I was reading the Indulgence section of The Dominion Post when a recipe for Crema Catalana Baked Apples caught my eye. I’d just been wondering what to do with the Granny Smith Apples sitting in our fruit bowl!
The baked apples were nice, pretty much what you’d expect from baked apples but the Cream Catalana (Spanish Custard) made me roll back my eyes in delight.
I think next time I’ll make twice as much custard and skip the apples altogether : -)
Crema Catalana Baked Apples
- 10g (2 tsp) butter (softened)
- 4 medium-sized Granny Smith apples
- 250ml (1 cup) of water
- 100g (1/2 cup) of sugar
- Zest of one lemon
- Cinnamon quill
- Recipe Crema Catalana (below)
- 4 tsp sugar (for sprinkling)
Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease ovenproof gratin dish generously with butter.
Preparing the Apples
Core apples, being careful not to cut through the bottoms. You could use an apple corer, or a small paring knife to carve out a cavity in the centre of the apples about 1cm – 2cm in diameter, and as close to the bottom as you can without piercing it. If necessary cut a tiny sliver of apple from the base to ensure the apple will sit flat.
Place apples in gratin, bottom down.
Preparing the Cooking Liquid
In a small pot set over a low heat, place water, sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon quill and stir to dissolve. Increase heat and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and pour in and over apples. Leave cinnamon quill and zest in the gratin with the apples.
Baking the Apples
Place gratin in the oven and bake uncovered, basting occasionally, for 25-35 minutes till apples are tender and the skin just begins to break. Baking time will depend on the size and ripeness of the apples.
Prepare Crema Catalana (below) while waiting for the apples to cook.
Remove from oven and leave to sit for about 10 minutes. Tip apples to pour off syrup from the apple cavities into the gratin.
Fill cavity with Crema Catalana (below). Sprinkle with second measure of sugar and, using a chefs torch, brulee till dark brown, or place gratin under a very hot grill till sugar has turned dark brown.
Place an apple in each serving plate, drizzle with syrup and accompany with any remaining Crema Catalana.
And this is what a slightly overcooked apple looks like. Ooops.
- 150ml (1/2 cup + 1tbsp + 2 tsp) cream
- 150ml (1/2 cup + 1tbsp + 2tsp) milk
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- Zest of one lemon
- 3 egg yolks
- 66g (1/3 cup) sugar
In a medium, heavy-based saucepan set over a medium heat, place the cream, milk, cinnamon quill and lemon zest and heat to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and cool.
Place egg yolk in a bowl and lightly whisk till just combined, but not frothy or foamy. Add sugar and combine. Pour cooled cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir to combine, aiming, once again, not to create froth or foam.
Wash the cream saucepan and pour the cream/egg mixture into the saucepan and place over low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon till custard thickens and evenly coats the back of the spoon. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the cinnamon quill, zest and remaining particles of egg white.
Allow to cool slightly before pouring into the apples.