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Apple pastries

Flaky, buttery crisp pastry with oozy apple filling – this recipe from The Dusty Knuckle bakery is pretty irresistible

These were one of our first products. We were making them even while we were still baking in Max’s flat. Becca came up with them after she had something in Italy called sfoglia di mela and thought it was the most delicious thing she’d ever eaten.

The trick to these is all in the bake, which is so borderline to burning them that in the early days we would have to make double what we needed because we knew we would burn so many. Make a load and freeze them pre-baking, so that you can bake them from frozen any time you like.

They are delicious because of the savoury pastry that is rolled in sugar and filled with custard.

Master this crème pat recipe and you can use it for absolutely anything. We like to infuse the milk with spices or flavours (lemon verbena in the summer, cardamom in the winter) but the plain one here is delicious as it is. The trick to this is to put some effort into your whisking to get it silky smooth and to be brave with your heat, but whatever you do, don’t let it catch.

This recipe is an extract from ‘The Dusty Knuckle Cookbook: Seriously Good Bread, Knockout Sandwiches and Everything In Between’ (Hardie Grant)


Makes 12


Puff pastry
Caster (superfine) sugar, for coating
3 large cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced

For the crème pat

650g milk
6 egg yolks
150g caster (superfine) sugar
45g cornflour (cornstarch)
Pinch of salt
60g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  1. Method

    Step 1

    For the crème pat, heat the milk in a pan with as big and wide surface as possible over a low to medium heat. Stir regularly, making sure your spatula touches the bottom of the pan (milk is sugary, it burns easily).

    Step 2

    Meanwhile, put the egg yolks in a big bowl (save the whites for something else), add the sugar and whisk well until smooth and lighter in colour. Now add the cornflour (cornstarch) and continue to whisk. Once your milk is *just* under the boil, ladle one scoop of hot milk into the bowl with the yolk mixture and whisk it really well. Continue to do this until you have ladled and mixed two thirds of the milk into the yolk mixture. Now pour all of this back into the pan with the remaining milk, turn the heat up to medium and whisk as hard as you can. This is going to take about 15 minutes. Nothing will happen at first and you will start to lose faith, but after about 8 minutes or so you will see it starting to thicken. Keep going; it will foam up and, once the foam has all gone, you will have a silky-smooth custard. This is hard work; think of it as exercise and go for it. The better the whisking, the smoother the final result. Take it off the heat, add a nice generous pinch of salt and the cubed butter. Whisk until the butter is melted and totally incorporated. Transfer to a tub, put a layer of cling film (plastic wrap) on the surface to prevent a film from forming and leave to cool. If not using at once, store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

    Step 3

    Roll your pastry out in as close to a rectangle shape as possible. With a long side closest to you, roll this up into a sausage, tightly but without pulling on it wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

    Step 4

    Remove from the fridge and cut the sausage shape into coins that weigh about 65g (2¼oz) each. Don’t add extra on if you cut one too small, but aiming for them all to be the same rough shape will help them all bake evenly on the tray.

    Step 5

    Get yourself a big mound of caster (superfine) sugar and, with the palm of your hand, push each coin into the sugar so you are flattening it out (spiral facing you). Using a rolling pin, roll each out into an oval shape, to about 3mm (1/8 inch) thick.

    Step 6

    Spoon some cooled crème pat into the centre of one oval and place 3 apple slices on top. Fold it in half, very gently pressing the edges down, and pop on to a tray for the freezer. Repeat until you have filled all your pastry ovals. Let rest in the freezer for at least
    30 minutes before you bake them (but you can keep them in there for up to a month!).

    Step 7

    To bake, heat the oven to 210°C/190°C fan/410°F and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Place the pastries on the tray, leaving plenty of room around each so you can get the maximum heat. Bake for 25 minutes or until dark golden caramel in colour. Don’t worry if you get a few black spots too – this is what makes these boys so delicious, so be bold and courageous with your bake; burned doesn’t always mean bad!