Irish Apple Cake

Irish Apple Cale

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.


Don’t forget to pin this Irish Apple Cake!


  • Reply
    Katie HG
    October 17, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve had a couple of apples knocking about in my fridge for a while and couldn’t decide what to make! I settled on this cake and boy am I glad! Delicious, soft, not too sweet and a wonderful crumble topping. Thank you!

    • Reply
      October 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks for letting us know, Katie!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I made this cake for Saturday nite dinner, what a success. I did not peel the apples and I used almond flour, it came out perfect. thank you for your wonderful recipes..

  • Reply
    Kelli Ann Wilson
    March 17, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I just made this for our family’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner – it was amazing! I didn’t actually make the custard (time constraints) but the cake was incredibly delicious all on its own. I used Kerrygold Butter made in Ireland for that extra special touch. On an unrelated note: I live in New Hampshire but I had never heard of Great Island until I found your blog. Now I’m intrigued!

    • Reply
      March 17, 2017 at 5:02 pm

      Oh I’m so glad you found me Kelli ~ I miss New Hampshire SO much, I’m determined to get back there to live someday :) I’m really glad you enjoyed the apple cake!

      • Reply
        Nancy Marzilli
        April 7, 2017 at 3:04 am

        Sue where is the recipe for this Irish apple cake? I would love to give this a try .

  • Reply
    March 14, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Has anyone added raisins to this? I’m thinking of soaking them in Amaretto first.

    • Reply
      March 14, 2017 at 8:07 am

      I don’t see why you couldn’t, Steph, and the Amaretto soaking sounds pretty amazing :)

    • Reply
      March 29, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      I soaked my raisins in brandy first and it was amazing I also used 2 Granny Smith’s and a Rome Apple because down here in Va the Mac apples are very mealy not like back home in Mass but came out very good

      • Reply
        March 29, 2017 at 5:21 pm

        Love the idea of soaking the raisins, how could that be bad? And don’t get me started on Macs, I miss my New Hampshire Mcintosh apples SO badly!!

  • Reply
    Cathie Kozachenko
    February 2, 2017 at 7:50 am

    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 ;)

    • Reply
      February 2, 2017 at 8:03 am

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

      • Reply
        February 5, 2017 at 6:54 am

        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

        • Reply
          February 10, 2017 at 9:11 am

          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.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      January 31, 2017 at 7:37 am

      I think if you use 3 good sized apples you’ll have a good amount, Jovana, I can’t recall how many layers, the slices just get piled in.

      • Reply
        February 7, 2017 at 5:59 am

        Thank you!

  • Reply
    January 18, 2017 at 7:11 am

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

    • Reply
      January 18, 2017 at 7:16 am

      No you don’t need the custard, Andrea, although it does add a nice extra element to it.

  • Reply
    Kayleigh | Whisks & Wooden Spoons
    November 23, 2016 at 5:27 pm

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

    • Reply
      November 23, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      Haha!! I have to agree :)

  • Reply
    October 6, 2016 at 3:11 pm

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

    • Reply
      October 6, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      oops that is sugar not butter my bad!!!

  • Reply
    Eden Passante
    March 15, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    This looks amazing! Love apple cake so much!

  • Reply
    March 11, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      March 11, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      I reworked the recipe instructions to be more clear, thanks Dee!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2016 at 10:52 pm

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

    • Reply
      February 29, 2016 at 7:05 am

      No I’m sure it’s not essential Michelle, but as I recall it’s a lot of batter, and comes pretty high up in the spring form pan, so just be sure your pan can accommodate it, and watch the baking time.

      • Reply
        March 2, 2016 at 10:34 pm

        Thank you. :)

  • Reply
    50 {Yummy} St. Patrick's Day Recipes | Pin-n-Tell
    February 25, 2015 at 7:12 am

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

  • Reply
    mary kathryn
    October 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      October 14, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Great info!

  • Reply
    October 1, 2014 at 12:43 pm

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

  • Reply
    September 28, 2014 at 7:15 am

    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.

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014 at 5:43 pm

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

  • Reply
    Chris @ The Café Sucré Farine
    September 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Luci {Luci's Morsels}
    September 23, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    September 23, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    September 23, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    OMG – this is gorgeous !

    • Reply
      September 24, 2014 at 6:51 am

      Thanks Katrina — it smells good too :)

  • Reply
    September 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm

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

  • Reply
    September 23, 2014 at 3:43 pm

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

  • Reply
    September 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm

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

  • Reply
    September 23, 2014 at 10:47 am

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

  • Reply
    September 23, 2014 at 10:34 am

    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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