Fall

Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares

January 18, 2015
18 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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
Ingredients
  • 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
Directions
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jonathan A.
    Jonathan A.
  • Arrxx
    Arrxx
  • Mathilda McCommon
    Mathilda McCommon
  • Scott Stephan
    Scott Stephan
  • Asya Sorokurs
    Asya Sorokurs
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is nicholasday.net; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

69 Reviews

Charleen November 12, 2020
I doubled the recipe to take to a dinner. Oops, should have tried it first. The taste was kind of blah (no spices), the layer of apples was really thin and it needs some nuts for crunch. Next time I make it I'll use 5 apples, some cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and whatever else tickles my fancy. And a good handful of pecans. I usually like Dories recipes.
 
Suzegal November 12, 2020
Google the actual Dorie Greenspan recipe. Not this one altered by Nicholas Day. It is a much better recipe. His alterations diminish the recipe rather than enhance it.
 
Charleen November 12, 2020
I doubled the recipe to take to a dinner. Oops, should have tried it first. The taste was kind of blah (no spices), the layer of apples was really thin and it needs some nuts for crunch. Next time I make it I'll use 5 apples, some cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and whatever else tickles my fancy. And a good handful of pecans.
 
Suzegal October 24, 2020
I compared this recipe “very lightly adapted” with the actual Dorie Greenspan recipe. I liked hers much better. The tweaking left out some very important points. She tells you how to handle the ingredients, when they need to be at room temperature, when they have to be softened then cooled and all the variations she offered. He doesn’t tell the beginner that the eggs and milk have to be at room temp and melted butter has to be cooled. He blows off the use of a mandolin but never mentions how important it is to have very thin and regular slices if you want it to cook evenly. I find this recipe to be much less refined and less instructional than the original. I believe it could set up the beginner for failure or at least a less successful result. I will never use a recipe from your website and, especially from Nicholas Day. There are much better recipes on the web.
 
Kristen October 5, 2020
Delicious! I squeezed half a lemon over the apple slices and sprinkled some cinnamon in with the flour. I'll definitely be making this again!
 
LaMar June 13, 2020
This was a nice way to use up 2 apples that had been in back of fridge for too long, I added in about 3/4 cup frozen wild blueberries as well (rolled in flour first, but the squares are thin enough I probably didn't need to do that). Family loved them, esp. the not-too-sweet of it, though I really like the confectioners sugar on top and the extra browned edges!
 
Jonathan A. May 29, 2020
Simple and delicious—an excellent (and not-too-sweet dessert to showcase apples. I added a little cinnamon and pie spices.
 
Arrxx October 10, 2019
Can you make ahead of time (a few hours not days) and warm up to serve?
 
cpc October 10, 2019
It's best when it's warm out of the oven but I've had it for breakfast the next day and it was still very good!
 
Arrxx October 11, 2019
Thanks for your response! I'm making it to take to the lunch. Might try warming a bit before serving. Will report.
 
Mathilda M. September 29, 2019
Beautifully simple and not overly sweet. I used McIntosh apples that softened nicely and still had a bit of tartness (3mm on a mandoline). I used a fully lined, 8x8 glass dish and dropped the temp to 375 for a full 50 mins. I didn't have whole milk and used 5 TBSP of heavy cream w/ 1 TBSP of water, which made for a lovely custard. I will absolutely make it again and may try the addition of some lemon zest for a citrus lift.
 
Scott S. May 7, 2019
Holy moly, this was great! I've made a lot of Clafoutis-esque treats in my life and this is one of the best.

I made a few changes based on what was on hand in the kitchen- I used almond milk instead of milk and I baked in a 9x13 for about 45 minutes. Honestly, I feel like an 8x8 would be too thick, the thin 9x13 height feels just right.
 
catalinalacruz May 11, 2019
And I increase the recipe by 50% to make it thicker. Still use an 8 x 8 pan. Bakes a little longer. To each his/her own! :)
 
catalinalacruz May 11, 2019
Correction: I increase the recipe by 1/3, adding one more egg and increasing the other ingreds. also by 1/3.
 
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!

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

The Result: Dry, tough cakes, rubbery brownies, and a host of other textural mishaps.
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.

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"?
 
catalinalacruz February 28, 2019
Self Rising. It includes baking powder and salt.
Perhaps Kate compensated by deducting baking powder and salt called for in the recipe.
 
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”)

I used braeburn apples thickly sliced on a mandoline, plus I had to add cinnamon and topped with apricot preserves while it cooled.

Seriously it was yummy warm but it it’s even better cold for breakfast.

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.
 
LaMar June 13, 2020
I had only 2 apples so added about 3/4 cup frozen wild blueberries tossed in flour first, it was a fine combo. And I could have probably substititued the wild berries completely, as they are not too juicy on their own, not sure about juicier berries though
 
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.