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. It’s delicious with or without the traditional custard sauce!
a classic apple cake filled with juicy apples and warm spices
This easy apple cake recipe speaks to another era and another continent. But nothing beats a kitchen filled with the warm scent of apples and cinnamon, no matter what your particular spot in the baking universe. The cake is mildly spiced, with an inner core of thinly sliced tart apples, topped with a crumbly oat streusel. Tradition dictates serving it with some thick cream, or a luscious custard sauce. Choose to respect or flaunt tradition: you’re in charge.
best apples for an apple cake
I used Granny Smith apples for this apple cake ~ they’re nice and tart and don’t get mushy in the oven.
Another good choice would be Honeycrisp apples. 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.) You’ll need about 3 good sized apples for this recipe, that’s the bottom line. Peel them, and slice them thinly. If you’re making them more than a few minutes ahead, be sure to toss them with a little lemon juice to prevent browning.
the crumble topping makes this cake especially appropriate for breakfast, brunch, or afternoon tea
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.
love cooking with apples? (we do too.)
- Apple Crumb Bars
- Moist Apple Brownies
- Apple Skillet Cake
- Easy Apple Pie Scones
- Apple Butter Cake
- Rustic Apple Galette
- Apple Cheddar and Sage Biscuits
Irish Apple Cake
- 9 inch spring form pan
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 Tbsp whole 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. Mine weighed a little over a pound after slicing.
- confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 6 Tbsp unsalted cold butter, cut in small pieces
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- 6 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk ~ you can also use half and half or cream
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9 inch springform pan.
- Make the custard sauce ahead of time. Bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile whisk the yolks and sugar until well combined. 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. Do this slowly, over medium heat, and I like to use a silicone spoon or spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan as it heats. The mixture will become velvety and thickend, but it will not be as thick as pudding. It will continue to thicken as it cools, so don't overcook or it can curdle. Stir in the vanilla.
- Pour the custard through a sieve (to catch any stray lumps) into a heat proof jar or bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface so it won't form a skin as it cools. Put in the refrigerator until completely chilled.
- 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.
- 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 into your prepared pan, and smooth out evenly. Top with the sliced apples, and then the streusel topping. Note: no need to arrange the apples perfectly, but try to get them in an even layer.
- 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.
Questions and Reviews
I made this cake for St. Patrick’s Day, and it was absolutely delicious. I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s the best of coffee cake, apple pie, and apple streusel combined in one dessert. Everyone loved it and some came back for seconds. My husband even wants it for his birthday now! The batter seemed so thick and short at first, and I was worried I did something wrong but it turned out great. I also thought the streusel needed more oats while making, but like I said, turned out perfectly and I don’t want to mess with this recipe! Definitely learned it only takes seconds for the custard to cook before it starts to curdle. Mine could’ve been smoother but still tasted amazing!
Very tasty and a nice layering of textures and flavors. I used salted butter instead of unsalted because I like a little more salt. I also added 2 tsp vanilla to the cake and upped the vanilla in the custard sauce to 2 tsp. It is very important not to cook the custard too long. Definitely do not let it boil or it will curdle. If this happens, you can smooth it out a bit by beating it, but it still will not have the velvet texture that it would have if not cooked too long. Next time I make the recipe, I plan to substitute brown sugar for granulated in the crumb topping as well as add 1/2 cup chopped pecans to the topping just to see if I like it even better. BTW, I used honey crisp apples, and they worked great. My dogs loved licking our plates too.
Borden I love your idea of using brown sugar and pecans, that sounds like a winner!
Great for company.