Irish Apple Cake is a traditional dessert in Ireland. Recipes for the moist and tender cake is as varied as the beautiful people that occupy the Emerald Isle. Heritage recipes continually passing from mother to daughter in farmhouses all over the country for generations.
Originally, Irish apple cakes were steamed in pots beside an open fire. And largely made from crab apples, of which are in abundant supply in Ireland. So plentiful, in fact, The Irish Times say the “Irish spend €100 million annually on apples.”
Today, apple cakes are baked in ovens all across the lush, green Irish countryside.
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.
The apple, especially crab apples, play a significant role in Irish and Celtic mythology. Most specifically, the crab apple. The legendary Avalon, the place where King Arthur was taken after fighting Mordred at the Battle of Camlann to recover from his wounds, was the sacred Isle of the Apple Trees.
Cast Iron Irish Apple Cake
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup thinly sliced apple, peeled (1 medium apple)
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Add flour and baking powder to a medium size bowl. Cut in 1 stick, 8 tablespoons butter, into the flour 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.
Line a 10-inch cast iron skillet with a sheet of parchment paper. 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-degrees for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Keep the apple cake in the oven and broil, on the middle rack, 2-3 minutes or until the edges of the cake is browned. This step is optional… but I love the added crispness.
Allow to cool slightly, cut into wedges and dust with powdered sugar. Or serve with whipped cream — or ice cream — all of which make a delightfully delicious topping to this Irish Apple Cake!