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
    February 24, 2020 at 8:58 am

    This sounds delish!!! Do you think I could leave out the oats in the topping?

    • Reply
      February 24, 2020 at 9:00 am

      Yes, just add a bit more flour, or you could add walnuts if that appeals to you.

  • Reply
    February 20, 2020 at 7:57 am

    Can you make this the day before? Do you need to reheat the custard sauce?

    • Reply
      February 20, 2020 at 9:46 am

      Yes, and you use the sauce cold, so it’s perfect for the next day.

  • Reply
    Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
    February 15, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    5 stars
    I’d love a slice of this with some custard sauce – it looks absolutely delicious and it’d be difficult to stop myself from eating it all!

    • Reply
      February 22, 2020 at 8:07 am

      I love a slice the next day for breakfast 🙂

  • Reply
    February 15, 2020 at 11:31 am

    5 stars
    I have been looking for the perfect St Patty’s Day dessert and I just found it. This Irish Apple Cake looks amazing.

    • Reply
      February 22, 2020 at 8:08 am

      I just made it again yesterday ~ so good!

  • Reply
    February 15, 2020 at 11:14 am

    5 stars
    We love a good apple cake in our house, and this one is definitely one of the tastiest we have tried. The streusel topping is lovely, and so is the custard sauce.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2020 at 11:11 am

    5 stars
    Not only is this cake delicious but it makes the whole house smell amazing!

    • Reply
      February 15, 2020 at 11:12 am

      I know, that’s such a nice bonus 🙂

  • Reply
    February 15, 2020 at 10:47 am

    5 stars
    Two thumbs up for this recipe! I made it for a dinner party and it got rave reviews. Saving this one for St. Patrick’s Day, too.

  • Reply
    January 28, 2020 at 7:24 pm

    Do you have pictures of the apple layer or can you describe how you did that layer? I am thinking about using a mandolin to slice the apples but don’t know if they should be in a single layer, 1/2″ tall or scattered and sparse. Since that apples are a layer and not in the batter, how would their juiciness be a factor? Do they cook into the cake?

    • Reply
      January 28, 2020 at 7:29 pm

      I piled the apple slices into the cake in a haphazard way, no need to stack neatly. They don’t cook into the cake, they maintain their shape.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2019 at 8:56 am

    5 stars
    This recipe was amazing! I didn’t have any apples on hand so I used bartlett pears that were still a little hard and they turned out perfect! I also used a tall 9″ cake pan and it worked great. The tall sides made it nice for holding the streusel topping once I cut it! I will definitely be making this again with pears for Thanksgiving. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply
      November 15, 2019 at 9:17 am

      Now you’ve got me wanting to try pears!

  • Reply
    September 30, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    5 stars
    I love your recipe! I was curious if you ever made them as bite size cakes or mini muffins. In the off chance you have I am catering an event for 200 and would love to hear your advice.

    • Reply
      September 30, 2019 at 7:14 pm

      I haven’t tried this as muffins, I would think it would be worth an experiment, though. For something as small as a bite sized muffin you’d want to get the apple into a tiny dice without turning it into mush ~ let me know if you attempt it!

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