Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares

January 18, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

Very lightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi. The custardy squares are essentially an autumnal clafoutis; they're lovely. I've added the option below of not using a mandoline to slice the apples; I made it without, and without being too persnickety, and it was delicious nonetheless.

Nicholas Day

Makes: one 8-inch square cake


  • Butter for the pan
  • 3 medium apples (juicy, sweet)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (but still liquid)
  • Confectioners' sugar (optional)
In This Recipe


  1. Heat the oven to 400° F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Peel the apples. If you have a mandoline, slice the apples thinly, turning when you reach the core. (The slices should be thin but not transparent.) If you don't have a mandoline, simply core and slice as thinly as you manage. (Don't worry about the slices being impossibly precise or thin.)
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt for a couple of minutes, or until the sugar dissolves and the eggs become pale. Whisk in the vanilla, then the milk and the melted butter. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. With a spatula, gently fold in the apples until each slice is coated. Scrape the batter into the pan and roughly even out the top.
  5. Bake the cake for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden and uniformly puffed. A skewer in the middle will come out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool, then slice and dust with the optional confectioners' sugar.

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Reviews (55) Questions (1)

55 Reviews

Asya S. December 2, 2018
So quick and easy to throw together, especially if I have apples sitting around not getting eaten. Always comes out light and delicious when I sift the flour.
bodhi_lisa September 30, 2018
I have a counter oven and followed the instructions but didn't use a mandolin, sifted the dry ingredients and my cake came out exactly as described. Super easy for something kind of fancy. Reminds me of a Dutch baby. Delicious. I will make this again and again.
charlotte September 2, 2018
any idea why it comes out slightly rubbery? mine turns out neither like custard, nor like cake. I'm wondering if using SR flour next time around would change anything!<br /><br />I added cinnamon to mine and it made a great difference!
cpc September 2, 2018
I don’t know what SR flour is but the recipe is pretty fool proof. If it came out rubbery, you may want to calibrate your oven to be sure the temperature you choose is the same as the temperature inside the oven. Mine is quite different so I have to adjust.
Nadine P. September 2, 2018
You Use Too Much Flour<br /><br />The Result: Dry, tough cakes, rubbery brownies, and a host of other textural mishaps.<br />The Fix: In lighter baking, you're using less of the butter and oil that can hide a host of measurement sins. One cook's "cup of flour" may be another cook's 1¼ cups. Why the discrepancy? Some people scoop their flour out of the canister, essentially packing it down into the measuring cup, or tap the cup on the counter and then top off with more flour. Both practices yield too much flour.<br /><br />Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, then level with a knife. A dry measuring cup is one without a spout―a spout makes it difficult to level off the excess flour with the flat side of a knife. "Lightly spoon" means don’t pack it in.
Kate V. July 18, 2018
This was brilliant. I only had SR flour, but that substitution was fine.
Kt4 December 3, 2018
What is "SR flour"?
Nadine P. January 21, 2018
if apple pie and bread pudding had a baby it would be custardy apple squares (my new name “apple pie pudding”)<br /><br />I used braeburn apples thickly sliced on a mandoline, plus I had to add cinnamon and topped with apricot preserves while it cooled.<br /><br />Seriously it was yummy warm but it it’s even better cold for breakfast.<br /><br />this is not a cake at all. it’s bread pudding without the bread. it gives an apple pie vibe without being too sweet. it’s my new fav apple dessert and i will certainly make it again.
Lynnsy October 10, 2017
Definitely use the 8x8 pan or a 9" round, as they have appx. the same area. The first time I made this, I used a 9x9 and it came out flat, cakey and strangely dry. The next time I used a 9" round and it was totally different-moist, a little custardy and very enjoyable. I added a scant teaspoon of cinnamon and a light sprinkling of chopped pecans and it was good that way. I will definitely make this again for a quick light dessert or breakfast treat.
EG September 17, 2017
Can this be made ahead and frozen?
Nigar S. March 31, 2017
Can I substitute berries or pears?
Nanda G. March 31, 2017
possibly pears if they are still hard-ish, but this is already a wet dessert so i wouldn't do berries if i were you.
Nanda G. March 31, 2017
although it looks like many commenters used Bosc pears with success.
XenaB January 1, 2017
I finally made this as a light dessert to use up some apples that are getting old. It's an easy recipe. I sliced my apples by hand. I added a little cardamom since I love that spice. As some comments mentioned, 400° is way too high for a custardy texture. When I checked at 30 minutes, the edges were already too dark. I used a 8" square pan. I'm going to try it again at a later date with a lower temperature.
XenaB January 2, 2017
Despite the temperature issue I had, the squares tasted good. This is good for a light snack.
Julia October 28, 2016
This is such a wonderful light dessert (or breakfast?!). I typically add some cinnamon and nutmeg, and about a tablespoon of brown sugar for a slightly caramelized taste. I also bake it in a 9" pie pan for around 35 minutes at 375... I did as the recipe suggested (400 for 45ish mins) at first and the edges of the apples on top were too black.
Nanda G. October 9, 2015
How much is this supposed to rise/puff up? I did mine in a square 9" pan and adjusted amounts accordingly, but it ended up very flat. Tastes good, but each square seems very small because of how flat it is.
Whitney April 29, 2015
FYI I made this with so many modifications: GF flour, bananas/chocolate instead of apples, and applesauce instead of butter. It was delicious!! I also only baked for 30ish minutes.
LisaD April 27, 2015
made this with bosc pears, and substituted maple syrup for sugar. Grated a little nutmeg over the top before baking. It was outstanding. It strikes me that all sorts of innovation is possible here, from changing out the flour (whole wheat, maybe almond) to changing the sweetener, as I did. Next time I might sub rum for vanilla. Leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.
Monica April 13, 2015
I had three old apples I needed to use up - gala, pink lady, and some other one ... cut the sugar down to 1/4 cup and with the sweet apples it was still a tad sweet. I'd substitute one tart apple in there to balance out. Depends how sweet you like it I guess. Definitely a keeper for a quick and easy desert/snack. Thanks! Will definitely make it again.
Leslie B. April 11, 2015
I just made this for breakfast. I made many modifications according to the comments, what I had on hand, and experience. I'd like to say this recipe is very versatile, so go ahead and make substitutions; the finished product will vary, but still good. I am trying to clean out my pantry and I just finished my AP flour the other day, so I used whole wheat pastry flour. It worked fine. I used a scant 1/4 cup sugar. The sweetness was understated in a good kind of way that made you feel justified in having "cake" for breakfast. I used only 2 apples and sliced them paper thin; one granny smith and one fuji. I dusted the top with ceylon cinnamon (light and floral unlike the cassia cinnamon most of us are used to). I used a round cake pan; 8 inches or just a little smaller. I baked it 32 minutes and the apples were delicate and tender. 40-50 minutes at 400 degrees in a square pan (which would have made for a thinner cake) would have killed it. I love my version and will make it again. No rubbery corners!!!! I think next time I will add even a touch less sugar in the batter and sprinkle coarse sugar on the top to add texture.
weyams April 11, 2015
I recommend using a cooking apple that breaks down quickly such as McIntosh or the like. Granny's don't soften enough at the longest cooking time for a pleasing texture. Just a thought from my first go round.
Zoejeanne April 5, 2015
This is very much like the cake my mother-in-;paw made-- a recipe she brought form Poland, where the ingredients were measured by small glass, large glass, and soup spoons.
catalinalacruz February 25, 2015
I made this with Granny Smith apples, since that is all I could get close to home, and served it with creme fraiche to dinner guests. Excellent! Definitely an easy, not fussy, dessert to make, yet resulted in lots of compliments and requests for seconds. I especially like low sugar desserts, and I made this even lower by reducing the sugar to 1/4 cup (the apples weren't too sweet). This is my new go-to dessert for company.
Susan M. February 21, 2015
This was pretty good. I put in a lot of apples. The vanilla taste was strong, but very nice.
cpc February 21, 2015
It would be fine. This is not a fussy recipe.