Authentic Irish Apple Cake

spooning custard sauce on an 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. It’s delicious with or without the traditional custard sauce!

spooning custard sauce on a slice of Irish Apple Cake

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.

Granny Smith apples

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. ( 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.

Irish Apple Cake just out of the pan and on a cooling rack

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.

a slice of Irish Apple Cake with custard sauce

love cooking with apples? (we do too.)

Reader Rave ~

“This was absolutely delicious and very easy and straightforward to make. This was my first time ever making an Apple Cake and now I’ve make it twice in 2 days!!!”     ~ Janice

Irish Apple Cake with Custard Sauce
3.88 from 897 votes

Irish Apple Cake

An authentic Irish Farmhouse Apple Cake ~ delicious with or without the traditional custard sauce!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Irish
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Yield 10 servings
Calories 372.87kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 9 inch spring form pan



  • 1/2 cup (or 113 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (or 100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp (or 45 ml) whole milk or cream
  • 1 1/4 cups (or 150 grams) 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

streusel topping

  • 3/4 cup (or 96 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (or 25 grams) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 6 Tbsp (or 85 grams) unsalted cold butter cut in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup (or 100 grams) granulated sugar

custard sauce

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 Tbsp (or 76 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (or 375 ml) whole milk ~ you can also use half and half or cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla


  • Set the oven to 350F 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.


Calories: 372.87kcal | Carbohydrates: 49.8g | Protein: 4.66g | Fat: 17.7g | Saturated Fat: 10.67g | Sodium: 85.04mg | Fiber: 2.47g | Sugar: 26.94g
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Maria Elena
    May 20, 2019 at 4:51 am

    5 stars
    Hi Sue… I had traveled to Ireland and brought back good whisky!… I wanted to have some friends over for an Irish dinner so we could all try the whiskey together… I picked this cake for dessert and I was very pleased!!!… It is easy, delicious and not too sweet!!… My favorite kind 🙂

    • Reply
      May 20, 2019 at 6:49 am

      I take that as high praise since you’ve just been to Ireland!

  • Reply
    March 22, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    For the blending of the oatmeal, can this be done by hand or is a blender needed.

    • Reply
      March 22, 2019 at 1:29 pm

      You can do it by hand, for sure, using forks or a pastry cutter.

  • Reply
    Darlene Chambers
    March 17, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Would u think the 3 apples are too much??

    • Reply
      September 4, 2019 at 3:19 pm

      3 worked just right for me.

  • Reply
    Arlene K.
    February 20, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Could I use an 8 or 9″ cake pan instead of the spring form pan?

    • Reply
      February 20, 2019 at 4:24 pm

      Yes, absolutely, just watch your cooking time if you use a smaller diameter pan.

  • 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
      January 9, 2019 at 11:00 am

      I would think that would be nice Leslie.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2019 at 2:51 pm

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

    • Reply
      September 4, 2019 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks Debra 🙂

  • Reply
    December 23, 2018 at 5:36 pm

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

    • Reply
      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
      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
        October 15, 2021 at 3:44 pm

        I buy Bird’s Custard Sauce powder in the can at World Mkt. My grandmother always used it, she had an English best friend who told her.

        • Reply
          Sue Moran
          October 15, 2021 at 8:16 pm

          That makes it super easy, thanks Linda!

  • Reply
    April 25, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    5 stars
    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
      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
      March 25, 2018 at 7:24 am

      Yes, Georgia, that’s fine.

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