I like their tartness and that they don’t get mushy in the oven. The one negative I’ve found is that they aren’t as juicy as some other varieties. Experiment with other types, if you want, you can’t really go wrong here. You’ll need about 3 good sized sized apples.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 Tbsp milk or cream
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp salt
- about 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
- confectioner's sugar for dusting
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 6 Tbsp unsalted cold butter, cut in small pieces
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- 6 Tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 C. whole milk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Set the oven to 350F
- Make the custard sauce ahead of time. Bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile whisk the yolks and sugar until pale. Drizzle a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking all the time. Drizzle a little more, then transfer that back into the pan of hot milk and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Don't overcook or it can curdle. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate the custard sauce until needed.
- To make the streusel topping, blend the bits of butter into the flour, sugar, and oats until the butter is incorporated and the mixture has a coarse crumbly texture. Put in the refrigerator.
- To make the cake, grease a 9 inch round spring form pan.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture, along with the milk or cream.
- Spoon the batter in to the pan, and smooth out evenly. Top with the sliced apples, and then the streusel topping.
- Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out without wet batter clinging to it.
- Let cool a bit in the pan before removing. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.
Cake recipe adapted from Irish Pub Cooking, Parragon Books.
Custard Sauce from The Kitchen McCabe
The custard sauce keeps well in the fridge, and can be served warm or cold. The cake, however, is especially fabulous warm from the oven.