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
    Ellen Easton
    March 13, 2021 at 7:02 am

    5 stars
    Looks delicious. Your photography is beautiful.

  • Reply
    Janice Olson
    February 14, 2021 at 9:00 am

    5 stars
    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!!! I skipped the custard and instead used some homemade salted caramel that I had on hand. Rave reviews from friends and family whom I’ve served this to this weekend!!! This is now my go-to dessert – every day, all year long 🙂

  • Reply
    February 6, 2021 at 9:39 am

    you never say what to do with custard

    • Reply
      February 13, 2021 at 10:24 am

      Simply pour a little of it over each slice of cake; it is sort of like putting ice cream on pie.

  • Reply
    Colleen Simec
    February 5, 2021 at 6:32 am

    5 stars
    I love that you gave both versions of the measurements, metric and imperial .So thoughtful of you.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2021 at 10:15 am

    Hi sue!
    what kind of sugar did you use in this recipe? thanks.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 2, 2021 at 10:32 am

      I used granulated sugar.

  • Reply
    Julie in the Berkshires
    January 10, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    5 stars
    Oh my goodness! I knew I was going to make this as soon as I saw your post, Sue! My husband and I just devoured our first pieces and I can’t guarantee it will last beyond tomorrow ?
    I did make one substitution because I love almond flour and I always have it on hand. I replaced all of the AP flour with almond flour and it was delicious! And since I’m a Weight Watcher and finally hit my goal last year and have kept all 45 lbs. of it off (yay!!) I didn’t make the Custard Sauce… but I might weaken tomorrow and make it!!! And, yes, I’ll count all the points! ? It’s so worth it!
    One other note is that I only have an 8″ springform pan so I used that and didn’t reduce the recipe at all. It took 1 hr. 10 min. to bake and it was the perfect size for the 2 large Honeycrisp apples I had.
    Thanks again for another 5 ? gem, Sue!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 20, 2021 at 9:47 am

      I’ll definitely have to try the almond flour version, I’d love to be able to offer this as a gf cake.

  • Reply
    Michelle V.
    January 10, 2021 at 8:20 am

    5 stars
    This recipe sounded so good, I made it yesterday after I read the post. It did not disappoint. It was delicious. I did not make the sauce. It was perfect on it’s own. Only difference was mine took longer to bake, but perhaps it was my old oven. Anyway, thank you. It is a keeper for sure!

  • Reply
    January 9, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    Dear Sue, love all your recipes and will be trying this one this afternoon. However just wanted to THANK YOU for adding “grams” to your recipes. I am from Australia and our cup and tablespoon measurements are a little different and butter is not sold in “sticks”. The conversions are not difficult but your addition of the gram measurements to your recipes just makes things a tad easier. (I am still figuring out “half and half” – not sold here.) Love the photographs by the way.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      January 10, 2021 at 7:30 am

      Hi Sharni ~ half and half is just equal parts whole milk and cream, if that helps!

  • Reply
    January 9, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    5 stars
    Whoa, this looks totally delicious! I’m an apple cake fan and this one looks so good – thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply
    January 9, 2021 at 9:59 am

    5 stars
    This looks and sounds fabulous! I really love that it is acceptable to eat for breakfast too!

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