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
Whenever I’m ready to post a new recipe I start in one of two places. If it’s a recipe I’ve been making forever, like my Vanilla Butter Cake or Italian Meringue Buttercream there’s no research or testing needed. I go ahead and make the recipe, take some photos and turn it into a new blog post. (Believe me, that still involves quite a bit of work.)
A totally new recipe starts with some research. First I peruse my own cookbooks and then my research continues on the interwebs.
The majority of recipes I found for Irish Apple Cake were something akin to an American Coffee Cake. A streusel topped cake filled with apples and served with custard sauce.
But I was intrigued by another type of recipe made with a thicker batter that was almost a dough. Those recipes made something that was 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.
I baked a test cake based on the recipes I found on-line. It was OK, but the actual cake part was a bit dry and bland and the spices tossed in with the apples (cloves and cinnamon) muted the fruit flavor.
To improve the flavor and texture of the cake I added an extra yolk, a little more salt and some vanilla. I took all the spice out of the apple filling and added a little lemon juice to enhance the fruit’s natural flavor.
Finally, I baked the cake in a cast iron skillet to create a wonderful brown crust and crisp sugary topping.
Scroll through the photos to see how to make an Irish Apple Cake:
Tip for making Irish Apple Cake in a cast iron skillet:
- 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.
- Use tart, firm baking apples for the best filling that doesn’t turn into applesauce. Granny Smith is a good basic baking apple.
- Taste the apples before putting them into the pan. At this point you can adjust the sugar and lemon to your taste.
- 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.
- 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.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.
Irish Apple Cake
- 2 each eggs (room temperature)
- 1 each egg yolk (room temperature)
- 2 oz whole milk (1/4 cup, room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 7 1/2 oz all purpose flour (1 1/2 cups)
- 4 oz granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 4 oz Irish Butter (room temperature)
- 2 each baking apples
- 2 oz granulated sugar (1/4 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, the milk and the vanilla.2 each eggs, 1 each egg yolk, 2 oz whole milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, the baking powder and salt. With the mixer running, add the butter a tablespoon at a time. Continue mixing until the butter is incorporated. With the mixer running, add the combined eggs and milk.7 1/2 oz all purpose flour, 4 oz granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon table salt, 4 oz Irish Butter
- 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 the apples into 1/2" cubes. Toss the chopped apples with 1/4 cup sugar and the 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.2 each baking apples, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 oz granulated sugar
- 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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