Irish Apple Cake

Irish Apple Cake is a homey and tasty treat that can be baked in a cast iron skillet. The ingredients are simple so you can appreciate the true apple flavor.

an irish apple cake in a cast iron skillet.

What is Authentic Irish Apple Cake?

In my research, the majority of recipes I found for Irish Apple Cake were something akin to an American Coffee Cake. A streusel topped cake studded with apples and served with custard sauce.

But I was intrigued by another type of recipe I found. These cakes were made with a thicker batter and seemed like a cross between a cake and a tart. Mmm, my happy place.

It was time to talk to the ultimate authority, my Irish mother. Frankly, mom has many wonderful qualities but cooking and baking are not among them. But her mother, my grandmother, was a wonderful baker.

I asked my mom to describe the type of apple cake my grandmother used to make. What she remembered was a cake much like the second type I found, the one between a cake and a tart.

After baking several test cakes, making adjustments with each batch, my mother finally declared the taste just right.

So yes, this is an authentic Irish Apple Cake according to Mary O’Sullivan of Limerick.


ingredients for irish apple cake in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes

  • All Purpose Flour – Medium protein content AP flour is perfect for making a cake that is tender but has enough body to contain the apple filling.
  • Butter – I use Irish butter for this recipe, but any brand of butter will work. Irish butter is softer than American butter so you may want to add bit of milk to soften the batter. The batter should be thick, but spreadable. If you use salted butter hold back some of the salt listed in the recipe then adjust the batter to taste.
  • Apples – Use tart, firm baking apples for the best filling that doesn’t turn into applesauce. Granny Smith is a good basic baking apple.

The process for making Irish Apple Cake

See the recipe card for detailed measurements and instructions.

cake batter spread into a cast iron skillet
  • Spread half the batter into a buttered cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a skillet you can use a pie plate or cake pan.
three photos showing how to spread cake batter onto parchment paper to form the top of the cake
  • Place the rest of the batter onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper.
  • Spread the batter to a 9″ circle.
  • Cover with another sheet of paper and chill.
Photo 1 shows a skillet filled with cake batter and chopped apples. Photo 2 shows how to place the top batter onto the cake.
  • Pour the prepared apples into the pan.
  • Flip the chilled batter onto the apples and peel away the paper.
three photos showing how to finish the top of an irish apple cake.
  • Tuck the edges of the batter into the pan.
  • Brush the cake with egg wash.
  • Sprinkle the cake with sugar then bake.

Recipe Tips

  • I used a well-seasoned cast iron skillet for a crunchy crust and crisp topping. If you don’t have a good skillet you can bake the cake in a 9″ pie plate or cake pan.
  • Taste the apples before putting them into the pan. At this point you can adjust the sugar and lemon to your taste.
  • The top layer must be well chilled before flipping it onto the cake. The colder the batter, the easier it is to remove the paper. Leave it in the freezer until you’re ready to put it on the cake.
  • The cake comes together pretty quickly, but you can make the batter ahead of time. After mixing the batter, spread each half into parchment as described in the recipe. Chill until you’re ready to assemble the cake. Flip the bottom crust into the pan and tuck it into place. Continue the recipe as written.

Storage & Serving

  • The cake is divine while it’s still warm from the oven. But it’s also really tasty the next day when the juice from the apples permeates and moistens the cake.
  • I highly recommend serving the cake with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
  • The cake keeps at room temperature 2-3 days. After the first day I suggest removing the left over cake from the cast iron pan.

More Irish inspired recipes

a slice of irish apple cake on a glass plate with whipped cream.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

Print Recipe
4.93 from 13 reviews

Irish Apple Cake Recipe

Irish Apple Cake is a homey and tasty treat baked in a cast iron skillet. The ingredients are simple so you can appreciate the true apple flavor.
Prep Time30 minutes
Bake Time45 minutes
8 slices
Save Recipe


  • 2 each eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 each egg yolk (room temperature)
  • 2 oz whole milk (¼ cup, room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 7 ½ oz all purpose flour (1 ½ cups, see note)
  • 4 oz granulated sugar (½ cup)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 4 oz Irish Butter (room temperature)

Apple Filling

  • 2 each baking apples
  • 2 oz granulated sugar (¼ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • Butter a 10" cast iron skillet (or 9" pie plate or cake pan). Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use the convection setting if you have one.
  • In a small bowl whisk 1 egg for egg wash and set it aside. In another small bowl or measuring cup whisk together the other egg, the yolk, 2 oz whole milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl whisk together 7 ½ oz all purpose flour, 4 oz granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon table salt. With the mixer running, add 4 oz Irish Butter a tablespoon at a time. Continue mixing until the butter is incorporated. With the mixer running, add the combined eggs and milk.
  • Spread half the batter into the prepared skillet so that the batter comes about 1/2 way up the sides of the pan. On a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper, spread the rest of the batter into a 9" circle. Cover with another sheet of paper then slide it into the freezer while you prepare the apples.
  • Peel, core and chop 2 each baking apples into 1/2" cubes. Toss the chopped apples with 2 oz granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste the apples and adjust the flavor to your liking. Pour the apples into the pan and smooth them into an even layer.
  • Remove the parchment wrapped batter from the freezer. Peel back the top layer of parchment then flip it over so the chilled batter is on top of the apples. Peel off the parchment. Tuck the sides of the batter into the pan to seal in the apples. Brush the top of the cake with egg wash, sprinkle generously with granulated sugar.
  • Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown, the apples are tender and a toothpick or knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Total baking time is about 40-45 minutes.
  • Serve slightly warm with whipped cream. The cake keeps at room temperature for 2-3 days.

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If measuring the flour by volume use the “dip & sweep” method. That is, dip the measuring cup into the flour bin, overfill it, then sweep away the excess.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 287kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 194mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 369IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

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Recipe Rating


  1. This was perhaps the most frustrating recipe I’ve ever attempted. The dough is a sticky nightmare—I couldn’t figure out how to spread it in the pan nor could I get the frozen top layer to peel off in a single sheet (more like a pile of sticky pieces). Can you provide a video – and maybe add some advice? Paerhaps both sides of the dough need to be spread on parchment (and with a little dusting of flour) like the “make ahead of time” directions? Maybe I made a mistake but I would love some pointers on how to deal with the batter.

    1. I made this cake on Friday and did it exactly according to the directions and it worked perfectly. I spread the batter in the pan as you would spread frosting on a cake. The top layer needs to be in the freezer long enough to solidify a bit. You do need to be using proper baking parchment paper. If you use wax paper or another type of paper it may adhere too much. I find that if I put the top layer in the freezer while I prepare the apples it has enough time to firm up. I unpeel the top paper and flip it over the apples. Tap it into place then unpeel the paper.

    2. @Eileen Gray, I’ll try again. Thank you for responding. I used good parchment. The cake I made tasted delicious but didn’t look too hot, lol. Thanks for all the great recipes!

  2. Your recipes have always been so good, and I am sure this one will taste good, but I found it a bit of a nightmare to prepare. The batter barely covered the bottom of my 10″ cast iron pan.Spreading it was difficult. Without stating a set time to put the top part in the freezer, mine was too soft and stuck to the parchment. Perhaps one shouldn’t preheat the oven until the batter is in the freezer? Anyway, I am sure it will taste good, all your recipes do.

  3. 5 stars
    The five stars are for the lovely recipe and clear directions. I stumbled with the chilling and placement of the upper half of the cake dough. Not your fault, perhaps my eggs were too large. After a couple of trips in and out of the freezer, trying to get it to firm up enough to handle it, I worked in a couple of tablespoons of flour until I could pat it into the required shape. It cane out just fine, despite that. I loved the crispy shiny top with the sugar. My husband is enjoying a second slice as I write. Thank you for sharing this. I greatly enjoy the professionalism of your recipes and directions.

  4. 5 stars
    Another great recipe! I made this last night and we loved it. Fresh and lightly sweet not cloying like so many apple desserts. I used a heavy ceramic pie plate instead of cast iron. My tucking looked pretty rough going into the oven, but came out looking beautiful.

    I used plain ol’ Tillamook butter instead of Irish butter. Does it make a big difference?

  5. 5 stars
    Just taking my first try out of the oven. I had a little extra dough after putting the top on so I put it in the oven and made a cookie with. After about 5 minutes I could see shapes of the apples on the top of the cake, and thought boy I should put all of it on the top. Another 10 minutes in the oven the top puffed up and looked just like your picture. It is nice and delicate. I will definitely will make again, but maybe using single serving cast iron pans that way it can be eaten out of the pan instead of cutting each piece and sharing.

    1. Single serve cakes would be nice. Yes, the dough is surprising the way it actually does form into a nice cake. If you had extra dough and had trouble getting a nice slice you can try going a little heavier on the bottom half of the cake to form a good base.

  6. I look forward to trying this recipe. I understand it completely and like that the apple flavor will not be dulled by spice. I am curious if your Mother thought your creation was close to the baking of your Grandma.

  7. Recipe doesn’t give a oven temp.
    I will try as is but wonder if adding cinnamon to the apples would be good. Looks like an easy recipe with simple ingredients!

    1. You can add cinnamon if you like. I didn’t add any spice because that’s the way my grandmother made it. My mother doesn’t like cinnamon in any apple desserts because in Ireland she never had it in her desserts. The first step says to preheat the oven to 350F.