With a buttery streusel topping, Irish apple cake is tender and spiced to perfection. Drizzled with a warm custard sauce, this is one dessert you won’t want to miss!

Apples complement cakes, cobblers, and pastries beautifully. For your next baking adventure, you’ll have to try an apple galette, tart, or danish!

Pouring custard sauce over a slice of Irish apple cake.

Traditional Irish Apple Cake Recipe

If you’re a sucker for apple desserts like me, you’re going to love this one! Irish apple cake is a traditional dessert that doubles as both a breakfast and a dessert. The texture is a little more dense than a sponge cake, like a coffee cake! It’s nice and moist on the inside, loaded with bright pieces of apple. Top it off with a warm custard sauce, and this apple cake is completely irresistible! You’ve got to try it. It will be a fantastic ending to any meal!

Cinnamon is added to the cake for a hint of warm flavor. What better spice to pair apples with? Buttery streusel, moist cake, and spiced apples is a heavenly combination. It’s the perfect balance of tangy and sweet! Trust me, you won’t be able to stop at one slice. Eat it as-is or serve it up with a scoop of ice cream on top. It’s delicious either way!

Ingredients for Irish Apple Cake

The ingredient list for this cake is on the longer side, but trust me, they’re all super simple ingredients that you’ll be able to find in your pantry. They combine to create something so amazing! It’s light, fresh, and full of fresh apples. All measurements can be found below in the printable recipe card.

  • Unsalted Butter: Added for a rich flavor and to keep the cake moist.
  • Granulated Sugar: White sugar gives your cake sweetness and melts down smoothly.
  • Vanilla: For a deeper flavor and sweetness.
  • Eggs: Needed to bind everything together!
  • All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour has a low protein content and keeps cakes nice and light. Cake flour works too but will alter the texture slightly.
  • Baking Powder: Needed for the Irish apple cake to rise properly.
  • Cinnamon: It’s the perfect warm spice!
  • Salt: Add to enhance overall flavor.
  • Milk: I always use whole milk when I bake to bump up the fat content. The more fat in a cake, the moister it is.
  • Granny Smith Apples: The tartness of granny smith keeps this dessert from being overly sweet. Other baking apples like honeycrisp work well, too, if you’re wanting something less tart.

Streusel Topping

  • All-Purpose Flour: This acts as the structure of your streusel.
  • Rolled Oats: Added for a little extra texture!
  • Granulated Sugar: For sweetening up the topping a little.
  • Salt: A pinch is all you need to keep it from tasting bland.
  • Unsalted Butter: To keep the streusel tender instead of hard.

Custard Drizzle

  • Whole Milk: A higher fat content to keep it nice and creamy.
  • Salt: Just a little to enhance flavor.
  • Egg Yolks: Egg yolks thicken the custard and give it that rich flavor we all love!
  • Granulated Sugar: Added to sweeten the sauce up a bit.
  • Vanilla Extract: I add vanilla to give the custard a more complex flavor.
Process shots of preparing cake batter and streusel topping.

How to Make Irish Apple Cake

This Irish apple cake recipe is broken up into 3 simple parts. Don’t let it intimidate you, all of the prep work is super easy! Trust me, it’s so rewarding when you pull this amazing cake out of the oven! Smells great, too!

  1. Preheat Oven, Prep Cake Pan: To begin, preheat the oven to 350°F and prep an 8-inch round cake pan by spraying with pan spray.
  2. Mix Wet Ingredients With Sugar: In a large bowl, use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes at medium-high speed. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until fully combined. Scrape down the sides.
  3. Add Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just barely fully combined.
  4. Fold in Apples: Next, add the chopped apples to the batter and fold in by hand until evenly distributed throughout. This is an apple-heavy recipe, so should be about 50/50 apples to batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and spread until smooth.
  5. Add Streusel and Bake: Top with the streusel topping and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the streusel is lightly golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake.
  6. Cool, Top With Custard Sauce: Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving with warm custard sauce.

Preparing Streusel and Custard Sauce

  1. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, and salt.
  2. Add Butter: Cut the butter into small cubed and toss with the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the mixture. It’s best to squish the pieces of butter with your thumb and forefingers to flatten and then continue to rub it all together until you get the texture of coarse breadcrumbs.
  3. Chill: Keep the streusel chilled in the fridge until your cake batter is ready to be topped.
  4. Begin Preparing Custard: Add the milk and salt to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until steaming. Don’t let it boil! It should be just barely to the point of simmering.
  5. Whisk Eggs and Sugar: In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. This will take 2-3 minutes by hand, or about 30 seconds if you use a hand mixer.
  6. Mix Milk and Eggs: Remove the milk from the burner and slowly whisk it into the egg yolk mixture, slowly bringing the egg yolks up in temperature. Once all of the milk has been whisked into the eggs, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat over medium heat while constantly whisking until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Add Vanilla and Serve: Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Serve warm over the cake.

Tips for Making Your Cake

These easy tips and tricks will help you make the best Irish apple cake ever! It’s so rich and fruity, you’re going to love every bite.

  • Room Temperature Wet Ingredients: In order for your cake batter to mix together smoothly, warmer temperatures are a must! I like to put any dairy or eggs used for baking out on the counter for 30 minutes before use.
  • Streusel Isn’t Crumbly: This can happen if you over-mix. I always like to form streusel pieces by hand to keep the mixture from becoming like batter.
  • Using Brown Sugar: For the streusel topping, brown sugar can be substituted for granulated sugar. I’ll use brown sugar if I want my streusel to have a deeper flavor. It also helps the crumbly pieces to form.
  • Adding Nuts: Nothing complements spiced apples quite as well as chopped nuts! Walnuts and pecans are great additions to this Irish apple cake.

An Irish apple cake cut into 3 pieces.

Storing Leftover Irish Apple Cake

This is a great dessert to enjoy days after it’s made! It can also be frozen. What’s better than finding a yummy cake in the freezer when you’re craving something sweet?!

  • In the Refrigerator: Stored in an airtight container, your Irish apple cake will stay good for 5-7 days.
  • In the Freezer: In an airtight container or freezer bag, your cake will last for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.

Taking a bite of cake with a fork.

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