Monday, March 5, 2012

Baking Challenge Week 10 - Literature/Media Inspired - Apple Custard Fancies

I love England, I love British desserts (sticky toffee pudding!), and I love Downton Abbey.

For the movie/TV/book challenge, it didn't take me long at all to figure out that I wanted to make a dainty tea-time treat that would fit right in at Downton.  What took me much longer to decide was exactly which one.  I have several cookbooks from British publishers, two of which are devoted just to baking, and I had dozens of recipes to choose from. 

I even did some historical research, trying to find out if any of the ones that I most wanted to try were period-accurate.  (One definitely was, the classic Bakewell tart.  And I mean to try that sometime, but I already had some apples....)

So while this particular recipe was never mentioned on the show, I feel like it's at least something they might have eaten, and would definitely enjoy if they had!

Apple Custard Fancies
(adapted from Baking: A Commonsense Guide)

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp water
Apple filling
  •  3 green apples, peeled, cored, and diced (I used Golden Delicious)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  •  2 tbsp water
Custard filling
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Streusel topping
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Line a 7x11" baking dish with foil, leaving some extra at both ends to fold over for handles, and grease the foil.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  In a small bowl, mix the flour and sugar.  Add the egg yolk, melted butter, and water, and mix to form a soft dough.  Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.  Refrigerate 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the chopped apples, butter, sugar, and water.  Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.  Uncover, lightly mash the apples, and cook five minutes more.  Set aside to cool.

Line the refrigerated crust with more foil and fill with baking weights (dry beans, barley, or rice works well).  Bake 15 minutes; remove the foil and weights and bake uncovered 5 minutes more to brown slightly.  Set aside to cool.  Lower the heat to 350 F.

When both the crust and the apple filling are cooled, spread the filling over the crust.  In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, sugar, and vanilla, and pour over the apple layer.  Bake 20 minutes, or until the custard is partially set.

Meanwhile, make the streusel.  Mix together the flour and brown sugar.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or rub in with your fingertips) until the mixture resemble coarse crumbs.  Stir in the walnuts.  Sprinkle evenly over the partially-set custard and bake 15 minutes more.  Cool completely before lifting out of the pan with the foil handles, cutting into squares (I went with 4x6 for 24) and serving.

(The recipe doesn't specify, but I'm guessing these should probably be stored in the fridge.  Don't you think?)

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