While most countries have their own spin on a delicious apple confection, Ireland is most known for its Kerry Apple Cake (also known as Irish Apple Cake). It might be a little closer to an apple bread, but it’s got the perfect touch of sweetness running through the batter, plus a sprinkling of sugar on top before it bakes in the oven gives it a gorgeous (and delicious) crackled top that ties everything together. Not only that, but there’s also a silky smooth custard sauce that gets drizzled over the top…perfection, we tell you.
Let’s dive deeper into this cake, shall we? First off, this cake is jam-packed and stuffed to the brim with apples. This is truly a behemoth of a batter; don’t be surprised when it doesn’t come together the way a typical cake batter would. Instead of creaming together your butter and sugar, this cake comes together a bit more like a shortbread, with butter getting cut into the dry ingredients, then only after the apples get folded into the butter and flour mixture do the wet ingredients get poured in. Do your best to not overmix the batter – we still want the cake to be light and fluffy – then pour it into a springform pan and top it off with a generous sprinkle of sugar.
Once the whole thing goes into the oven you can focus on making the custard. Yes, you have to temper six egg yolks, but don’t be intimidated – it’s actually easy! The important thing here is to keep your saucepan on medium (or even medium-low!) heat. Warm your milk until it’s just scalded and there are bubbles along the edge of the pan, then pour that mixture into your egg yolks while you whisk continuously. This slowly raises the temperature of the eggs so they don’t scramble when you return them to the stove. They’ll thicken on the heat and give the custard sauce all its rich creaminess.
Once this gets drizzled over the cake, the jig is up. Anyone who had been able to abstain from devouring a slice will surely cave (and be so glad they did.) This is a traditional dessert that’s time-tested and absolutely deserving of its spot in our recipe tin.
Irish Apple Cake
1 hour 20 minutes to prepare serves 8-10
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
- 3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons (for sprinkling on top of cake)
- 4 large granny smith apples, peeled and sliced thickly
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- Custard sauce:
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375º F and lightly grease and flour a springform pan.
- In a medium bowl, beat together eggs and milk until fully combined.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles pebbles, then mix in sugar and fold in apples until evenly incorporated.
- Pour beaten eggs and milk into apple mixture, mixing until a thick, dough-like batter begins to come together.
- Once wet ingredients have been completely folded into dry mixture, transfer dough to prepared springform pan and spread into an even layer, then sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons sugar.
- Place cake pan in oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top of cake is golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
- For the sauce: whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until light yellow and ribbony. 2-3 minutes.
- Pour milk into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and scald until almost boiling, when bubbles just start to appear on outer edge of milk.
- Remove milk from heat and, while whisking continuously, pour into egg mixture until smooth, then return all of mixture to saucepan.
- Over medium heat, cook custard for 3-5 minutes, or until it thickens slightly and coats the back of spoon.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract, then transfer to serving container.
- When ready to serve, cut cake into slices, top with custard and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from The Kitchen McCabe