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Cast Iron Irish Apple Cake

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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!

Cast Iron Apple Cake in a parchment lined cast iron skillet on a green wood background.

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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.

Basket of apples on a wooden table.

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.

Irish Apple Cake in a Cast Iron Skillet
Cast Iron Apple Cake in a parchment lined cast iron skillet on a green wood background.

Cast Iron Irish Apple Cake

Irish Apple Cake is a traditional dessert in Ireland. Recipes for the moist and tender cast iron cake are as varied as the beautiful people who live in the Emerald Isle. This heritage recipe is a simple and tasty dessert everyone will love.
4.6 from 34 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 10 – 12 servings
Author: Stephanie Wilson

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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!

Notes

Doubling the Recipe

I’ve not tested doubling this recipe. If you do double it, here is a great tutorial on scaling up cake recipes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 154mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g

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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Course: Desserts
Cuisine: Irish
Keyword: apple cake recipe, cast iron apple cake, irish apple cake, skillet cake

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47 Comments

    1. This cake will keep tightly wrapped at room temperature for 2-4 days or refrigerated for 4 days.

  1. I want to make this for my bridge club this St. Paddies day.
    Can I put it together the day before and bake it the day of?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Susan! It should be fine to make the batter ahead but I wouldn’t slice the apples until just before baking as they can turn brown. Have fun at your St. Paddies Bridge club!!

    1. You know what? I’ve never baked this in a loaf pan– only a cake pan and a cast-iron skillet. The ingredient measurements are similar to a quick bread, though, so I’m fairly certain it would work well. If you try it, I would bake it at 350 degrees in an 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan. Watch it closely but I would think it would bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Would love to know how it turns out if you try it!

  2. Looks delicious and easy to make. Won’t the parchment go on fire under the broiler or do you remove it before?.

    1. Hi Rita — yes, the parchment WOULD burn under the broiler. I do not raise the shelf near the heat and broil for only seconds, never taking my eyes off the cake.

  3. Hi Cynthia,
    Can this be made the day before and reheated in the cast iron? I love the rustic cast iron pan to serve from, but also love to get as many dishes prepared before the party date.

    1. I love serving out of a cast-iron skillet too! The cake can definitely be made ahead and reheated. I would, however, not bake it too far in advance unless you plan to freeze it and then reheat it. It’s always best as close to baking as possible! But I totally agree, I like to make as much in advance as possible!

  4. 4 stars
    I made this recipe on St. Patrick’s Day and unfortunately, I was very disappointed with the results. I’ll explain why. I read through the recipe and thought it sounded yummy and easy to make. Wanting a bigger cake, I printed out the double recipe (scale: x2). Followed it to a t, but…of course it took MUCH longer to bake – almost double the time. When it came time to eat it, it was very, very dry. I went back and checked the recipe to make sure I followed it right and noticed that although the recipe had called for 2 sticks of butter, the instructions used only 1. No wonder it was dry as a bone! It looks like the instructions for the larger cakes have the same instructions as for the single version. Please make the corrections for future users to save them grief, i.e. instead of instructing to use 1 stick of butter, say use all the butter mentioned in the ingredients. Will I try it again? Maybe.

    1. You can do it either way, but I usually peel the apple and press it into the batter before baking.

  5. Hi I have 12 inch cast iron pan. Can i make it in that and would that change the amount of time it would need to cook. Or can you recommend how long to cook it for in a 9 inch cake pan
    Thx

    1. Hi Cathy! I would opt for the 9-inch cake pan instead. The 12-inch cast iron won’t let the cake get a lot of rise. Coat the cake pan well, but don’t line it with parchment paper. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. I always like to see a few crumbs. Enjoy!!

  6. Pingback: Ireland – Food Around the World Project
    1. It’s a super easy, simple, authentically Irish cake. I make it in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, but have also made it in a 9-inch cake pan. Watch the baking time when switching between a skillet and a cake pan. The cake should make about 8 wedges. Enjoy!

  7. 5 stars
    this cake sounds so yummy….I Have a set of cast iron pans I use all the time. Can I use cooking spray instead of parchment paper?

  8. This is delicious! I sliced a barely ripe pear on top instead of the apple and it worked out perfectly. A plum would be fun to try too.

    1. Hi Marianna! What a great idea – that’s on my baking list this week! I have made it with a plum β€” and it’s really good too! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. A simple but traditional cake! You’ve inspired me β€” I’m going to join you and make it this weekend too ??.

  9. 5 stars
    Smells great- was an easy recipe. Texture is more like a tart than a cake. Hope it tastes good!!!!

    1. Hi Kay! It is such an easy recipe and one a dear Irish woman game me from her family. I’m so in love with their comfort food!

  10. 5 stars
    Smells great- was an easy recipe. Texture is more like a tart than a cake. Hope it tastes good!!!!

  11. Can I double this recipe and put it in a larger cast iron skillet? If so how would the cook time change?
    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Nikki – yes, you can double the recipe. Bake it for the same amount of time. It won’t be done yet but begin checking it in 5 minute increments until a cake tester comes out clean. The baking time will not double.

  12. Hi, how do I store the left over cake, and do u remove it from the cast iron skillet before it after serving?

    1. Hi Jan! I do remove it from the cast iron skillet for storing. It can be wrapped up and stored on the counter for about a day. Any longer and I’ll refrigerate or freeze.

  13. Would the texture be changed if I add two sliced apples instead of one?
    Thank you-cannot wait to make this!

    1. Hi Brenda! Adding an extra apple shouldn’t affect the texture. I’ve not tried two apples before but I do use an extra large apple, which may be the size of two regular ones. It’s so easy — and delicious! Thanks for your question.

  14. Made this for dinner guests, everyone loved it. I even posted a picture of my end result on Facebook and now getting requests for the recipe. Thanks for this recipe, I am certain it will become part of my traditional annual St Patrick’s Day dinner from now on, but I won’t wait another year to make this again.

    1. Thank you so much Sandy! Would love to see your photo and so glad you enjoyed it! We love it too ?

  15. I’m making this cake right now and noticed the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon & 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg are not mentioned in the directions as to when to add them, I do see the dash of cinnamon and cloves to sprinkle of the apples, but that’s it. I’m adding to flour/sugar mixture and thinking I can’t go too far wrong.

    1. I’m making this right now too :). I’ll clarify the directions — thanks for catching that. You DO add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the flour mixture. Enjoy!

      1. 5 stars
        this cake sounds so yummy….I Have a set of cast iron pans I use all the time. Can I use cooking spray instead of parchment paper?

        1. Hi Cynthia! Yes you can – I like to use parchment for easy clean up and easy removal of the cake from the pan. But cooking spray should work just fine too!

          1. Can this be made ahead and reheated in the cast iron? I love the rustic look of serving it from the pan.

4.59 from 34 votes (23 ratings without comment)

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