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This moist and tender Cast Iron Irish Apple Cake recipe is an easy traditional dessert in Ireland. This heritage apple cake recipe is a simple and tasty dessert or snack cake everyone will love. It has simple flavors and just a hint of spice!
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Like little pots of gold, heritage recipes like this simple and delicious Cast Iron Skillet Apple Cake are treasures like no others. The Irish are known for their simple yet incredibly delicious recipes that have, for generations, passed from mother to daughter in farmhouses all over that beautiful country.
Irish Apple Cake History
Originally, Irish apple cakes were steamed in pots beside an open fire before ovens became commonplace. They were also largely made from slightly smaller than we’re used to crab apples, which are in abundant supply in Ireland. Irish apples are so plentiful, in fact, The Irish Times says the “Irish spend €100 million annually on apples.” That’s a lot of apples!
Today, apple cakes are baked in ovens all across the lush, green Irish countryside, as well as by thousands of expats around the world craving a taste of home.
Apples, especially crab apples, play a significant role in Irish and Celtic mythology. The legendary Avalon, the location where King Arthur was taken to recover from his wounds after fighting Mordred at the Battle of Camlann, is considered a sacred Isle of the apple trees.
Why is this Apple Cake baked in a skillet?
I like to bake this sweet and delicious authentic Irish Apple Cake in a cast-iron skillet. It’s a better conductor of heat, giving the edges that crispy texture we love. Plus, I love to serve warm wedges right from the skillet. Somehow, it just seems to add an additional layer of flavor and coziness. It is also closer to how these cakes were originally baked near a cooking fire.
Can I bake this cake in a tin instead?
Yes of course, if you don’t have a cast-iron skillet to hand! Just line it with baking parchment as you would a skillet and proceed with the recipe.
Should I use Irish butter for this recipe?
If you can find it, yes! It is much creamier and adds a wonderful richness to the cake. European butter is also a good substitute – you can use any leftover in (or spread onto slices of) my Irish Soda Bread – or in any other baked good where you can really taste the butter!
What sort of apples should I use for this apple cake?
Whatever you can get your hands on – different varieties of apples will give different results, some sweeter and some tarter than others, but any apple will bake a delicious apple cake! Experiment to see which variety of apple you like best in this recipe.
Cast Iron Irish Apple Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 8 tablespoons butter 1 stick
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- medium apple sliced thinly (about 1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Dash of ground cloves and a dash of cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium-size bowl, Add the flour and baking powder. Cut 8 tablespoons of butter into the flour using a pastry cutter or your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the flour and butter mixture.
- Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the beaten egg, milk, and vanilla. Mix until a soft dough forms. Almost scone-like.
- Spoon and press dough into the bottom of the parchment-lined skillet. Layer thinly sliced apples over the dough. Combine 1 tablespoon of sugar and a dash each of ground cloves and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the apples.
- Place the skillet on the middle rack of your oven. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Then, switch the oven to broil. Keep the apple cake in the oven and broil, on the middle rack, 2-3 minutes or until the edges of the cake are golden brown. This step is optional… but I love the added crispness.
- Allow the cake to cool slightly, cut into wedges and dust with powdered sugar. Or serve with whipped cream — or ice cream — all of which makes a delightfully delicious topping to this Irish Apple Cake!
Doubling the RecipeI’ve not tested doubling this recipe. If you do double it, here is a great tutorial on scaling up cake recipes.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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