New Recipe: How to make the perfect Irish apple cake and the common mistakes to avoid

An apple cake is a fuss-free endeavour, so this is not a reason to haul your cake mixer out of its hiding spot in the press. The dough for apple cake is pressed onto plate or a tin and dolloped on top meaning that there is very little you can do wrong at all, really.

Eating apples only please

For ease and also because this is what my Granny said, only eating apples go in apple cake. They keep their shape and require less sugar than cooking apples, and provide some much needed texture in the cake. 

Don’t stick with one fruit

Once you’ve made this cake, the fruit-filled world is your oyster. In autumn, go wild and use blackberries as well as apples, in summer utilise stone fruit like peaches or plums. In winter, I like to use tinned fruit like peaches, pineapple or when I’m feeling particularly excitable, a tin of fruit cocktail. 

Spice is always nice

Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla are all very good friends with apples, so add a smidge of your favourite to make your apple cake your own. 

Go square for ease

If you are making a double batch (highly recommended), I suggest making it in a brownie tin or small roasting tin – that way when it is perfectly cooled you can slice into squares. 

Irish apple cake

This cake would originally have been baked in a bastible or pot beside an open fire and later in the oven or stove on tin or enamel plates – much better than ovenproof glass because the heat travels through and cooks the pastry base more readily.

Irish apple cake

Preparation Time

30 mins

Total Time

1 hours 10 mins


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

  2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl.

  3. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles the texture of breadcrumbs.

  4. Add 75g caster sugar, make a well in the centre and mix to a soft dough with the beaten egg and enough milk to form a soft dough.

  5. Divide in two. Put one half onto a greased ovenproof plate and pat out with floured fingers to cover the base.

  6. Peel, core and chop up the apples, place them on the dough and add 45g sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples.

  7. Roll out the remaining pastry and fit on top. This is easier said than done as this ‘pastry’ is more like scone dough and as a result is very soft. Press the sides together, cut a slit through the lid, egg wash and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes approximately, or until cooked through and nicely browned.

  8. Dredge with caster sugar and serve warm with Barbados sugar and softly whipped cream.

    Taken from Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen.

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