You probably already have all the ingredients to make this incredibly unique custard cream cake. And, since apricots are oh-so-fabulous right now, I thought: why not bake them into the top of the pastry?
Now, there’s nothing heavy about this cake. It’s cool and perfectly sweet, and I especially love the tart bites where the apricots merge with the creamy vanilla custard. Heavenly.
Will any fruit work in this custard cake?
Any stone fruit will work in this recipe as written. So, let us all know what you try! Look for mostly ripe peaches, plums, or nectarines and cut them into thick slices.
Want to use raw fresh berries? When you assemble the cake layers, simply add the berries right on top of the custard. Talk about yum.
In terms of texture, this cake will totally remind you of an eclair. So, naturally, you could skip the fruit all-together and drizzle the entire cake with a jaw-dropping amount of chocolate.
To do this: Melt 1/4 cup chocolate chips in a ramekin (about 20 second intervals in the microwave). Stir well to create a smooth, wet texture. Use a spoon to drizzle thin streams all across the top of the cake. Refrigerate and serve or refrigerate, then drizzle (either way works). *If you do this, tag me @thefrayedapron on Instagram (I WANNA SEE).
I recommend some slivered almonds or just a light dusting of powdered sugar just before serving. I didn’t have any, so I made it.
Technique Tip: To make your own powdered sugar, add 1/4 cup granulated sugar to a coffee grinder. Blitz it for about 1 minute, and you have powdered sugar. Use a slotted spoon or mesh strainer to dust over pastries or french toast.
Top Tips for Making This Custard Cake
- Once the cake pans go into the oven, keep the oven door closed. Every time you open the oven door, you let out 50 degrees of heat and risk your pastry falling.
- Be sure to use your muscles to mix that batter for a smooth consistency. I like to hold the bowl against my body and whisk for about 2 minutes, breaking up chunks as I go.
- When heating the custard, you must stir constantly and watch it very closely. As soon as it begins to bubble, it only takes about 3 minutes to thicken (usually within the last 30 seconds of the 3 minute mark). Remove from heat immediately to prevent scorching.
- Either bake the cake on top of a circle of parchment for easy removal or use an offset spatula to gently pry it away from the pan.
- Forget about time. Go by the color of the cake to determine doneness. It should be firm to the touch and the color should be golden. This means, you will likely cook the fruit layer for between 5-8 minutes longer than the non-fruit layer (note: Yes, it’s ok to open the oven door to pull the non-fruit cake out).
- Set the butter on the counter (for the custard) while you make the cake batter. Room temperature butter is easier to cream.
Custard Cake with Apricots
- 2 (9-inch) cake pans
- egg beaters or stand mixer with whisk attachment
For the Batter
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup milk 2% or whole milk is best
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 large eggs
- 5 medium-ripe apricots pitted and cut in half (for layer 1)
For the Custard
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ cup milk 2% or whole milk is best
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 390°F.
Make the Cake Layers
- In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the milk, water, and salt and bring to a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder then add to the bubbling mixture little by little, stirring constantly, until the mixture resembles mashed potatoes and pulls away from the sides of the pot, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and allow to cool, about 2 minutes.
- Add one egg at a time, stirring well after each addition. Use a whisk to mix hard to form a very thick but smooth batter. Divide the mixture evenly into two cake pans and use a spatula to spread the mixture to the edges, smoothing the surface as you go. Note: It will be very thin at this point but will puff up while baking. Gently press the apricot halves on top of one layer; this will be the top of the cake.
- Bake on the center rack of the oven until both cakes turn golden brown and are fairly firm, about 20 minutes for the non-fruit cake and 28 minutes total for the layer with the fruit. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then gently remove and set on a serving platter.
Make the Custard Filling
- In a medium pot, combine the eggs and sugar. Whisk until smooth then add the flour a bit at a time, while whisking, until fully incorporated. Add the milk, whisking continuously until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat; Stir continuously until the mixture thickens then remove from the heat, about 3 minutes from the time the mixture begins to simmer.
- Use egg beaters or a stand mixer to slowly beat the butter, increase to high speed and cream for about 3 minutes. Add the custard mixture and vanilla extract. Beat over medium speed until very smooth and creamy. Pour over the non-fruit cake layer, smoothing to the edges with a spatula. Set the apricot cake layer on top. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours then serve.
Use Your Dutch Oven to Bake this Cake
If you’re a regular reader, you know that I adore Dutch oven baking and have a cookbook coming out soon about Easy Dutch Oven Cooking. Well, wouldn’t you know it, this is a Dutch oven friendly recipe.
To bake the cake in your Dutch oven, spread a thin layer of the batter on a sheet of parchment paper. Set the parchment paper in the Dutch oven and bake until puffy, slightly firm, and golden. Lift to remove. Repeat with the second layer (add the apricots).
You can even use the Dutch oven to make the custard, making this a 1-pot recipe!
Bare in mind, the Dutch oven is great at distributing heat, so you may find that my suggested cook times are off by a minute or so. Be sure to use the descriptions of what each step looks like as a guide for the very best results.
More Dessert Recipes
- Berries and Whipped Cream with Orange Liqueur and Caramel Dust
- Lemon Custard Ice Cream
- Buttermilk Blueberry Clafoutis
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Step 2, 2nd line says to “spoon half the mixture into two cake pans” – did you mean divide the batter into two pans or to just use half and reserve the remainder for a later step?
Use the entire batter and divide evenly in 2 cake pans. I corrected the instructions to make this clearer. Thanks for the catch!