Custardy Apple Squares — Best Fall Breakfast Sweet

by Dorothy Reinhold on October 14, 2015

Print This Post Print This Post Not too sweet and stuffed with apples, this Custardy Apple Squares makes a wonderful breakfast treat with a sophisticated taste. |

We like a little sweet something for breakfast, but it shouldn’t be super sweet. It shouldn’t be like an over-the-top dessert, or so sugary that it puts you in a morning coma. And it should have fruit, because starting the day with fruit automatically makes it a better day.

So Dorie Greenspan’s Custard Apple Squares nicely meet these conditions, and it might be my new favorite simple yet sophisticated recipe.

If you have apples in the fruit basket, you probably have everything you need for this, so no trip to the store required. HOWEVER, that said, if you ARE going to the store, seek out some organic heirloom apples, which will take this over the top. With so few ingredients, using the best really matters. (See a note below the recipe for the apples I used.)

Dorie calls this her “back-pocket recipe,” one she can pull out when she needs something quick and wonderful, something she can make on the spur of the moment. It could be a dessert, breakfast, brunch or a teatime sweet.

Not too sweet and stuffed with apples, this Custardy Apple Squares makes a wonderful breakfast treat with a sophisticated taste. | ShockinglyDelicious.comIt’s now in my back pocket, too, and should be in yours.

Custardy Apple Squares

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

A bit like a thick crepe stuffed with apples, the flavorful filling in this sophisticated sweet turns custard-like during baking.


  • 3 medium juicy, sweet apples, peeled (see note below about apples I used)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) sugar (I used Vanilla Sugar)
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I used Heilala Vanilla Extract)
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 28 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I used Gurunanda Ghee Clarified Butter, which is liquid at room temperature)
  • Zest of one orange or 1 lemon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (68 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Center a rack in the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly mist an 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside. (Dorie also lines the bottom with parchment paper, which I did in the photo, but I find after making this several times, it isn't necessary.)
  2. Slice the apples. You may use a mandoline if you have it -- turn the fruit as you reach the core. Or keep it simple as I did and quarter the apples with a paring knife, remove stem and core, peel, and slice each quarter very thinly (about 8 slices per quarter). The slices should be about 1/16th inch thick-- elegantly thin, but not so thin that they're transparent and fragile. Discard cores. Set apple slices aside.
  3. Working in a large bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs, sugar and salt together for about 2 minutes, until the sugar just about dissolves and, more important, the eggs are pale. This will give your arm a welcome workout. You may skip 2 pushups at the gym later. Whisk in the vanilla, then the milk and melted butter (or ghee if you are using), and zest if you are using.
  4. Add flour and baking powder into the bowl and stir with the whisk until the batter is smooth. Add the apples, switch to a flexible spatula and gently fold the apples into the batter, turning everything around until each thin apple slice is coated in batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top as evenly as you can--it will be bumpy; that's its nature.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown, uniformly puffed-- make sure the middle of the cake has risen--and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. (Mine was done at 40 minutes.) Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Using a long knife, cut the cake into 8-9 squares/rectangles in the pan (being careful not to damage the pan), or unmold the cake onto a rack, flip it onto a plate and cut into squares. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving, if you'd like.
  7. Makes 6-8 servings.


Serving: The squares are fantastic plain, but could also be embellished with whipped cream, crème fraîche or ice cream.

Storing: The cake is great after cooling for a few minutes out of the oven, or at room temperature the day it is made. For longer storage refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days and served chilled.

Notes: Add 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract to the batter. You can also change the fruit to pears, or use a combination of apples and pears.

Recipe source: Just slightly adapted from "Baking Chez Moi,"©2014 by Dorie Greenspan; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The apples I used

Organic heirloom apples from Frieda's Produce on

Frieda’s Produce sent me several varieties of organic heirloom apples to try out, and let me tell you, these were some of the best tasting apples I have ever eaten! More nuanced, more delicate, more pure apple-y flavor than huge commercial varieties (like Gala or Fuji), heirloom varieties are worth searching out. I used Roxbury Russet (juicy, crisp, tart), Orleans Reinette (juicy, taste of orange and nuts) and Ashmead’s Kernel (juicy, crisp, rich flavor) varieties in this dish today. Frieda’s offers more than 15 varieties of organic heirloom apples in short bursts throughout the season. Due to the short season for each and limited availability, most retailers and distributors pre-book theirs months in advance. If you find that your produce section doesn’t have the varieties I list here, simply use other heirloom varieties and experiment. Other Frieda’s varieties to look for include King David, Matsu, Winesap, Northern Spy, Grimes Golden, Ribston Pippin, Orange Pippin, Pink Pearl, White Winter Pearmain, Spitzenburg, Cortland and Arkansas Black.

Custardy Apple Squares recipe on ShockinglyDelicious.comWouldn’t it be fun to have an apple tasting party?

Disclosure: Frieda’s Produce sent the apples, Heilala Vanilla sent the extract, and Gurunanda sent the ghee, for recipe development.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Christiane ~ Taking On Magazines October 24, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Oh man, I’m in love. Heck, my whole family would love to have these for breakfast.


Steph @ Steph in Thyme October 24, 2015 at 6:56 pm

A new way to enjoy apples beyond pie, superb!


Cynthia/What A Girl Eats October 24, 2015 at 4:59 pm

I love serving this sort of dish for a holiday brunch. Festive and easy!


Dorothy Reinhold October 25, 2015 at 7:35 am

Thanks! Exactly right!


cristina October 23, 2015 at 11:50 am

I could smell this now and like the term of “back-pocket recipe” – Just bought some baking apples and this may be their destiny! 😉


Dorothy Reinhold October 23, 2015 at 1:33 pm

I agree. Isn’t that a charming phrase? I have now made this 3 times…it’s that good.


Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet October 22, 2015 at 8:01 pm

This looks and sounds wonderful! Definitely the kind of breakfast I would enjoy!


fabiola@notjustbaked October 22, 2015 at 11:52 am

Great call on using vanilla sugar, I can only imagine how amazing it is paired with the apples. Yes!


Dorothy Reinhold October 22, 2015 at 5:37 pm

I just keep spent vanilla beans in the sugar cannister always. It works. 🙂


Annie @ Annie's Noms October 20, 2015 at 10:23 am

Heck yeah, this looks so delicious!!


Kristyn October 17, 2015 at 12:36 pm

This sounds so yummy! Can’t wait to try it out!


Andi @ The Weary Chef October 16, 2015 at 9:54 am

I love anything with apple this time of year! And these apple squares sound perfect breakfast for the season!


Dorothy Reinhold October 18, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Thank you Andi!


Valerie | From Valerie's Kitchen October 15, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Sounds wonderful! Love old-timey recipes like this.


Dorothy Reinhold October 16, 2015 at 8:53 am

Thanks Valerie. That’s exactly what it is!


Sharon @ What The Fork Food Blog October 15, 2015 at 5:35 pm

I agree, a little sweet (but not too sweet!) in the morning is a great way to start the day, especially when there’s fruit involved! Great recipe 🙂


Dorothy Reinhold October 16, 2015 at 8:53 am

Yeah, I just can’t start the day with a complete sugar overload, or it’s all downhill from there.


Jenn @ Peas and Crayons October 15, 2015 at 12:18 pm

I’ve never tried heirloom apples but now I’m dying to! Thanks for the great recipe Dorothy!


Dorothy Reinhold October 16, 2015 at 8:53 am

Heirlooms will delight you, I predict. They are so much more nuanced in flavor.


Michelle | A Latte Food October 15, 2015 at 9:53 am

Ooh, this looks amazing! Such a fun idea!


Dorothy Reinhold October 16, 2015 at 8:55 am

Trust me, you WANT this!


Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor October 15, 2015 at 9:52 am

I can’t resist apple desserts and love the texture of these apple squares. I am sure they taste amazing!


Dorothy Reinhold October 16, 2015 at 8:56 am

As you can probably see, some of the apples float and are a great texture!


Christine from Cook the Story October 15, 2015 at 9:16 am

I love the variety of apples you used in this recipe. Those heirloom apples look really delicious.


Patricia@FreshFoodinaFlash October 14, 2015 at 2:04 pm

This looks divine for all the apples that are in season. Thanks for the recipe.


Dorothy Reinhold October 16, 2015 at 8:56 am

This recipe is right up your alley!


Liz October 14, 2015 at 9:30 am

Sounds so good. Thanks.


Medeja October 14, 2015 at 3:52 am

I am not a big fan of breakfast, but such apple custard slices I would have gladly 🙂


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