A St. Patrick’s Day Classic Dessert
Irish Apple Cake with Custard Sauce is a classic dish embodying the soul of Ireland’s culinary thought. Since St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland is rumored to have planted the first apple tree in Ceangoba, an ancient settlement east of the city of Armagh, this dessert is a fitting addition to any St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Ultra delicious with a cup of tea or coffee, this cake is substantial and hearty enough to stick with you on those cold morning walks. The consistency will be slightly different from cakes made in the United States. If done properly, Irish Apple Cake will have a cake/pudding texture. The delicious juice from the apples will not only give the cake its rich flavor but will also keep it super moist.
Irish Apple Cake with Custard Sauce
- food processor
- rubber spatula
- 8 inch springform pan
- mixing bowls
- toothpicks or bamboo skewer for testing doneness
- 3 cups flour, all-purpose or plain
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ⅛ tsp salt, kosher
- ¼ tsp cloves, ground
- ¼ tsp nutmeg, fresh ground
- ¾ cup sugar, granulated
- 6 oz butter softened
- 3 large apples, Honey-Crisps peeled, cored, sliced, and quartered. (Granny Smiths, or any locally available)
- 2 whole eggs
- ¾ cup milk, whole
- 2 tbsp sanding sugar
- 3 whole egg yolks (Reserve the egg whites for another use, if desired)
- 3 tbsp sugar, granulated or caster
- ¾ cup milk, whole
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 whole vanilla bean split, seeds scraped out into the milk/cream mixture
Prepare the Cake
- In the work bowl of a food processor, add the flour, baking powder, salt, ground clove, ground nutmeg, and sugar.
- Add cold butter cut into small chunks to the flour mixture.
- Place the lid on the food processor and pulse until the butter is worked into the flour/spice mixture.
- Turn the mixture out into a large mixing bowl. (If you don't have a food processor, you can accomplish this by cutting the butter into the flour on a large work surface with two knives, chopping as you go until the butter is incorporated.)
- In a smaller and separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream. Whisk until incorporated.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Stir and fold to mix into the dry mixture using a rubber spatula. Once the mixture is uniform and all of the dry mix is incorporated, stop and reserve.
- Peel the apples by hand, if you wish. Remove the peel and cut out the seeds, then cut the apple into small chunks. (I use an apple peeling, coring, and slicing tool that accomplishes this in no time.) Next, slice the apples into quarter-sized pieces. See images above.
- Using the rubber spatula, mix the apple pieces into the cake batter. While it may look like there are too many apples in the batter, the cake will absorb all the apples and the juice they give off.
Baking the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
- Prepare an 8" inch/20cm Springform pan with Baker's Ease or by coating the entire inside of the pan with a thin layer of butter.
- Add a small amount of flour to the pan, shaking it around the inside until the butter is well coated. Tap out any excess flour. You can use a 9-inch springform pan, but the cake will not be as tall as the 8-inch pan. Still, it will be extremely delicious.
- Add the apple cake batter to the prepared pan. Press down with the rubber spatula to get all the cake batter into the dish. (Optionally, generously sprinkle the cake with sanding sugar or raw Turbinado sugar.)
- Set the pan on a sheet pan and place it in the center of the preheated oven—Bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Timing will depend on the type of apples you are using.
- At 1 hour, start checking for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. The cake is ready when the toothpick comes out clean without any wet batter. When the cake is cooked, please remove it from the oven and rest for 20 minutes in the springform pan.
Making the Irish Custard Sauce
- While the cake is resting, prepare the custard sauce. Start by separating 3 egg yolks and reserve. Then, save the egg whites for another use.
- In a medium saucepan, add the milk, cream, sugar, and split vanilla bean. Warm over medium heat until just before the milk mixture boils.
- Pour 1/3 cup of the milk/cream mixture into the egg yolks and whisk them together to temper the eggs.
- Once whisked together, add the egg yolk/cream mixture back into the remaining milk/cream mixture in the saucepot, gently stirring with a whisk.
- Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula to get all of the egg yolk mixtures into the saucepot. Stir the cream/egg/vanilla mixture constantly and slowly bring it back to temperature over medium heat. The sauce will thicken quickly with the egg yolks.
- To test, dip a clean spoon into the sauce. Next, draw a finger across the sauce in the spoon. The sauce is ready when the line you made on the spoon holds its shape and does not bleed across.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and pass through a fine sieve. Reserve or use right away. The sauce can be made a day or two before and kept in the refrigerator if necessary.
Serving the Irish Apple Cake
- While still warm, cut a generous slice of the Irish Apple Cake and place it on a serving dish. Serve with a side of the Irish Custard Sauce and enjoy.