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
3.87 from 895 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
    Florence Diehl
    March 27, 2020 at 9:56 am

    5 stars
    Easy to make. And taste delicious beyond your imagination.

  • Reply
    Dorothy Bernard
    March 11, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    5 stars
    Made two cakes for our monthly UMW church meeting. Came out wonderful.

    • Reply
      March 11, 2020 at 1:45 pm

      Great, I’m so glad Dorothy!

  • Reply
    Linda ONeill
    March 8, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    Exclusive of the custard sauce, does this apple cake freeze well?

    • Reply
      March 8, 2020 at 3:49 pm

      It should freeze fine Linda.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2020 at 10:14 am

    I would love it if you could post a picture where the texture of sliced cake is at the best angle to see it and without toppings. I think that gives you the best way to judge if you would enjoy it second to how it looks coming out of the oven in the pan. It does look very good from the angle shown in the pan.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2020 at 8:08 am

    I probably should skip this recipe since I’ve just been diagnosed with T2D and am trying to control it with diet and exercise but this looks so good. Could you break down the nutrition info by each part? ( maybe if I skip the custard…). Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      January 9, 2021 at 6:22 am

      I’ve added the nutritional info.

  • Reply
    Diane Cruciata
    March 2, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Could you just eat the cake alone without the custard sauce

    • Reply
      March 2, 2020 at 9:02 am

      Yes, for sure!

  • Reply
    February 26, 2020 at 8:34 am

    I have a family gathering where I stay the night for a week and would like to take this, they are 1.5 hours from me and I can’t make it in their kitchen. Is it okay to make the cake and crisp then freeze it until I need it?

    • Reply
      June 21, 2020 at 4:45 am

      Yes, that should be fine.

  • Reply
    Lynne Gangl
    February 26, 2020 at 5:43 am

    When discussing how little juice there is with only grannies, maybe switch out one of them for another type that has that extra quickness you might crave

    • Reply
      Ann Martin
      January 9, 2021 at 7:01 am

      5 stars
      Good suggestion – I will try that! Thanks to Sue for this wonderful recipe.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    4 stars
    This cake was delicious! Not too sweet with a wonderful texture. My family loved it with the custard on top, which is surprising because I I am usually the only one that likes custard. The next time I make it, I am going to chop the apples and fold them into the batter to get a good bit of apple in every bite.

    • Reply
      February 25, 2020 at 1:34 pm

      Glad you loved this Rachel, I think chopping the apples would work great too 🙂

  • Reply
    February 25, 2020 at 3:40 am

    This recipe sounds delightful. Being gluten free, could almond flour, cassava flour or coconut flour substitute for the wheat flour?
    I like the use if walnuts or pecans in place of oatmeal in the streusel topping.

    • Reply
      February 25, 2020 at 7:28 am

      I always tend to recommend a good gf baking mix, or a baking mix combined with one of those flours, for best results in cakes and muffins etc.

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