Tangy apples, warm autumn spices, and a sticky sauce make this recipe a favorite once the temperatures start to drop.
Table of Contents
🗝️ Key takeaways
- Warm spices flavor the moist cake, which is packed with fresh apples and topped with whiskey glaze for the coziest fall feeling.
- This is one of those traditional Irish recipes that's great on St. Patrick's Day but is also fabulous after a day of autumn apple picking.
- Watch as I show you how to make perfect brown butter sauce—it's not difficult and truly makes the other flavors sing.
This delicious Irish apple cake recipe is a huge hit with anyone who loves the warm, fragrant spices of fall.
With a crunchy cinnamon-sugar top and crumbly texture inside (like a coffee cake), your family will crave this sweet treat with brunch, alongside afternoon tea, and for dessert, of course!
This easy apple cake recipe is so good in the Fall! It has all those warm, spicy flavors we love.
This is an overview of the ingredients. You'll find the full measurements and instructions in the green recipe card (printable) at the bottom of the page.
- I prefer Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples, but you really can use any kind of apples you prefer, as long as they're suitable for baking.
- Some people add oats to the cinnamon/sugar for a streusel topping.
- You could also mix some raisins or nuts into the cake batter.
- Authentic Irish apple cake is usually topped with a vanilla custard sauce called creme anglaise. I prefer the brown butter whiskey sauce. Try that or Jack Daniels caramel sauce if you want to switch things up.
This is an overview of the instructions. Full instructions are in the green recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Grate in the cold butter.
- Sift in the sugar and add the chopped apples.
- Whisk the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and add it to the apple/flour mixture.
- Spoon into a springform pan.
- Heat the butter until it starts to brown—watch it carefully.
- Off heat, add the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Whisk and place back on the heat, boiling until the sugar dissolves.
- Add a few spoonfuls of the hot mixture to a small bowl with the egg yolks. Whisk, then add this egg mixture back to the pan.
- Boil again, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add whiskey.
🎥 Video: How to make brown butter
🥫 How to store leftovers
Traditional Irish apple cake is such a treat—we don't usually have any left over. However, if you do, here's how to make it last!
Place the cake into an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap. Store it at room temperature for up to two days.
After that, transfer it to the fridge, and it'll keep for three more days.
Make your delicious fall treat last even longer. Sealed tightly in plastic, Irish apple cake lasts up to three months in the freezer.
You can thaw it in the fridge or at room temperature. Enjoy it as is, or pop it into the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up.
💭 Things to know
Expert Tip: The cake batter isn't super smooth—it's packed with apples. So, don't be afraid if it looks a little different than traditional wet batter.
- Don't cut the apples into too small of pieces. You want them thick and rustic—many people say that's their favorite part of this cake.
- I like to freeze the butter for a few minutes so it's easier to grate. You can also use a pastry cutter—like when making a crust for apple pie!
- Cake flour won't work—it's too delicate. AP is the way to go.
- I recommend reading through a recipe once in full before getting started. Especially with brown butter, the process moves quickly. You don't want anything to burn while you're measuring or reading steps.
- Be sure to watch my video to learn the visual cues of brown butter. For the best flavor, you should let it darken just past golden brown.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then, remove it and let it fully cool. Cutting into the cake while warm will make it crumble apart.
Any tart apples that keep their shape when cooked are perfect. I prefer Honeycrisp, Grannysmith, or Winesap. Fuji, Gala, and Braeburns work well, too.
On average, 3 or 4 tennis ball-sized apples weigh about a pound. So, for this recipe, you'll need 6 to 8 medium-sized apples. Use more to your taste—though, using fewer apples will make your cake smaller.
If everything is evenly incorporated—no clumps of flour—you're good to go. Overmixing makes cake tough. This comes together like a cross between a biscuit and an American coffee cake, so the final texture is supposed to be crumbly and light.
No, I really recommend a springform. This cake is full of apples, so it's likely to tear and crumble if you try to tip it out of a normal pan. Plus, this cake bakes taller than the sides of most standard cake layer pans.
Start checking at the 50-minute mark with a toothpick (wet batter means keep baking) or an instant thermometer. The center temperature will read 200 degrees F when it's done. It takes me about 60 minutes, but each oven is different.
This process is called tempering. If you add eggs straight into a hot liquid, they'll scramble immdiately and you'll have chunky sauce. Tempering slowly warms the eggs so you get rich, smooth structure.
📚 Related recipes
- Amish Apple Fritter Bread is a fun treat that tastes like it came from your favorite bakery. It's easy to make and even easier to chow down on.
- With buttery pecans and a super moist texture, this Easy Apple Bundt Cake recipe is a fall staple in many homes—is yours next?
- If you like apple streusel, you'll adore this Swedish Apple Pie. It's a classic recipe that tastes like good 'ol vintage fall goodness.
🍽️ Serve with...
- A melty scoop of French Vanilla Ice Cream turns Irish apple cake into the best a la mode dessert combo ever.
- Apple Cider Sangria is an autumn-spiced cocktail that tastes great both for fall football parties and by the fire during the holidays.
- Use your leftover apples in these delicious Ham and Cheese Biscuits. They're a yummy lunch or easy dinner recipe and just hit the spot!
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📞 The last word
This moist cake is an imagination-inspiring addition to your table whether as a dessert or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. One bite and you'll be imagining faded chintz sofas, crackling fires, and steaming cups of good Irish tea.
It's similar to an American coffee cake; not too sweet and just right with a cup of coffee or tea.
If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card you can adjust the measurements up or down for the exact number of servings you need.
If you love this recipe please comment below and give it 5 stars!
Authentic Irish Apple CakePrint Pin Recipe Save Recipe
- 3 cups flour, , all purpose
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt, Kosher - if using regular salt cut back to ¼ teaspoon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, , fresh grated
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon chipotle, ground
- ¾ cup butter, , very cold
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 pounds apples, , honeycrisp - granny smith - winesap or similar
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Brown Butter Whiskey Sauce
- ⅓ cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup, , light
- ¼ cup water
- 2 egg yolks, , , whisked until well blended
- 4 tablespoons Whiskey , , I prefer a smoky Scotch for this but use your favorite
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- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
- Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, hisk together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
- Grate cold butter into flour mixture, mixing it up often to keep the shreds of butter from sticking together.
- Stir from the bottom so that the butter is completely mixed with the flour mixture.
- Stir in the 1 cup of sugar.
- Place the flour and butter mixture in the freezer while you prepare the apples.
- Peel and core apples then cut in chunks about the size of game dice.
- Add apples to flour mixture and toss to evenly coat the apples and keep them from sticking together.
- Whisk eggs, milk, and vanilla until blended.
- Pour the egg mixture over the apple and flour mixture.
- Mix well to incorporate all of the flour - you'll probably need to use your hands. You don't want to see any dry flour but don't over-mix..
- Spoon into the prepared springform pan and pat down gently to even the top.
- Combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Run a knife between the cake and the springform pan and remove the sides - let cool completely.
- It's nice to sprinkle with some Confectioner's sugar but not essential.
Whiskey Brown Butter Sauce
- Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan until it is golden brown - watch carefully.
- Remove from the heat and add the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Whisk together and then place back on the heat.
- Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure the sugar is dissolved.
- Whisk some of the hot mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly.
- Add the eggs back into the hot mixture, whisking constantly.
- Bring just to a boil and boil for 1 minute or so, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and stir in the whiskey.
- Pour into a Mason jar or other storage container until ready to use. Warm before pouring over cake.
- There isn't much batter. This cake is mostly apples with a little cake holding them in shape. Don't worry that the batter isn't what you were expecting!
- The cake is done when a toothpick poked in the center comes out with a few crumbs sticking to it and the top of the cake is firm. You can also poke an insta-read thermometer in the center. It will read 200F when done.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then remove it and let it cool down the rest of the way. If you cut it too warm it will fall apart.
Nutrition information is estimated as a courtesy. If using for medical purposes, please verify information using your own nutritional calculator. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
First published February 27, 2019. Last updated September 23, 2023 for better images and more information.