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 891 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
    January 9, 2021 at 8:25 am

    5 stars
    I love any kind of apple dessert, and this looks incredible. So much flavour!

  • Reply
    January 9, 2021 at 8:02 am

    5 stars
    Don’t skimp on the apples and absolutely make the custard sauce!!

  • Reply
    January 9, 2021 at 7:17 am

    5 stars
    This was SO tasty. My wife and I loved it. Glad we decided on your recipe when looking for an apple cake.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2021 at 7:05 am

    5 stars
    This was a hit with my family! So delicious that they’re already asking me when I plan on making it again.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    5 stars
    Made this today with some cooking apples I was given ( not sure on the type ). Turned out amazingly. I used 1/2 Demerara sugar and 1/2 caster sugar for the topping and added a bit of cinnamon into it as well. Didn’t make the sauce as already had some shop brought custard. Will definitely be making again.

  • Reply
    October 3, 2020 at 6:10 am

    5 stars
    This is heavenly. Just the right amount of sweet, perfect for dessert or with a cup of coffee in the morning. Highly recommend.

  • Reply
    September 26, 2020 at 9:15 am

    Hi Sue, a few questions: First, how do you know when to take the custard mix off the heat before it curdles? Do you stir in the vanilla before or after taking it off the heat? Also, does anything need to be changed or adjusted if I’m using a 10” spring form pan? I’m a pretty inexperienced baker and I’ve never really made anything this “advanced” before, but when I saw this recipe I wanted so badly to try it! Any help or advice is super appreciated 🙂

  • Reply
    September 12, 2020 at 8:15 am

    Do you drizzle all of the hot milk into the egg mixture or just some? Thanks!

    • Reply
      September 12, 2020 at 8:21 am

      I just use about half of it to temper the eggs, but you can add all, slowly, it doesn’t really matter. You’ll put it back into the pan to thicken up in either case.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2020 at 9:00 am

    Can oil or crisco be used in place of butter?

    • Reply
      August 27, 2020 at 9:03 am

      I haven’t tried, but I would suggest that the butter flavored crisco might work because it’s in solid form.

  • Reply
    August 9, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    5 stars
    This is truly a wonderful cake. Not too sweet and the cream sauce is nice and light.

    • Reply
      August 9, 2020 at 1:25 pm

      Glad you loved it Julie 🙂

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