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Small Irish Apple Cake

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with this easy recipe for a small Irish apple cake.  This 6-inch cake is moist, full of tart green apples, and topped with a sweet oat streusel crumble.  Serve the cake with a caramel cream drizzle for dessert, or a sweet breakfast treat!

Moist inside of a slice of Irish apple cake on a cake stand.

A Traditional Irish Dessert

First, a brief snippet on the history of this traditional Irish dessert.  The Irish apple cake is more commonly known in Ireland as a Kerry Apple Cake.  Which refers to the area in Ireland where it is said to have originated.  Apples are abundant in Ireland, and come apple harvest season, this cake is about as common as Apple Pie in America.

History tells us the apple cake was baked in a cast iron pot over fire.  And over time, American bakers have put their own spin on the apple cake.  The traditional foundation of the cake is preserved, but you may find different spices in the cake, a different custard sauce, or the streusel topping may or may not be present.   

What is common among all (that I have seen) recipes, is the crumb of the cake and the apples.  The cake is a moist and tender and the apples are tart and crisp.  So, you will find most recipes call for Granny Smith apples.  

Caramel drizzle over a moist slice of cake on a white plate.

small Irish Apple Cake recipe

I make this cake often, and there are a lot of things I love about this little cake!

  • The cake is easy to  make – You don’t need to cream the butter for Irish apple cake!  The cold butter makes the cake tender and helps the cake rise.  Similar to how butter works in homemade biscuits.  And, this method of preparation is called the reverse creaming.  Which yields a super soft cake.  Much like my small vanilla cake recipe.
  • You only need a few ingredients – Which, you may already have on hand!  You may have to run to the grocery for the apple. 🙂   
  • No mixer required – The cake comes together easily by hand.  
  • This is a small cake – Great portions, perfect for two!  Plus, you only need one cake pan.   
  • Lightly Sweet – The Irish apple cake is delicately sweet which allows the apples to shine!  
  • A Little Spicy – Cinnamon and sugar come together to add complimentary flavor to the apple.
Slice of apple cake with caramel drizzle and a side of apple slices on a white plate.

All The INgredients You Need To Make IRish Apple Cake

  • Granny Smith Apple
  • Egg
  • Milk
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Baking Powder
  • Ground Cinnamon and Ginger
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Oats & Brown Sugar for The Topping 
  • Caramel Sauce
  • Heavy Cream
Close up of chunky apples inside a slice of apple cake.

Helpful Irish Apple Cake Tips

  • Use a tart and crisp apple – I typically prefer a Honeycrisp apple when I bake.  However, in this cake, the Granny Smith apple retains shape and flavor, without getting too mushy in the cake.
  • Slice the apples thin – This will allow the apples to bake through.  
  • Use cold butter – For both the cake and the streusel.  The cold butter will release moisture when bake.  Which makes the cake tender, and it helps it rise.
  • Use any spice – You really can use any baking spices you like.  I have seen recipes that add nutmeg, allspice, and even mace.
  • Make the parchment paper sling – Because the cake has a streusel topping, we need to be able to lift the cake out of the pan.  You could also use a 6-inch springform pan.
  • Test the cake – Testing the cake with a toothpick may be harder than normal because the Irish apple cake is tall and toothpicks are short.  If you have a skewer or fondue fork, this will work too.  
  • Serve for breakfast or dessert – This cake reminds me of a cross between a coffee cake and apple pie.  Which gave me the great idea of having a slice with my morning cup of coffee!

Here’s to a little Luck of the Irish to ya!

Small cake with fruit and streusel topping on a white cake stand.

FAQ’S

Can I double the recipe to make a larger cake?

Yes! I recommend an 8-inch cake pan and start checking at 40 minutes.

What is the best apple to use in the cake?

I recommend Granny Smith because they are tart and crisp. Other crisp apples that will work: Honeycrisp or Pink Lady.

How do I store the cake?

Store the Irish apple cake covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. Beyond that, and it may start to dry out.

Can I freeze the cake?

Yes! The apple cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Thaw in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

A small Irish apple cake with a slice cut out on a white platter.
Moist inside of a slice of Irish apple cake on a cake stand.
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5 from 6 reviews

Small Irish Apple Cake

Yield: 4 Servings
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with this easy recipe for a small Irish apple cake.  This 6-inch cake is moist, full of tart green apples, and topped with a sweet oat streusel crumble.  Serve the cake with a caramel cream drizzle for dessert, or a sweet breakfast treat!
Prep15 minutes
Cook40 minutes
Total55 minutes

Ingredients
 

Caramel Cream Sauce

  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons caramel sauce (store-bought is fine)

Streusel Topping

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

Apple Cake

  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons milk, any kind
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

Instructions

Caramel Cream Sauce

  • Make the caramel sauce first – In a small saucepan, add the cream, milk, and caramel sauce. Heat to a low-boil over medium heat, stirring frequently with a spatula, until the mix starts to thicken. This may take about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a glass jar (or heatproof container) and allow to cool at room temperature. The sauce will thicken more as it cools. Note The sauce can be made head of time and refrigerated.
    ¼ cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons whole milk, 3 tablespoons caramel sauce

Streusel Topping

  • In a small mixing bowl, add the flour, oats, sugars, and cubed butter. Cut the cubed butter into the mix using a pastry cutter, two forks, or your fingers. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons rolled oats, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

Apple Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Lightly grease a 6-inch cake pan. Cut two 3-inch strips of parchment paper long enough to hang over the sides of the pan, and lay in a cross in the cake pan. The overhang is used as a sling to lift the cake out of the pan.
  • Peel, core, and slice the apple into thin slices. Cut the apple slices into thirds.
    1 Granny Smith apple
  • In a small mixing bowl whisk togher the egg and milk.
    1 large egg, room temperature, 2 tablespoons milk, any kind
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and spices. Add in the cold cubed butter. Cut the butter into the flour mixture – using a pastry cutter, two forks, or your fingers – until the butter is in small (gravel size) pieces.
    ½ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, ¼ cup granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • Add the prepared apples to the flour mixture and toss to coat the apples. Pour the wet ingredients over the top of the dry and stir until no flour streaks remain.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out evenly. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the top of the batter.
  • Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean, and the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan. Note – The apples and the streusel may make it difficult to use the toothpick test. You may have to test a couple different areas in the middle until you don't hit an apple. You can also use a long skewer to test.
  • Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then carefully lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang, and cool the cake completely on the wire rack. Drizzle with the caramel cream sauces and the cake can be served slightly warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
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RECIPE NOTES

  • Serving Size – This is a small batch recipe that can be doubled and made in an 8-inch cake pan.  Start checking the cake at 40 minutes.
  • Yield – The recipe as written will yield a small 6-inch cake.  You can get 4 to 6 slices of cake – depending on how large you make the slices.
  • Caramel Sauce – I used store bought caramel sauce.  If you want to make your own, try my maple syrup caramel sauce.  
  • Apple – I recommend tart and crisp apples for this recipe – such as Granny Smith. 
  • Storing – The cake can be stored covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Beyond that, and it may start to dry out.
  • Freezing – You can freeze the baked cake for up to 3 months.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.  Thaw in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American, Irish
Author: Erin Cernich

NUTRITION ESTIMATES

Serving: 4g | Calories: 554kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 114mg | Sodium: 137mg | Potassium: 187mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 923IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 3mg
Nutrition information is calculated by a third-party and should only be considered an estimate and not a guarantee.
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about the author ...

I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!

I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you! Click here to learn more about me!

5 from 6 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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comments & reviews

6 thoughts on “Small Irish Apple Cake”

  1. 5 stars
    This was perfect for my little family’s st. Patrick’s day dinner. And we had the leftovers for breakfast the next day. Favorite apple cake recipe I’ve tried. I think the small size helped with the problems I’ve had with other recipes staying soggy in the middle. We will definitely be making this again and again!

  2. 5 stars
    I was looking this morning for a 6-inch apple cake and ran across your website. This was exactly what I was looking for! I didn’t make the caramel sauce but it didn’t need it, in my opinion. It is divine!

    My only changes were using 2 small Honeycrisp because I didn’t have a Granny Smith on hand. I also added a dash of salt, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, and doubled the brown sugar in the streusel. (and used almond milk -unsweetened- without any taste issue).

    This will definitely be my go-to apple cake when I want something small and just enough to curb those sweet cravings. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Love hearing this – thank you Amy! So glad you enjoyed the cake and thank you for visiting the blog.

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