I have a confession to make: I have a bit of a love affair with Ireland. No idea when it started or why, but I am fascinated by the history, culture, and food. I was fortunate enough to visit a few years ago for my 30th birthday and I fell even more in love with the country. It is such a beautiful place with friendly people that I want to return many more times.
What do most people think of when they think of Ireland? Probably St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day is a Christian feast day celebrating the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is also a day to celebrate Irish culture and has become an opportunity to wear green and indulge in green food and drinks. Now, I love a green cupcake as much as the next person, but now that I’ve experienced Irish cuisine at its finest, I want to celebrate its flavors and more natural colors at St. Patrick’s Day. I looked for an Irish wine to feature, but Ireland does not have a significant wine industry because the climate is really not great for grape growing. There are some vineyards in the country but it’s pretty hard to find anything in the U.S. So, I found a really amazing Irish dessert to share with you instead: an Irish apple cake
I’ve never been a huge fan of apple cake ibecause I think it’s overly spicy (sorry, Mom, I know you love apple cake!) and I don’t think the apples are really the star of the dish. This is a great alternative to the apple cakes I know because it’s a nice dense, fresh cake with a little hint of spice to it. The recipe is from Irish-American Mom: http://www.irishamericanmom.com/2013/03/01/kerry-or-irish-apple-cake/
To start, I greased and floured a spring form pan. The spring form is nice for this cake because it allows you to remove the cake from the pan without flipping it over and smushing the top. The top is so pretty and rustic it would be a shame to smush it. I floured the pan in addition to buttering it because I have found that it helps give the cake a little more height and prevents it from sticking. Butter alone will sometimes work but I’ve had so many cakes fall apart when removing them from the pan that I always flour the pan no matter what. All it takes is a spoonful of flour and a minute to shake the flour all around so it sticks to the butter.
Once the pan is prepped, you just combine the dry ingredients and mix in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers. You want to ensure the butter is evenly distributed throughout the flour so it will look like small bread crumbs.
Then you peel and slice the apples and mix them into the flour. I quartered each apple, quartered each slice, then quartered the slices. I felt like this was big enough to give each piece some heft but small enough to cook in a reasonable length of time. Make sure to cut the apples as uniformly as possible. If you have some giant pieces and some tiny ones they won’t cook evenly. The small pieces will be mushy and the large ones will be al dente. Try to do this part quickly (without losing a finger) because the apples will brown if left in the air too long. One way to combat this is to toss them with a little lemon juice. Just use a small splash so you don’t introduce too much liquid or flavoring to the cake batter.
Next, you mix the eggs and milk together and add them to the apple and flour mixture. Don’t worry if it looks like you have way too much flour and apples compared to the liquid. I promise you will have enough to mix it all together. The batter is more dough-like and very thick and lumpy. You’ll need to spread the batter carefully in the pan to make sure there aren’t any holes. The last step is to sprinkle a little sugar on the top to help the cake brown and to give it a little crunch on top.
The cake takes about 45 minutes to cook and will be browned on top when you remove it from the oven.
I actually had this cake for both dessert and breakfast. It’s perfectly sweet for dessert (maybe with a little ice cream?) but it’s also an amazing brunch cake. For dessert, it’s fantastic by itself or you can make a custard sauce to top the cake and really take it over the top. This one from The Kitchen McCabe is really good. Just be careful not to overcook the custard!
No matter how you eat this apple cake, it is absolutely amazing and a wonderful example of the deliciousness that is Irish food!