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
    June 28, 2020 at 10:27 am

    5 stars
    Made this last night and the family really enjoyed it! Not over sweet, very good! Thank you fro posting this recipe.

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 11:22 am

      It’s a recipe you can go back to again and again, it’s such a season spanner.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    Is there an important reason to use unsalted butter? Does it make a big difference? I only have salted.

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 4:34 am

      You can use the salted in baking, just remember to omit any other added salt in your recipes.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve been reading books by Jean Grainger who is Irish and all her stories are set in Ireland. Seems like Irish cake with cream is THE cake for every special occasion so I’m thrilled to see your recipe.

  • Reply
    Karen L
    May 9, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Just put this cake in the oven and am impatiently waiting to see how it turns out. I have a feeling that I didn’t do such a great job on the streusel topping. The butter didn’t seem to be incorporated into the other ingredients enough but I went ahead and put in on the apples. Guess we will see what happens. If the cake is still as good as it sounds, I will have to make it again doing a better job on the streusel.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2020 at 8:55 am

    Hi! I want to try this recipe this weekend but I don’t have a spring form pan. Any suggestions or experience making with a different pan? Thanks!

    • Reply
      May 8, 2020 at 8:58 am

      Use something with the same dimensions, like a 9 inch round cake pan, or even a 9 inch square baker. In those cases you’ll have to cut and serve the cake from the pan, because you won’t be able to turn it out.

      • Reply
        May 8, 2020 at 9:14 am

        Thank you! Will try!

  • Reply
    patricia fitzgerald
    May 7, 2020 at 8:48 am

    looks and sounds divine! will definitely try it. Thanks!

    • Reply
      January 9, 2021 at 7:12 am

      You could line the pan with tin foil leaving some to overhang the pan. When cool, gently lift the cake out by the overhanging tim foil. Also makes clean up easy!

  • Reply
    April 29, 2020 at 11:11 am

    5 stars
    This was so good. I substituted gluten free flour for regular flour, plus coconut milk for the crean. My whole family raved! Thanks

    • Reply
      April 29, 2020 at 11:41 am

      Thanks, Jen, glad you liked it!

    • Reply
      January 9, 2021 at 8:40 am

      Wonderful! What kind did you use?

  • Reply
    April 21, 2020 at 3:39 pm

    5 stars
    Delicious and moist. I added vanilla to cake and used brown sugar, instead of white in crumble. I will definitely make again!

  • Reply
    Maggie B
    April 11, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    Do I need to refrigerate this once cooled? Obviously, without the custard.

    • Reply
      April 11, 2020 at 7:25 pm

      No, you can leave it on the counter, covered with foil.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    5 stars
    I was skeptical at first but made this and spoiled my family for good. My hubby loves this so much he wants it for birthday cake!

    • Reply
      March 29, 2020 at 9:04 pm

      Yay!! Just what I love to hear.

    • Reply
      March 30, 2020 at 7:07 am

      That’s the highest compliment 🙂

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