Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with this easy recipe for an Irish Apple Mini 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 a delicious breakfast treat or dessert!
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 Irish Apple Cake is a moist and tender cake and the apples in the cake are tart and crisp. So, you will find most recipes call for Granny Smith apples.
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Easy Apple Mini Cake Recipe
Having made this Irish Apple Mini Cake many times now, there are a number of things I love about this recipe.
The most important is how easy the cake is to make.
- Creaming butter and sugar not required – This means you don’t have to worry about bringing the butter to room temperature. Additionally, the cold butter makes the cake tender and helps the cake rise. Kind of like how butter works in Buttermilk Biscuits.
- Only handful of ingredients needed – You may already have most of the ingredients on hand. With the exception of the apples.
- No mixer required – The cakes comes together easily mixing by hand. Plus, you don’t want to use a mixer because we don’t want to break up the apples.
- This is a small cake – This doesn’t necessarily mean smaller bakes are easier to make. Though, it does mean you only need one cake pan.
What Does An Irish Apple Cake Taste Like?
- Apple – As the name implies, the first flavor you taste in the cake is apple.
- Moist and Tender – No dry cake here! The mix of butter and milk help with this.
- Coffee Cake + Apple Pie – The texture of the cake is similar to coffee cake. And the flavors will remind you of apple pie. Which means, this cake is great for dessert, and breakfast, and an afternoon snack!
- Lightly Sweet – There is not an over-abundance of sugar in the recipe. This allows the apple flavor to shine through.
- A Little Spicy – We use cinnamon and ginger in this recipe for notes of spice. Feel free to add in some nutmeg, or even allspice.
What You Need To Make Irish Apple Mini Cake
- Granny Smith apple – This is what I recommend. However, feel free to try any apple you prefer.
- Milk – I use whole milk, but any milk will work.
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking powder
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground ginger – Add in or substitute ground nutmeg or allspice.
- Unsalted butter
- Rolled oats – I recommend old fashioned rolled oats, rather than instant.
- Brown sugar – I used light brown sugar because I wanted a lighter flavor in the streusel. Though, dark brown sugar will work too.
- Caramel sauce – You can either use store-bought, or make your own Maple Syrup Caramel sauce.
- Heavy cream
- 6-Inch round cake pan – These are the 6-inch round cake pans I use.
- Parchment paper – We will cut the parchment paper into 2, 3-inch wide strips. And long enough to hang over the sides of the pan. This creates a sling to lift the cake out of the pan.
Tips For Making Irish Apple Cake
- 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. I sliced my apples about 1/4-inch thick.
- 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 we are baking in a cake pan, and the cake has a streusel topping, we need to be able to lift the cake out of the pan. You could also use a springform pan.
- Test the cake – Testing the cake with a toothpick may be harder than normal because the 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!
More Mini Cake Recipes
- Mini Cherry Coffee Cake
- No-Bake Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake
- Mini Angel Food Cake
- Snow Day Cake (Almond Cardamom and Coconut)
- Mini Boston Cream Pie
Irish Apple Mini Cake
Caramel Cream Sauce
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 3 tablespoons caramel sauce - I used store-bought caramel sauce
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 2 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 1 Granny Smith apple
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons milk, any kind
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
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 silicone spatula, until the mix starts to thicken. This may take about 10-15 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 a day (days) ahead of time and refrigerated.
- 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. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Grease and lightly flour the 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. Grease and lightly flour the paper. Note – I use Pam cooking spray with flour.
- Peel, core, and slice the apple into thin slices. Cut the apple slices into thirds.
- In a small bowl, add the egg and milk. Whish until thoroughly combined.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger. Whisk to combine. 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.
- Add the prepared apples into the flour mixture and toss to coat the apples. Pour the wet ingredients over the top of the dry and stir (with a spatula or wooden spoon) 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 – 45 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown, and a toothpick (or knife) comes out mostly clean. You will also the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan. Note – the apples in the cake and 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. I also use a long fondue fork to test this cake, as my toothpicks are long enough.
- 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!
- Caramel Sauce – I used store bought caramel sauce. If you want to make your own, you can try the Maple Syrup Caramel Sauce.
- Brown Sugar – I prefer light brown sugar in the streusel topping for a lighter flavor. However, dark brown sugar will also work.
- Apple – I recommend tart and crisp apples for this recipe – such as Granny Smith.
- High Altitude Bakers – Your cake may bake faster than lower altitude bakers. Start checking the cake at 40 minutes.