Authentic Irish Apple Cake




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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.

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.

I usually use Granny Smith apples for my baking because I like their tartness and the fact that they don’t get mushy in the oven.  The one negative I’ve found is that they aren’t quite as juicy as some other apple varieties.  You can always experiment with other types, if you want, you can’t go too wrong here. (Pickyourown.org has a pretty comprehensive guide to apple varieties if you’ve got some choices!)  You’ll need about 3 good sized apples for this recipe.

This is a not-too-sweet kind of cake in the European tradition. It’s pretty perfect with a cup of coffee or tea in the morning or mid afternoon, though still definitely special enough to serve as dessert, especially with the custard. The custard sauce keeps well in the fridge, and can be served either warm or cold.  The cake, however, is especially fabulous and fragrant warm from the oven.

Craving more apples?  Try my MAPLE FROSTED APPLE BLONDIES, or my SPICED APPLE CAKE.  If you’ve got lots of apples to use up (lucky you!) try making a batch or two of homemade APPLE BUTTER or APPLE SAUCE.


Reader Rave ~

Just made this with my sister and nephew. We give it two thumbs up!”  ~Debra


Irish Apple Cake
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60 ratings

Irish Apple Cake

Ingredients

    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

Instructions

  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.

 

Don’t forget to pin this Irish Apple Cake!

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. #cake #irishapplecake #applecake #irishrecipe #breakfastcake #dessert #fallbaking #apples #crumbcake #coffeecake #irishcake #stpatricksday

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70 Comments

  • Reply
    Leslie Kupfer
    January 9, 2019 at 10:11 am

    Hi – Can this cake be made with pears? Have several which are not soft yet, and thought they would go well in this recipe. Thanks1

    • Reply
      Sue
      January 9, 2019 at 11:00 am

      I would think that would be nice Leslie.

  • Reply
    Debra
    January 1, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Just made this with my sister and nephew. We give it two thumbs up!

  • Reply
    Eileen
    December 23, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    A novice to this, I was a bit alarmed at how dry the dough seemed, but the end result was lovely!

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 23, 2018 at 5:42 pm

      I’m so glad it worked out for you :)

  • Reply
    Carol Weaver
    October 15, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Some stores in eastern PA (Wegman’s for example) carry Bird’s custard mix. We used that when living in the UK and it makes it so much easier to serve custard whenever we want it.

    • Reply
      Sue
      October 15, 2018 at 1:23 pm

      I remember that mix from when I lived in Britain, it’s so convenient. Wonder if you can get it on Amazon.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Madi
    April 25, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    When I was making it, I was a bit concerned because the batter amount was quite small, and I barely had enough to create an even layer on my small round springform pan.
    HOWEVER it turned out quite nice, and rose well (I use self-raising flour instead of baking powder and regular flour).
    My only concern was that the sides and bottom were a slight edge of burnt even under the cooking time.
    I’ll be trying this again in a couple of days to perfect it :) It is a lovely cake. As I didn’t have the time to make custard, I’ve just warmed slices of the cake and served with ice cream <3

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 25, 2018 at 7:31 pm

      Thanks Madi ~ and I would check your oven temp with a thermometer because it’s possible it runs a few degrees hot. This is a small cake, and I think that’s partly because it is authentically Irish, and the rest of the world seems to enjoy much more modest desserts than we Americans do :)

  • Reply
    Georgia A Ipsen
    March 25, 2018 at 5:35 am

    Can I use old fashioned oats instead of old fashioned rolled oats?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 25, 2018 at 7:24 am

      Yes, Georgia, that’s fine.

  • Reply
    Angel
    March 18, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Made this for St. Patrick’s Day dessert. The cake turned out great. My husband doesn’t eat a lot of sweets so I know if he likes it we have a winner. I tried twice to make the custard sauce but after the second batch curdled I gave up and ate the cake with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream. I might try the sauce again some time but it’s fine without it. Thanks for this recipe it will be part of the rotation now.

  • Reply
    Maria Kanis
    March 18, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Hi there Sue, I’m Irish & hail from Dublin & for the last 18 years have lived with my English Husband in the Limousin region of France. Limoges, our capital city is renowned worldwide for it’s beautiful Pottery, our region is also famous for it’s Limousine Apples, hence the reason I’m always on the lookout for a nice apple cake, in fact, have a folder full of them & have worked my way through most of them. I’m looking forward to trying your recipe but was wondering if it’s at all possible to list in metric or imperial measurements for those of us this side of the Pond. I can convert, but it’s doesn’t always work out.
    Being St Patrick’s weekend my Husband is shouting for Irish Apple Cake so I would love to try yours.
    I’m not too sure if you will get this message or not but would love to hear from you.
    Meantime, I hope you are having a good St Pat’s weekend. Slainte, Maria

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 18, 2018 at 7:06 pm

      Hey Maria ~ I will try to get to that conversion this week, I’m traveling in Florida right now visiting my Dad and his wife, but I’m working remotely ;) I wish I could find a reliable and easy converter, it’s such tricky business, as you note. I may have to get back to the kitchen and actually make this cake again to do an accurate job. Thanks for following along from such a distance ~ I would love to get to Limoges someday!

  • Reply
    Lily
    March 16, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    I am sad I did everything and looks like is not rising what did I do wrong? I used the right pan was I suppose to put the pan on cookies sheet cause that’s what I did maybe that’s it ?

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 17, 2018 at 6:20 am

      This isn’t a tall fluffy cake, Lily, but rather dense, almost like a tart, so it’s possible you did everything right.

      • Reply
        Teri
        March 17, 2018 at 1:03 pm

        Sue can you use a 8” cake pan instead of 9”?

        • Reply
          Sue
          March 17, 2018 at 2:31 pm

          Sure!

      • Reply
        Lily
        March 17, 2018 at 2:43 pm

        Thank you for letting me know that But it was Delicious ! So I know I did it right now thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Amanda
    January 21, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Is the custard sauce supposed to be thick?

    • Reply
      Sue
      January 21, 2018 at 4:07 pm

      Not super thick, Amanda.

  • Reply
    Brenda
    December 12, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    If I am serving this at a dinner party, can I make it the night before?

    • Reply
      Sue
      December 12, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Yes, that won’t be a problem, enjoy!

  • 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
      Sue
      October 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks for letting us know, Katie!

  • Reply
    joan
    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
      Sue
      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
    Steph
    March 14, 2017 at 7:57 am

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

    • Reply
      Sue
      March 14, 2017 at 8:07 am

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

    • Reply
      Carrie
      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
        Sue
        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
      Sue
      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
        Victoria
        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
          Jack
          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
    Jovana
    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
      Sue
      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
        Jovana
        February 7, 2017 at 5:59 am

        Thank you!

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