Oh them apples.

Hey everyone! As always on a Sunday, today we had a nice roast for dinner (beef!) so I had a lot of time to think of something to make for dessert. The weathers actually turned quite cold so I decided I wanted something warm and homely. I had a good look round the kitchen and saw that someone had bought cooking apples so knew just the thing – Baked Apples! This is an easy enough dessert to make, the only real challenge comes in de-coring the apples. Today, I served my baked apples with a home-made vanilla custard but they are meant to be lovely with vanilla ice cream or a vanilla cream.
 I’m also going to teach you all how to make the custard – from scratch! It is really simple and delicious so well worth learning. When you watch the bake off or any other cooking show and hear them say the words creme patissiere , they mean this custard recipe but with the addition of butter added at the last moment, and leaving it to cool completely. We are looking for a light pouring consistency here, but creme patissiere would usually be thicker. Mastering this will help you in so many other recipes, and of course will be nom for Christmas – trifles, puddings, tarts, whatever.




Right, you will need:

Apples:

Cooking apples (1 for each person!)
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
handful of raisins
50g butter, chopped into cubes
ginger 

Custard:

3 large egg yolks
100g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
500 ml milk
50g corn flour


The first step in this recipe is to wash your apples. It is important because we will be leaving the skins on. Try and use a cooking apple and has a bit of red colour as they give a nicer visual effect when baked – obviously if your whole apple is green that’s completely fine too. 
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

Once you’ve washed and dried your apples, pick your baking tray. If your family or friends liked the Apple Butterscotch Pudding, I think they’ll like this recipe too.  Anyways, just pick a tray that has sides, as your apples will need the support. They go very soft and you won’t want them to fall over. Check that the amount of apples you have fit snugly into your tray.

Now, take your sugar, 2 tsp of ginger and your raisins and mix them together in a bowl. Leave to one side while you de-core your apples. To do this, place your knife down through the apple beside the core, letting the knife come through to the other side. You want to do this all around the core – make sure you come through to the other side as it’ll make it easier to push the core up and out of the apple. Don’t worry if it looks messy, mine were a state!



Once you’ve de-cored every apple, you need to slit around the belly of the apple. You want to make an incision with your knife all the way around the diameter of the apple – but do not cut through into the other side. 

Now you are ready to fill your apples! Take about 2 teaspoons of your sugary mix and add to the center of each apple. Feel more than free to add nuts, cranberries, bits of toffee – whatever you want! You don’t have to stick with the classic if you don’t fancy. Get your butter cubes and push one down into each apple or leave on top of your sugary mix. Once you’ve filled each apple you might have some sugar mix left over. Brilliant if you do. Just get a little bit more butter and squash it into your leftover sugar mix. Then rub this all over your apple body, getting the skin of each all sugary.  Don’t worry if they look a mess, it’s perfect. You can shake more ginger over them too if you like. Cinnamon or mixed spice will be nice too, if you like cinnamon (which I hate so you probably won’t see it much on this blog, how can people like it?!) 


Place your apples in your oven for around 30 minutes. Watch them, you want them to be soft but not burnt. Don’t worry if some of the skin gets a little scorched. They’ll look really wintery and inviting either way!

While your apples are in the oven, you can make your custard. Weigh out your cornflour and your sugar and put them into a bowl. Add your 3 egg yolks (you can save your whites for something else later in the week, just make sure to cover them in the fidge with clingfilm). Mix this until smooth.


I know it looks awful, stick with it!


Put your milk into a milk pan with your vanilla extract. Heat this over the hob until just about to boil. Take off the heat and gradually add it to your eggy sugar mix – whisking all the time! When everything is incorporated, you will have a light yellow milky mixture. Tip this back into your milk pan and return to the heat.



Be careful now, you really need to keep your eye on it! The custard will thicken out of the blue and you don’t want lumps. Mix your custard on a low heat, stirring continuously. You want it to be a pouring consistency. Pour into a pretty jug for serving.

Note:  If your custard does stick and become a bit lumpy or scrambled like, it might be able to be saved! Quickly remove it from the heat and mix thoroughly. Grab a sieve and run it through it, using the spoon to smooth out any lumps. If you catch it in time, this should save it! 


When you think your apples are baked, take them out of the oven and leave them to rest for 5 minutes. They’ll be very hot. You should see them splitting out of their skins a little bit and if you tip them with a spoon, you’ll notice they’re very soft. There’ll be juice in your tin which has been formed from your sugary mix. Don’t throw this away – it’ll make a lovely syrup when it comes to serving.
To serve your apples, lift them gently (you don’t want them to break at this stage!) into a pretty serving bowl. Add in any syrup from the bottom of your tin and pour as much custard over as you desire. Get into your sitting room and enjoy in front of the fire. What could be better?

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