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Irish Apple Cake. Apple Cake has to be one of the most delicious cakes a person can bake. You cannot beat a cake that is filled with sweet tender slices of apple and warm baking spices. Unless you are talking about an “Irish” Apple Cake.
And then the combination becomes absolutely unbeatable. Tender apple slices baked in a cake batter and then topped with a wholesome oat streusel. Add flaked almonds to that streusel and you have one very delicious cake!
Every year I like to bake an Irish Apple Cake for Saint Patrick’s Day. The first time I made it, I made a recipe adapted from a recipe I got from a Rachel Allen Cookery Book. If you are not familiar with who she is, she is the daughter in law of Darina Allen, the doyenne of Irish cookery.
They run the Ballymaloe House, Restaurant and Cookery School in Ireland. I had always wanted to go to this cookery school, but never got there.
I am not sure what makes this an Irish Cake. I would say more that it is a cake in the European tradition, in that it is somewhat denser than North American Cakes, and the manner of putting it together is also somewhat different.
It is kind of done in layers. You make a cake batter, which you spread in the pan and top with sliced apple, topping that finally with a streusel layer. This year I added some flaked almonds to the streusel to amp it up. Lovely-icious!
The cake itself is moist and delicious, lightly spiced with cinnamon. You put it together in a way that is very different than North American cakes. You rub the butter into the flour, almost like you would do if you were making scones.
North American cakes are a lot sweeter than European cakes. I have to say, not trying to be rude, but I prefer the lesser sweetness of European styled cakes.
We North Americans make and use far too much sugar I think. Living in the UK, I got used to their way of doing things. Even the bread in North America is too sweet for my taste. I had noticed that the last time I was home with mom.
Most of the sweetness in this cake comes from the apples and the streusel topping. You want to use a nice cooking apple for the filling. Cooking apples are a bit more tart than regular apples. You could use Granny Smith or a Cortland.
These are tossed with some sugar and cinnamon before laying them on top of the cake base in the pan. Sometimes I will add a bit of nutmeg. The warm flavour of nutmeg goes very well with apples and you don’t need a lot of it. A little bit always goes a long way.
More sweetness comes from the streusel topping. It is sweet and wholesome and adds a lovely crunch to the top of the cake. Oats make it really wholesome, but adding flaked almonds made it nice and crunchy.
Apple and almond is a very quintessentially moreish combination. But then again, so is apple and oats.
This not too sweet cake goes excellently with a nice hot drink. (Also a European tradition.) Hot cups of tea if you are so inclined or Coffee both go very well. That makes it the perfect cake for a mid morning or mid afternoon treat.
Serving this warm with custard sauce is a very British thing to do. I can remember when I first moved to the UK, we were taken out for dinner by the people in our church to celebrate our wedding. At the end of the meal I was asked what I wanted for pudding.
I was thinking pudding . . . hmmm . . . butterscotch, vanilla or chocolate. I like all three, but the word Pudding has a totally different context over there in the UK.
In the UK the term “Pudding” is meant to mean a course, ie. dessert. So when they ask you if you want pudding, what they really mean is do you want dessert?
And then, once you get the dessert, do you want it with lashings of cream or custard, or . . . both! Believe it or not I know people who would choose both.
And the cream is never sweetened, or whipped, just poured. Even the custard is not overly sweet in comparison to our puddings/desserts. And lashings . . . means poured liberally over top.
In restaurants your dessert will often come with its own little jug of each. I do love either one. But the North American in me will always love Ice Cream most of all and with a cake like this is has to be vanilla ice cream.
You don’t want to serve it with anything that is going to detract from the lush flavors of the apple and the cinnamon and the streusel. Vanilla works best with all those things.
But its your dessert, so you go ahead and have whatever you want. I am thinking Maple Walnut would be nice, but then I am nuts for Maple Walnut ice cream! But again, not very Irish.
In any case, if you are looking for a fabulous dessert to serve with your Saint Patrick’s day dinner on the 17th of March, you can’t go far wrong by serving this!
Irish Apple Cake
Yield: 6 – 8
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 50 Mininactive time: 10 MinTotal time: 1 H & 10 M
A delicious version of an apple cake, baked with tasty apple slices sandwiched in the center. Serve warm with or without custard, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
For the cake:
2 cups (280g) self raising flour (You may need extra, see note below to make your own)
1/2 cup (125g) butter
1 large free range egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar (use caster sugar in the UK)
1/3 cup (80ml) milk
For the filling:
2 cooking apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 1/2 TBS soft light brown sugar
For the Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup (105 g) plain flour
1/4 cup (20g) old fashioned oats
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar (in the UK use caster sugar)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 TBS butter, cut into bits
4 TBS flaked almonds
Icing sugar to dust
Custard sauce or vanilla ice cream
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Butter a deep flan tin, with a loose bottom, roughly 9 inches in diameter. Set aside.
Make the Streusel. Measure the flour and oats and sugar into a bowl. Stir in the cinnamon. Drop in the butter. Rub together with your fingers until it clumps together and you have a crumble mixture. Stir in the flaked almonds.
Place the flour and butter into a large bowl. Rub the butter in with your fingertips to form a breadcrumb texture. Stir in the sugar. Add the beaten egg and milk and mix together with a round bladed knife.
If the dough seems a bit too sticky add a bit more flour. You want a soft dough.
Spoon the dough into the prepared pan, making it higher around the edges, about 1 inch into the center with a hollowed out space to put the apples.
Spread the apple slices evenly over the center of the base. Press them down lightly. Sprinkle with the soft light brown sugar and the cinnamon.
Sprinkle the streusel over top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until well risen and golden brown.
Let stand in the tin for about 10 minutes before removing the sides.
Place the tin on top of a jar and push the sides of the pan down and remove. Place the cake on a wire rack to cool to warm.
Dust with icing sugar before cutting into wedges to serve, with or without ice cream or custard.
Make Your Own Self Raising Flour:
You can make your own self raising flour by adding 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp of salt to every cup of plain flour.
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