Legend has it that St. Patrick planted an apple tree in Armagh County – also known today as “Orchard County” – an area recognized for its apple blossom tours and festivals. This cake, made from simple ingredients, is uncomplicated, easy to make, and so honest in its appearance and deliciously satisfying in flavor.
Irish Apple Cake
Serves 8 to 12
2 large baking apples
1 ¼ cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus a little extra for greasing the pan
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons whole milk
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting, if you’re serving it cold.
For crumb topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Optional plating garnish:
Sprigs of fresh mint
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Generously grease a 9-inch springform pan with the extra butter reserved for this purpose.
Make the crumb topping first. Sift the flour into a medium sized bowl, and cut in the butter by rubbing the flour and butter together with your fingertips. It will turn into a bread crumb-like texture. Mix in the sugar with your hands. Easy. Set aside.
For the cake:
Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples, to about 1/8 – ¼ inch thickness. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar until light in color and smoothly blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, and beat on low speed.
With the mixer still on low, gradually add flour mixture to the wet mixture. Slowly pour in the milk. When fully incorporated, you’re done mixing.
Scoop the batter into the buttered springform pan, smoothing the top to make level. Using a circular pattern, place the apple slices on top of the batter. (It doesn’t have to be perfect, as it gets covered with the crumb mixture. You just want even coverage.) Top with the crumb mixture.
Bake for 1 hour, or until lightly browned and firm to the touch.
Serve warm, unadorned, or if serving as a dessert, try it with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
If serving cooled, give it a dusting of confectioner’s sugar – my fave for to elevating the look of this cake.
No matter how you slice it, this cake is wonderful.