This is an authentic Irish recipe from County Kerry. Irish Apple Cakes are a cross between a cake and a sweet bread that are often prepared for tea time, breakfast or for a snack. Although it's usually delicious by itself, this recipe includes the additional touch of drizzling a luscious custard sauce over each slice. It would be a great St. Patrick's Day dessert, too.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter and flour an 8- inch or 9-inch cake pan; set aside.
FOR THE IRISH APPLE CAKE:
In a very large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and nutmeg for 20 seconds. Rub the butter pieces into the flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs. Stir in 1 cup sugar.
Cut each apple into wedges about 1/4-inch thick, then cut each apple wedge into 3 pieces. Add apple pieces to the flour mixture and toss well, and separate apple pieces that stick together.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together milk, eggs and vanilla until blended. Pour milk mixture over apple/flour mixture, and toss just until blended (the batter should be thick and it's OK if it's slightly lumpy, but avoid over-mixing).
Pour batter into prepared baking pan, using a spatula to spread it in an even layer. In a small bowl stir together cinnamon with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar, and sprinkle evenly over batter. Bake in preheated oven 45 to 50 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then invert onto serving platter.
Serve (warm or cooled) with sweet cream or custard sauce poured over each slice.
FOR THE CUSTARD SAUCE:
Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat, and bring just to a light boil (watch it carefully, remove it from the heat if it starts to boil rapidly).
Meanwhile, add egg yolks and sugar to a medium mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer for about 30 seconds or until pale and fluffy. Reduce heat to medium-low. Slowly pour the egg yolk mixture, whisking it frequently, into 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture. Then, while whisking milk in saucepan slowly pour egg yolk mixture into saucepan. Cook the custard mixture, whisking constantly, until thickened but still thin enough to pour, about 3 to 4 minutes (over-heating can cause the eggs to curdle). Immediately pour into a glass measuring cup, stir in vanilla, and whisk about 20 seconds to cool slightly, then cover with plastic wrap pressing against surface to prevent a skin from forming. Serve warm or cooled, drizzled over the cooled Irish Apple Cake.