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. 

Irish Apple Cake is the classic fall coffeecake!

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 particular apple cake recipe 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.

Granny Smith Apples

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.

Irish Apple Cale

Craving more apples?  Try my Maple Frosted Apple Blondies, or my Spiced Apple Cake!

Irish Apple Cake

Irish Apple Cake


  • 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
    streusel topping
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup sugar
    custard sauce
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 C. whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla


  1. Set the oven to 350F
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. To make the cake, grease a 9 inch round spring form pan.
  5. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  6. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture, along with the milk or cream.
  7. Spoon the batter in to the pan, and smooth out evenly. Top with the sliced apples, and then the streusel topping.
  8. 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.
  9. Let cool a bit in the pan before removing. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.


  •  This is a not-too-sweet cake in the European tradition, perfect with a cup of coffee or tea in the morning or mid afternoon.

Irish Apple Cake with Custard Sauce

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.

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35 Responses to Irish Apple Cake

  1. Cathie Kozachenko says:

    Do you serve the custard cold? Can it be served warm? How would you warm it? Love the cake. The custard I’d eat every day for the rest of my days ;)

    • Sue says:

      I think it’s usually served cold, but you could warm it briefly in the microwave and that would be amazing.

      • Victoria says:

        When I lived in the United Kingdom custard was served warm over desserts such as this. Super yummy! Can’t wait to make this for Saint Davids day ( I married a welsh man) haha

        • Jack says:

          As a child I always had Birds Eye custard served warm over this kind of dessert, made, of course with full cream milk. Absolutely delicious.

  2. Jovana says:

    Hi, I was just wondering how many layers of Apple should it be? One,two? I’m using a different type of apples and sure how much 3 Granny Smith apples would yuel. Thanks!

  3. Andrea says:

    Do too have to use the custard? Does it taste okay without it?

  4. This sounds amazing! Custard all the way – on anything/in everything.

  5. Andi says:

    The ingredients for the custard call for 6 tbsp of butter; yet, the directions don’t include the butter when making the custard.

  6. This looks amazing! Love apple cake so much!

  7. Dee says:

    Just a note that I almost forgot the cinnamon, bp, and salt because it isn’t mentioned in the instructions. Luckily, I double checked. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  8. michelle says:

    Hi. Is it absolutely necessary to use a springform pan? can we use a regular 9″ baking pan?

  9. […] Irish Apple Cake by The View from the Great Island […]

  10. mary kathryn says:

    One thought about apples that I got from an American Test Kitchen recipe (for apple pandowdy). They recommend using a mix of apples, some for flavor and some for texture. So you might want to choose 2 granny smiths, for flavor, and one other that would give more juice. Just an idea.

  11. I adore that streusel topping, what a perfect apple cake for the fall!

  12. Susan says:

    I am all over anything apple these days even though we’ve been having a warm and gorgeous Indian Summer here in the Midwest. The leaves are turning and the crickets are chirping at night and it just smell like fall.

    What a gorgeous dessert and that custard sauce just pushes it to a whole new delicious level.

  13. sippitysup says:

    I like Rome for that very reason. They show up late in the season here, and that’s a drawback. GREG

  14. Wowsers! This is spectacular! I love that every country has it’s own version of apple cake. I’ve made French, German and Danish but Irish is new to me. The custard sauce is a fabulous and unique twist.

  15. This CA weather is killing my fall vibe too, but I know I’ll be thankful we live here in about two months – like I always am! This apple cake looks divine! I’ll need to find a cool corner to wear a sweater and eat some!

    Luci’s Morsels – fashion. food. frivolity.

  16. You are absolutely right the smell of apples and cinnamon is something one never tires of. The summer is about to hit here I will have to get my skates on and get this baking before it gets too hot. I can just imagine this being cooked in a little Irish cottage, how good would this be to come home to.

  17. Katrina+Hall says:

    OMG – this is gorgeous !

  18. Amanda says:

    You are rockin’ my world with this cake! Amazing!

  19. Bless you for sharing this! Cannot wait to make this wonderful cake.

  20. This looks like the perfect way to celebrate the start of fall!

  21. delicious! It looks amazing and so moist. Would go perfect with a pumpkin latte:)

  22. Dom says:

    its the same here in the UK, we’re having unseasonably warm weather and I want my Autumn now!… this cake is a great way to move things on and get a taste of the autumn… it looks so beautiful x

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