Irish Apple Cake

Apple cakes like this one are the traditional sweet in Ireland. The recipe varies from house to house and the individual technique has been passed from mother to daughter for generations. It 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 oven proof glass because the heat travels through and cooks the pastry base more readily.

Serves 6 (approximately)

  • 225g (8oz) plain flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 110g (4oz) butter
  • 125g (4½oz) caster sugar
  • 1 egg, free-range if possible, beaten
  • 50–120ml (2–4fl oz) milk, approx.
  • 1–2 cooking apples – we use Bramley Seedling or Grenadier
  • 2–3 cloves (optional)
  • beaten egg, to glaze


  • Barbados sugar
  • softly whipped cream
  • 24cm (9in) ovenproof pie plate

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles the texture of breadcrumbs. Add 85g (3oz) caster sugar, then make a well in the centre and mix together with the beaten egg and enough milk to form a soft dough. Divide in two. Put one half on to your greased ovenproof plate and pat it out to cover. Peel, core and chop up the apples. Place them on the dough with the cloves, if using, and sprinkle over the remaining sugar – the amount you need will depend on the sweetness of the apples. Roll out the remaining pastry and fit it on top. (This is easier said than done as this ‘pastry’ is very soft like scone dough. You may need to do a bit of patchwork if it breaks.) Press the sides together and cut a slit through the lid. Brush with beaten egg and bake in a moderate oven (180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4) for about 40 minutes, or until cooked through and nicely browned. Dredge with caster sugar and serve warm with Barbados sugar and softly whipped cream.

Download the Irish Apple Cake recipe as a PDF.

Tags: ,