Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares Recipe on Food52 (2024)


by: Nicholas Day



23 Ratings

  • Makes one 8-inch square cake

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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

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

  • Butter for the pan
  • 3 medium apples (juicy, sweet)
  • 1/2 cupflour
  • 1 teaspoonbaking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cupgranulated sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoonsvanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoonswhole milk
  • 2 tablespoonsunsalted butter, melted and cooled (but still liquid)
  • Confectioners' sugar (optional)
  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.


  • Fruit
  • Apple
  • Milk/Cream
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Dessert

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jonathan A.

  • Mathilda McCommon

  • Scott Stephan

  • Asya Sorokurs

  • bodhi_lisa

Recipe by: Nicholas Day

I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

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73 Reviews

e September 21, 2023

I've made this recipe about a dozen times over the years. It's reliable and can be adapted to different kinds of fruit (apples, peaches, pears, blueberries). I've had good experience adding spices: cinnamon, cardamom, "pumpkin pie spice". I've coated with sanding sugar before baking (more sweet), cut the sugar to 1/4cup (less sweet). When I want a fluffier cake, I separate the eggs (yolks with the sugar, whipped egg whites folded in just before adding fruit).

Cindy R. March 13, 2023

Just made this for the first time and let me just say that the previous comments about adding spices were right on point! Without that note, this would have been bland bland bland. That being said, you can add whatever spices you want and you have a universe of options to choose from. I used whatever apples were around and brought the cook temp down a bit when I saw that it was browning too much. Will make again!

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.

catalinalacruz June 4, 2022

This recipe is identical to 4 other recipes online attributed to Dorie Greenspan.
The type of apple used, and their freshness and quality, can produce inferior flavor.

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.

li February 26, 2024

Using a scale with all the dry ingredients solves all sorts of dryness issues.

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

Jo 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.

Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares Recipe on Food52 (2024)
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