This traditional Irish Apple Cake with Vanilla Custard Sauce is more of a cross between a sweet bread and tea cake! Serve this not-too-sweet apple cake up on its own, or drizzle some of our custard sauce over the cake slices when serving (which is how it is meant to be served).
It can be enjoyed as a breakfast cake, with tea or coffee, and is especially wonderful after dinner when served as a dessert – complete with the custard!
Like so many other traditional recipes, the variations to this apple cake are as numerous as the Grandmas baking it in farmhouses across the Irish countryside in the fall apple harvest season! Overall, an Irish Apple Cake is best served warm (and it is so very fragrant right out of the oven).
The thick cream or custard sauce that is customarily served with an apple cake can be served cold, which is convenient if you have made the custard sauce ahead of time, or warmed. You can warm your custard sauce on the stove top, but a short burst in the microwave on a lower heat setting works equally well.
Your apple varieties will also make a difference in taste, and we like a good firm apple with a sweet flavor such as Ambrosia (used here), Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, or Cameo. You can also use a combination of sweet and tart, such as using a Granny Smith apple or two, but firm apples will work best for baking.
This is an extremely easy cake to bake and enjoy any night of the week, but still special enough to serve up for St. Patrick’s Day or other special occasions! Enjoy!!
*Your baking time will be shorter if using larger pieces of apple, or a less juicy variety. My finely chopped apples are a preference, but add about ten minutes to my baking time.
More Irish Recipes!
- Irish Lamb Stew
- Irish Nachos
- Corned Beef and Cabbage
- Irish Oatmeal Cake with Caramel Pecan Frosting
- Irish Apple Cake (this page)
- Traditional Irish Soda Bread
- Irish Soda Bread Pudding
- Irish Barmbrack
- Potato Leek Soup
Irish Apple Cake with Vanilla Custard Sauce
Irish Apple Cake
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks - softened, at room temperature)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 pinch salt (or use 1/4 tsp if using unsalted butter)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (freshly grated is suggested)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 large ambrosia apples (peeled, cored and sliced or finely chopped)
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk (or 2% milk)
- 2 large eggs
Vanilla Custard Sauce
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
Irish Apple Cake
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (1900 degrees C) and generously coat your 9-10 inch springform pan with butter (or butter and flour), or spray with a non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the room temperature butter and sugar. Add salt, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg. Stir to combine. Add the all-purpose flour and mix until evenly distributed.
- Prepare the apples as desired. I washed and sliced my apples (peeling them is optional), then placed them in my food processor and pulsed a few times for smaller pieces (but not finely chopped). If chopping your slices, cut the slices about 1/4 inch thick then cut each slice into 1 inch chunks. Add the chopped apples, then mix until evenly distributed as well.
- Add the eggs to your milk, and stir until eggs are broken and mixed into the milk. Pour the milk and eggs mixture over the flour mixture and stir until just combined. The batter will be thick and lumpy.
- Transfer the batter to a your buttered springform pan, then smooth the top of the batter. Place the springform pan in the center of the oven and bake for about a hour and 15 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. *Check the cake at 50 minutes to make sure the top isn't getting too browned, if needed, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil.
- Remove the cake from your oven and allow to cool slightly on a wire cooling rack, about 5 minutes. Then remove from the springform pan and allow to cool slightly, if serving warm. Or allow to cool completely if serving later.
Vanilla Custard Sauce
- In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream and sugar over a medium temperature until it comes to a low boil. Stir the heavy cream occasionally as it heats, rapidly if needed to prevent the heavy cream from boiling too rapidly. If needed, remove your saucepan from the heat to keep your cream at a low boil.
- Whisk the egg yolks while the heavy cream is heating. Then slowly add the heated heavy cream and sugar slowly (very slowly at first to prevent cooking the eggs!). Drizzle in a tablespoon potion initially, whisk, repeat until the egg yolks have been tempered with the heated cream. It should take a few minutes of whisking to fully incorporate the heated cream and egg yolks.
- Return the cream to your saucepan. Continually whisk the mixture over medium-low temperature until the sauce thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Transfer to a glass bowl, jar, or small creamer carafe with a sheet of plastic wrap laying on the surface to prevent 'skin' that will form. Serve warm over cake if desired, store refrigerated.