Legend has it that St. Patrick planted the first apple trees in Ireland. A lovely tale, but the Druids probably beat St. P by about a thousand years—apples have been part of Celtic folklore, healing and traditions for 3,000 years. So it’s no wonder that this lovely apple cake has long been a favorite dessert in Irish households—and just right for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Traditionally made with Bramley apples—large, green and sour!—Granny Smiths are a fine substitute. The cake is usually served with a custard sauce, but a little whipped cream or a bit of vanilla ice cream is almost as good.

• 2 cups flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cloves or cinnamon
• 1 pinch salt
• 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
• 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 lightly beaten eggs, room temperature
• 3 tablespoon milk or buttermilk

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper circle–grease paper
2) Sift flour, salt, baking powder and spices into a large bowl
3) Cut butter in small pieces, add to flour mixture and cut in butter until the mixture is pebbly
4) Add sliced apples and sugar to flour mixture
5) Stir in eggs and milk and mix thoroughly to coat apples with batter
6) Turn dough into prepared pan and sprinkle with 1-2 tblsp sugar.

Bake 45 minutes until top is browned and springs back when pressed– Transfer pan to a cooling rack and let sit for 10 minutes—then release sides of springform pan. Serve warm with custard sauce (recipe below)—or with plain or whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Quick Custard Sauce:
• 1 tsp real vanilla extract
• 2 cups half-and-half or milk—heated to almost simmering
• 2 large eggs
• 1/2 cup sugar

Whisk together eggs, vanilla and sugar in a bowl until well combined, then add hot half-and-half mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Return custard to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened and custard registers 175°F on thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes (do not let boil). Pour into bowl which is set in ice cubes and cold water—stir custard until cooled, then refrigerate about an hour.

The Kitchen Hive

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