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Irish Apple Cake

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:

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
1. Place the rest of the batter onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper. 2. Spread the batter to a 9″ circle. 3. 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.
1. Pour the prepared apples into the pan. 2. 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.
1. Tuck the edges of the batter into the pan. 2. Brush the cake with egg wash. 3. Sprinkle the cake with sugar then bake.

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.

Print Recipe
4.89 from 9 reviews

Irish Apple Cake

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 mins
Bake Time45 mins
8 slices

Ingredients

  • 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)

Apple Filling

  • 2 each baking apples
  • 2 oz granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  • 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.

Equipment

KA Stand Mixer
KA Hand Mixer
Parchment Sheets
Offset Spatula
Cast Iron Skillet
Kitchen Scale

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Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 205mg | Potassium: 45mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 369IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 1mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!
Recipe Rating




Mary

Thursday 24th of March 2022

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?

Eileen Gray

Thursday 24th of March 2022

Nah, any butter will make a good cake.

Janet Mackness

Tuesday 15th of March 2022

What if you do not have a cast iron frying pan. Will it work in any other type of pan?

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 15th of March 2022

Yes. You can use a pie plate or a cake pan.

Tom Brophy

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

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.

Eileen Gray

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

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.

Penny Wolf

Monday 21st of February 2022

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.

Eileen Gray

Monday 21st of February 2022

I haven't had her try it yet. I have a few slices in the freezer to bring next time I visit her.

Eimar

Friday 18th of February 2022

cant understand your recipe.

Eileen Gray

Sunday 20th of February 2022

What is it that you don't understand?