Irish Apple Cake with Whiskey Hard Sauce

Hello, Stem blog readers! My name is Allie and I’m one of the newest Kitchen Council members. I’m so happy to be sharing this fabulous Irish Apple Cake recipe with you today!

In case you couldn’t tell by my red hair and freckles, I’m of Irish descent and proud of it. St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, and all the authentic Irish recipes are a huge part of that.

This year, my family will be celebrating the holiday with a thick slice of this moist Irish apple cake. It’s perfect as a breakfast treat, afternoon snack, or dessert. It’s got a toothsome, almost bread-like texture, and it’s positively overflowing with tart, juicy Granny Smith apples. There’s just a hint of warm spice, but really the apples are the star of the show. Granny Smith’s are the perfect apple for this kind of cake; their firm texture really holds up well during the long bake time and their tart apple flavor really shines.

To go alongside, I whipped up an easy whiskey hard sauce. It’s creamy and sweet, and the caramel notes of the Irish whiskey are a perfect compliment to the tart green apples. But if you’re serving little ones, the cake is perfectly delicious on its own! Or, you could just leave out the whiskey from the sauce entirely.

Either way, your family is sure to love this apple cake! It’s perfect for St. Patrick’s day, but truly delicious enough to enjoy any time of year.


Categorized in: Recipes

Irish Apple Cake with Whiskey Hard Sauce

Irish Apple Cake

Irish Apple Cake with Whiskey Hard Sauce by , on Mar 06, 2017.

  • Yield
    8-10 servings
  • Prep time
  • Cook time
  • Level

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This Apple Irish Cake is perfect for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or even dessert!


  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • A few microplane scratches of whole nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk*
  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Irish whiskey (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract



  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mist an 8-inch diameter cake pan with non-stick spray, and line with a circle cut from parchment.
  3. Place the cake flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and grated nutmeg in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the butter, and mix on low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand.
  5. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula after each addition.
  6. Add the buttermilk, and mix on medium-high speed for 60 to 90 seconds, to aerate the batter and build the cake's structure.
  7. Fold in the chopped apples, and transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
  8. Top with the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  9. Serve with Whiskey Hard Sauce (optional).


  1. Place the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small pot and whisk to combine.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the cream, while continuing to whisk.
  3. Stir in the whiskey, if using.
  4. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, until boiling and thickened.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.


20 Responses

  1. I’m going to give this a try — looks delish! Question about the sauce -how do you use it? Served alongside or poured over a slice when serving?

  2. Hi,

    This sounds really tasty. If using the milk/vineagr substitute, do you use the full 1 1/2 cups, or do you use 3/4 cup as the recipe calls for?

    • Hey Scott! Thanks for the great question. You’d just want to use the amount that the recipe calls for. That’s just a generic suggestion for how to make a buttermilk substitute. So you can halve it for this recipe, or just keep the leftover for pancakes or whatever!

  3. Made this today. Awesome! Only change I made was add 1tablespoon of butter to the sauce while hot and stirred in.

  4. Hi!! I made this cake today! It turned out not bad but have a couple of questions?? The cake pan-how deep was the one you used and 4 med or large apples?? It seems a bit soggy and doughy?? As we haven’t tried it yet as it is cooling and I’m not sure how I’m going to get it out of the pan?? Lol It seems as if my pan is too small?? But it was easy to make and I will give it a go again!! Thank you for your wonderful recepies!!!

    • Hey Marianne! I’m so glad you gave this recipe a try. To answer your question, the pan I used was 2 inches deep. I just gave it a generous mist with non-stick spray and lined the bottom with a circle of parchment, and it slipped right out. You may want to run the tip of a sharp knife around the edge, just to help it along. The texture is pretty dense and almost bread-like. Oh, and the apples were on the larger side. I hope that helps!

  5. Tonight I made this Irish Apple Cake. unbelievably delicouus!! The one problem I had was taking out of the pan. The batter rose, spilling over edges of the pan! I ended up taking off what was left on the cake edges & placing the crunchy apple/cake pieces separately for the bubblers!. The cake & sauce tasted wonderful, however, the presentation could have been improved.

    How may I prevent the overflow of batter in the future? Put less in the pan, but I followed the directions to a tee.

  6. Hello Allie! I am wanting to make this cake for a family reunion this Sunday…we are the Oneills so of course this cake would fit in perfectly at our table. I am reading the comments about the cake not wanting to come out of the pan….how do you think this cake would do in a bundt cake pan?

    • Hi Chelsea, I sent a note to Allie so she could help you out, but it looks like she is out of range for a bit. I wanted to make sure you received some kind of answer, and so having not tested this recipe myself, you may want to stick to the 2-inch pan and use a generous mist of non-stick spray. Enjoy!

  7. Hey there! Sorry for the late reply- just got back late last night. Brianna is right, a generous mist of non-stick spray is the way to go. Even better if your bundt pan is also non-stick. And for added insurance, you can also dust the inside of the pan with flour after misting. You should have no problem at all if you follow those steps. Hope you enjoy!

  8. This looks SO good I can’t believe it. I hope to make this soon in two variations, two for the rest of my family and one for me. My brother and his wife live close by on one of the farms with my parents living in the attached “granny house” (as we call it). My brother has an extra special fondness when I make an apple pie for that sprinkling of sugar over the crust before its baked giving that nice crunch when eaten. I love it too, that’s why I began doing it and why I know he’ll really like it on this cake. This past autumn my niece asked me to bake for her an apple crumb cake. I did a recipe I found which sounded good and I have to say, as a “hobby” baker I haven’t had a cake fail that badly in 20 years. I still don’t know what happened. I’ve never had a cake become such a mess in the oven like this one did. As soon as I saw this cake I told myself that I bet my niece would like THIS one. So I’ll have to make one for her also. Nice thing about this cake is it appears overall an easy cake to do. The other version and the reason I’m writing is me, THE baker in the family and I’M the one that has to eat gluten free. But isn’t that how life goes, if mother nature is going to play a joke on you and has the chance she definitely does. Has anyone to your knowledge tried making this gluten free? I’m going to first try it using the substitute flour. My two favorites are Cup4Cup and the one made by King Arthur Flour. Let’s face it, I don’t think King Arthur Flour makes a bad product and if it doesn’t work then it has to be it just can’t work with this recipe. My biggest concern is with the apples its a heavy batter so I’m hoping they have enough xanthan gum or guar gum or whatever it is to work like the gluten does in regular flour. If anyone has any advice I’m all ears. I’ve been living with this at least 12 years or so and when first diagnosed not one item was found in a regular supermarket. I still have at least 25 other types of flours such as almond, pecan, brown rice, white rice, potato starch and countless others I store in the freezer. The early cookbooks which required 4 or 5 different flours and other items were so frustrating I just gave up and did without. I wrote and wrote and wrote multiple times to every flour manufacturer I knew saying the world of the Celiac would be improved a 1,000 times over if there could be an easy “cup for cup” substitution of regular AP flour. Whether it was me or someone else or lots of us together the group producing the Cup4Cup were the first to hit the market. So I’m just checking if there is any advice or information for converting this to a gluten free cake. I REALLY hope the substitute works because this cake looks SO good. I really want to be able to have some and that’s saying a lot. For someone who’s favorite pastime, other than reading mysteries and traveling is baking but yet I’m not a big pastry or sweets person. I’ll also take lemon or vanilla over chocolate most of the time. I don’t dislike chocolate, although I’m not crazy about chocolate chips and especially not in the 500 things I’ve seen them added in over the past couple of years like pancakes, fudge, oatmeal (ick), muffins. I just saw a recipe with them being used in Irish Soda Bread (loud groan here). That sacrilegious as far as I’m concerned and the Irish have a right to be insulted with that one. Then there one recently with Chocolate Chips in the Grilled Cheese Sandwich (that’s just revolting). I think I actually love baking more than I do the eating of the items but despite all I’ve just said, my absolute all-time, very loved favorite is German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting. For one thing I LOVE any nut and also coconut. Additionally the traditional chocolate used in the recipe from Baker’s isn’t as high percentage of cacao and is less potent, making the cake more enjoyable for those who aren’t chocoholics. I don’t know your age but I was a kid in the 60s. At that time those cans of frosting on the grocery store shelves by Pillsbury and Duncan Hines and others didn’t exist. Almost all frosting was homemade and disgustingly sweet (and nasty in my book). So…not being a huge sweets person I would scrape the icing off of cakes most of the time. My great-grandmother noticed this after a while and so I could enjoy cake one year about 5 or 6 years old she introduced me to the German Chocolate cake. It was love at first sight and its never changed. It’s the one cake if left in the house I will eat multiple pieces a day and actually finish the entire cake. THIS cake right here, this Irish Apple Cake is THE first cake that I’ve looked at and think if I can make it and its edible (many gluten free items often disappoint me because they’re just not edible, no matter how good they look) it will join that extremely elite and restricted group of pastries or baked items I thoroughly enjoy and can eat till finished like my mom, the cakeaholic, can enjoy with most cakes.

    • Hi Pamela, thanks for reaching out! Sounds like you are quite the baker! Your family is very lucky! You know, we haven’t tried this cake as a gluten-free version, but I bet it can be done. Coconut Flour is always a good substitute I have found, along with the Almond Flour. And mixing gluten free flours will be a good bet too. To address your concerns about Xanthan Gum, we would try adding a bit of flax-seed or chia seeds to your mixture. Grind it up and add it in and it should hopefully help with the consistency. If you do try making it gluten-free, please let us know what you think! We would love to hear about the outcome!

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