"Basic" Apple Pie


 
Basic Apple Pie - Sweet and tart apples are finely sliced, tossed with some flour and vanilla bean paste, then nestled inside a super easy pie crust and topped with a lattice and baked to perfection. This is the perfect fall pie, with a pie crust that is very quick and very easy to make - it is basically foolproof. #applepie #easyapplepie
Basic Apple Pie - Sweet and tart apples are finely sliced, tossed with some flour and vanilla bean paste, then nestled inside a super easy pie crust and topped with a lattice and baked to perfection. This is the perfect fall pie, with a pie crust that is very quick and very easy to make - it is basically foolproof. #applepie #easyapplepie
Basic Apple Pie - Sweet and tart apples are finely sliced, tossed with some flour and vanilla bean paste, then nestled inside a super easy pie crust and topped with a lattice and baked to perfection. This is the perfect fall pie, with a pie crust that is very quick and very easy to make - it is basically foolproof. #applepie #easyapplepie
Basic Apple Pie - Sweet and tart apples are finely sliced, tossed with some flour and vanilla bean paste, then nestled inside a super easy pie crust and topped with a lattice and baked to perfection. This is the perfect fall pie, with a pie crust that is very quick and very easy to make - it is basically foolproof. #applepie #easyapplepie

Hi hi! Happy Sunday! Things are finally kicking into Autumn here, which means it’s absolutely apple pie season (It’s always apple pie season IMO though). I had a some super fun visitors yesterday to my tiny wee NYC apartment, and we whipped this guy up, so I wanted to pop the recipe here for you!

Nz Chef Josh Emett and his lovely wife Helen are here in NYC at the moment, promoting Josh’s new book, ‘The Recipe’ (watch this space for a recipe from it coming your way v soon). It’s a collection of recipes from top chefs around the world - all the recipes look incredible, and the photography is so, so beautiful. Josh has some amazing restaurants back home in NZ, and does an incredible cooking segment on his IG stories, so we decided to join forces and make something together - an epic apple pie! My teeny NYC kitchen is a far cry from Josh’s insane kitchen back in Auckland, but we made it work!

We kept it simple and made a ‘basic’ apple pie - I say basic because we let the ingredients speak for themselves. I have a couple of other apple pie recipes here on the site, with caramel, cardamom, etc, but didn’t have just a plain old apple pie, so it was a great time to remedy that. We picked up some apples from the farmer’s market, then headed back to my apartment to make the pie. You really can’t go past a good apple pie and this one is just that - flaky pastry, and a packed apple filling. We went a little fancy on the lattice topping, which I love to make, but also love how it increases the ratio of the pastry to the filling, because as far as I’m concerned, the more crispy pastry the better. Enjoy! x

A few wee tips:

  • I love to use a mixture of apples to make apple pie. We used three - Mutsu, Honeycrisp and another green variety. The variation in flavour and texture makes for a super delicious pie - go for something a little sweeter, and something a little more tart. If you’re in NZ, a mixture of Braeburn and Gala would be great. Braeburn hold their shape nicely in the oven and provide the tartness, and gala is more sweet.

  • I made the pie dough for this the morning that we made the pie, but the night before works well too. You can also make it and freeze it for up to 3 months - defrost overnight before using.

  • I like using a wee tip that my friend Erin taught me to make the pie dough nice and smooth and easy to work with. I make the dough, shape it into two rectangles, rest it in the fridge wrapped for about an hour, then remove it and roll it out into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. I then give it a letter fold (as you would a letter), roll out to a rectangle, letter fold again, then roll out slightly, and shape into a disc. I then re-wrap it, and leave it to rest overnight. This makes the dough more homogenous without compromising the flaky texture that you want in the pie dough, and it makes it a total dream to work with. For me, it’s a game changer.

  • I like to divide the pie dough into 1/3 and 2/3 - shape the smaller one into a disc as it will be your bottom crust, and shape the top into a rectangle so it’s the right shape when it comes to cutting out lattices.

  • We used pie stamps to cut out the shapes for the edge of the pie - I have collected a whole bunch over the years - I have this set and this set of leaves, and then this set is where the flowers are from. I think I also have this set!

  • You want to ‘shingle’ in the apples when you are adding them to the pie, in order to have as few gaps as possible. Apples cook down in the oven, so layering them tightly ensures that they bake evenly.

  • Don’t be afraid to bake this until it is a deep golden brown colour - I do 20 mins at 425°f / 220°c and then at least 40 mins at 375°f / 190 °c, but check it as you are going and take it as far as you like. Golden pastry is my fave, but this will also help avoid a soggy bottom on the pie and make sure that the pastry is cooked through.

 

 

"Basic" Apple Pie

- Makes one 9” pie, serves 8 -

Pie Dough
540g All-purpose Flour
Pinch of Salt
1 Tbsp (13g) sugar
345g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
60g (1/4 cup) Apple cider vinegar

Filling
1.5kg apples, peeled and thinly sliced (yields about 1200g sliced apple)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
45g all-purpose flour
85g raw sugar (increase this to taste if needed)
big pinch of salt

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Raw sugar to finish

 

- PROCESS -

PIE DOUGH

Place flour, salt, and sugar into a large bowl. Mix to combine. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or  your fingers,  cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.

Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about 1/2 to 3/4 cup, but add slowly) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Divide the dough into two - I like to do a 1/3 to 2/3 split. Shape the smaller portion into a disc and the larger into a rectangle. If desired, roll out and perform letter folds after an hour of resting (see notes - I do this every time now and it makes such a difference). Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight. 

 

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

On a lightly floured surface, roll the disc into a circle slightly larger than your pie dish. You want it to be approximately 1/8 inch (3mm) in thickness. Line a 9" pie dish, leaving the extra dough overhanging. Trim the dough so there is about 1 inch overlapping the edge of your dish. Place in the fridge while you prepare the filling and lattice.

Roll out the second piece of dough (the rectangle) into a rough rectangle approximately 1/8 inch thick. Use a pastry cutter to cut strips for your lattice. If you would like to make a braid, roll a piece of pie dough into a long thin rectangle, cut thin strips, and braid. Place your strips and braids onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and store in the fridge until ready to use. Press together the scraps and re-roll, these are good for extra lattice strips or for using pie stamps to cut out for the border - freeze for 10 minutes or so before stamping out to help the stamps hold their shape.

Place the sliced apples in a large bowl. Add the vanilla bean paste. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl, then add to the apples and toss well to combine. Transfer the filling to the lined pie dish a little at a time, packing the slices of apple in tightly, and mounding in the middle. Remember that it will bake down a little, so it is ok for the pie to seem a bit full.

Arrange the strips of pie dough on the top of the pie, weaving into your desired lattice. If you are adding stamps, trim any overlapping pie dough and lattice strips so that they are flush with the edge of the pie dish, then glue on the stamps with a little egg wash. If you are crimping, trim the crust with a little overhang and then crimp as desired.

Rest the pie in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. While the pie is resting in the fridge, preheat the oven to 425°f/ 220°c. Place a baking tray on the bottom rack of the oven. 

Brush the pie with egg wash, and sprinkle liberally with raw sugar. Bake at 425˚f / 220˚c for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to go golden. Reduce the temperature 375°f / 190°c, and bake until the pastry is deeply golden and the filling is bubbling, 40 to 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, ideally with a scoop of ice cream.

Store leftovers wrapped in foil at room temperature and re-warm slightly when serving.

Basic Apple Pie - Sweet and tart apples are finely sliced, tossed with some flour and vanilla bean paste, then nestled inside a super easy pie crust and topped with a lattice and baked to perfection. This is the perfect fall pie, with a pie crust that is very quick and very easy to make - it is basically foolproof. #applepie #easyapplepie

Blood Orange Meringue Tarts


 
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue
Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue

Hi. Remember me? I'm sorry I've been away for so long. I have had a hard time getting motivated to do anything since the start of the new year. That baking hiatus I said I took? Still kinda on it. We've been sticking to a little routine, but I haven't felt any desire whatsoever to switch the oven on. So I didn't. And it felt good! I've been slowly working my way through a bunch of savory dinner ideas i've had lurking, and working on testing a couple of things (batch 285374 of macarons - anyone know how to deal with wonky feet!?!), but aside from that it's been super quiet around here.

I do however find myself compulsively buying blood oranges. There's currently about 30 in the fruit bowl, and I had to stop myself from buying more this morning at the supermarket. And you can't add them to dinner, so I had to make something with them! 

I love the taste of blood orange, and so wanted to keep it simple. The components for these tarts can be prepared well ahead of time, and assembled just as you a ready to serve. I went with the sweet pastry recipe from Tartine's book, then used it to make little baby tart shells (lining them is kinda fiddly, someone come do it for me?). I used pastry rings (I use these, in the 3 3/8" inch size, but these would work too) because I had seen it done on all the fancy shows. It turned out to be a little more tricky than it looked, but the recipe made loads of dough so I was able to practice a few times before I shot these. If you have tart tins with removable bottoms, they will work well too! 

I then filled the baked shells with cold lemon curd, and topped with a few blobs of swiss meringue. Swiss meringue gets cooked to a safe temp at the water bath phase, so you don't have to worry about raw egg whites. If I wasn't shooting them I probably would have added a couple more blobs of meringue so the whole thing was covered, and you got a little meringue in every bite. You could totally toast it too! 

A few wee tips:

  • The Sweet Tart dough (Pate Sablee) can be a little fiddly to roll out. I found that working it slightly in my hands to warm it before rolling worked best. 
  • I blind baked these using heavy duty plastic wrap and rice. I prefer to use rice as I find it fills the gaps much better than beans do.
  • You can do the tart shells in batches! They keep in an airtight container until you are ready to go.
  • If you would like the tops of the shell to be nice and smooth, you can give them a sneaky file with a microplane.
  • If you can, make the tart dough and the curd the evening before. They both benefit from some time to rest and chill well. Make the meringue just as you are ready to assemble, and pipe on. I used an Ateco 866 tip for these - my fave! 
  • Store leftover components separately, and assemble when ready to serve.
  • If you wanted to make these lemon, you could sub for lemon juice in the curd. 
 

 

Blood Orange Meringue Tarts

- Makes 8-10 mini tarts -

Sweet Tart Dough Recipe from Tartine

Sweet Tart Dough 
255g (9oz) unsalted butter, at room temp
200g (1 cup) sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 Large eggs, at room temp
500g (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

Blood Orange Curd
1 cup (240ml) blood orange juice
2/3 cup (120g) sugar
8 Tbsp (113g) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
8 egg yolks

Swiss Meringue
125g egg whites
190g sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

 

- PROCESS -

SWEET TART DOUGH

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla bean paste, and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, scraping down the bowl well between each addition. Add the flour all in one go, and mix on low until incorporated. 

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly to bring together. Shape the dough into two fat sausages, and wrap tightly in plastic. Rest at least a few hours, but ideally overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare your tart tins or rings (this can be done in a few batches if you don't have enough rings or tins) 

Cut a slice off the sausage of dough. Work lightly with your hands to warm up slightly. Roll out to a circle about 1/8 thick. Line the tart ring, ensuring the dough makes it right into the corners and is straight up the sides. Patch any tears if needed. Trim off any excess - you can keep the scraps to reuse later. Place on the prepared baking sheet, and Repeat with the remaining rings. 

Place the baking sheet with the lined rings in the freezer for 15 minutes, until firm. 

Remove from the freezer, and dock each shell a few times with the tines of a fork. Place a piece of heavy duty plastic wrap in each shell, and fill to the brim with rice, twisting the excess plastic wrap to make a little package. If you do not have heavy duty plastic wrap, parchment paper will work fine too.

Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove the rice and plastic wrap, and bake for a further 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the tins or rings. Repeat the process if needed to bake additional shells. 

File down the edges with a microplane if they are a little rough. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. 

BLOOD ORANGE CURD

Place a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the bowl does not touch the water. 

Place all of the ingredients into the bowl. Cook, whisking constantly, until the curd coats the back of a spoon and you can draw a clear line through it with your finger. Strain into a container, and place in the fridge to cool completely. 

SWISS MERINGUE

Measure the egg whites, granulated sugar and vanilla bean paste into the bowl of a stand mixer or other heatproof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the mixture, whisking often and watching the edges carefully, until it no longer feels gritty when rubbed between your fingers, and it registers at least 70˚c / 160˚f on a thermometer. 

Carefully transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form, approximately 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a french star tip (I used an ateco #866)

ASSEMBLY

Mix the cooled lemon curd with a whisk or immersion blender to ensure that there are no lumps. Fill each tart shell with curd, and smooth with an offset spatula. Pipe blobs of swiss meringue onto each tart. Torch if desired. 

Serve immediately. 

Blood orange meringue tart - sweet pastry filled with a blood orange curd and topped with a swiss meringue

Custard Square with Homemade Puff Pastry


 
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.

Happy New Year! I hope you and yours celebrated somehow, and that the start of the year has been good to you so far. We kept things pretty quiet around here - celebrated with some friends at a bar. We took a tiny bit of time off from the studio, but still somehow found ourselves working right after new year's day. I did take a little baking hiatus however - the pre-christmas rush really knocked me around a little, so it was nice to just hide from the internet a little. I made a couple of batches of cookies - Sarah Kieffer's famous pan banging numbers (forever dubbed FOMO cookies), and then Alison Roman's Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread which were also AMAZING in a totally different way. I also made a buttload of new dinner recipes - my new fave thing is to follow a recipe at the end of the day. Someone else making the decisions about what I am making and how I am making it is super relaxing. 

And then I started to get a little twitchy - I hadn't picked up my camera for a solid two weeks (and of course all the cards were full, and the battery was flat), and I had been DYING to try making puff pastry for the longest time, and I figured it was something that would need documenting. So I kick-started back with a recipe which was a combination of following a recipe (Erin Mcdowell's amazing puff pastry), and putting my own spin on an old fave, and landed here with this custard square recipe. 

From the response on IG stories, most people either love love love custard square, or have never heard of it. I fall squarely in the love love love camp - it was one of my favourite things growing up, They tended to be made with a greasy pastry and a bouncy yellow custard (unless you got a Denheath one, which I would pay serious money to have, RIGHT NOW), and even then were so amazing. The best bakery treat, and super satisfying to make at home yourself.

Custard square is a love story of three elements which are amazing alone, but come together to create actual magic. We start with flaky puff pastry - you can use store bought, but I chose to give making my own a try, and realised it was surprisingly easy. The pastry is baked between two baking trays to avoid extreme puffiness. Once it is cooled and trimmed, one piece is placed in a lined baking tin, and covered with a creamy vanilla bean custard. A second piece of pastry gets placed on top, and the whole thing goes for a nap in the fridge to set up. Once cooled, it is covered in a vanilla bean glaze (aka a fancy version of that shitty icing we all grew up on), and carefully sawed into squares. The combination of crispy pastry, creamy smooth custard and sweet icing is one of the greatest things ever. 

A few wee tips:

  • You can absolutely use store bought puff pastry in this recipe. - you will need about two sheets. Just make sure it is rolled out to a square about 12"x12" so that you have enough to fill the tin - it shrinks a lot when baked. I do encourage you to try making your own - I promise it is much less scary than it looks!

  • Bear in mind that if you use a different puff recipe or bought pastry, it may require a different baking time.

  • If you use a different pastry recipe, you will need approximately 700g dough.

  • I made Erin Mcdowell's pastry from her new book (which is amazing and you need). There is a chocolate version here. Erin does an amazing job of explaining here, so if you need visual pointers it's a great place to look!

  • Make sure that you allow time - it takes 2-3 hours (lots of this is waiting) to make the pastry, then the custard square ideally should cool overnight.

  • I found that when making my own pastry, obsessively squaring off the edges helped, along with measuring the temperature of the butter and the dough before I started the folds to ensure that they were a similar temperature.

  • You only use half of the puff in the recipe here - the rest freezes perfectly for use in another project.

  • You can get custard powder in supermarkets, or online!

 

 

Custard Square 

- Makes about 16 -

Pastry Recipe, with permission, from The Fearless Baker

Puff Pastry
Butter Block
453g (1 lb) unsalted butter, at room temperature
71g (2/3 cup) Bread Flour

Dough
397 (3 3/13 cups) bread flour
198g (1 2/3 cups) All-purpose flour
6g (1 1/2 tsp) fine sea salt
113g (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
287g (1 cup plus 3 Tbsp) cool water

Vanilla Bean Custard
720ml (3 cups) whole milk
480ml (2 cups) heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
pinch of Salt
65g (1/2 cup) custard powder
200g (1 cup) sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
70g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Icing
375g (3 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
45g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
whole milk to mix (a few tablespoons)

 

- PROCESS -

PUFF PASTRY

Cut a piece of parchment paper so it measures approximately 13 x 18 inches. (I use pre-cut sheets which are this size). Position with the short side facing you. 

In a medium bowl, place the butter and flour. Mix vigorously using a silicone spatula. Spread onto the bottom third of the parchment paper, and use an offset spatula to spread into a rectangle 6"x9", and 1/2" thick. Carefully square off the edges. Wrap in the parchment paper, and place in the fridge to firm up. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the bread flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. Add the butter and vanilla, and mix on low until the butter is fully incorporated into the mixture. Add the water, and mix until a dough forms, 5-6 minutes. Increase the speed, and mix on high for 2-3 minutes until smooth.

Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and pat into a rectangle with your hands. Wrap in the plastic and rest in the refrigerator for 40-50 minutes. 

Once the butter and the dough are a similar temperature (16˚c / 60˚f to 21˚c / 70˚f), remove both from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle 12" x 10", taking time to carefully measure, and squaring off the edges using a bench scraper if necessary. (This will make doing the folding much, much easier). Orient the rectangle so that the short side is facing you. 

Using the paper as a guide, peel back half of the parchment on the butter, and place on the bottom half of the dough, leaving a 1/2" margin around the edges. Fold the top half of the dough down over the butter block, pressing firmly around the edges to seal, and tuck any excess dough underneath the block. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and rest in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes. 

Turn #1: 4-fold

Remove the dough from the fridge, and unwrap. On a lightly floured surface, roll out to a 1/2 inch thick rectangle that is 13" wide and 19" long. If it is too warm and is becoming sticky, return to the fridge for a little more rest time. If it is too hard, allow to sit at room temp to soften a little. 30 minutes worked well for each rest time for me. Square off the edges. Turn the dough so a long edge is facing you. Take the left edge of the dough, and fold 3/4 of the way across the dough, lining up the edges. Fold the right edge to meet the left, about 1/4 of the way across. Fold the dough in half, left side over right. Transfer to the baking sheet, brush off extra flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Rest for another 30 minutes.

Turn #2: 3-fold

Remove the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, repeat the rolling process - roll to 13" x 19", and square the edges. Turn so a long edge is facing you. Fold the left side of the dough 1/3 of the way across, then fold the right side of the dough over the left (so you have 3 layers of dough). Place on the baking sheet, brush off flour, cover and refrigerate. Rest for 30 minutes.

Turn #3: 4-fold

Repeat the process for a 4-fold as explained above, taking care to square the edges. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.

Turn #4: 3-fold

This is your final fold. Roll out, square off, and repeat the instructions for a 3-fold above. Cover, and rest for 30 minutes. 

At this stage the dough is ready to be used - cut in half, and store the dough either wrapped tightly in the fridge (you will use one half for the custard square and you can keep the rest for another project), or in the freezer. 

To make the pastry sheets, preheat the oven to 180c / 350˚f. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take 700g of the prepared pastry (one half of the recipe above), and divide the piece into two. Wrap half in plastic and place in the fridge until needed - you will do this in two batches. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first piece of pastry into a square that measures 11" square - this allows for shrinkage. Place onto the prepared baking sheet, and top with a second piece of parchment paper, then place a second baking sheet on top, to help prevent rising.

Place the baking sheets in the oven, and place something heavy such as a cast iron skillet on top of the second baking sheet. Bake the pastry for approximately 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the top baking sheet, and parchment paper, and bake uncovered for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on the baking sheet, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Repeat the process with the second piece of pastry. Using a sharp knife and the tin you are planning on using as a guide, trim the pastry squares so that they are the same size as your tin (I used a 9" square tin). Set aside until ready to assemble. 

 

VANILLA BEAN CUSTARD

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, place the milk, cream, vanilla paste and salt. Heat over medium heat, until it is very hot to the touch and just shy of a simmer. 

Meanwhile, while the milk is heating, place the custard powder and sugar in a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Add the eggs, and whisk until well combined and slightly pale in colour. 

Once the milk mixture has heated, remove it from the heat, and, whisking constantly, pour half of it into the egg mixture. Whisk well to combine, before adding the rest of the milk and whisking very well. Wash and dry the saucepan, and return to the stove. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan, and place over low to medium heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, whisking constantly, until the custard is very thick. Remove from the heat and add the butter a small piece at a time, whisking to incorporate before adding the next piece. 

Use immediately for assembly. 

 

ASSEMBLY

Line a 9" square tin with two sheets of baking paper, extending over the sides of the tin to act as a 'sling'. Place the first piece of puff pastry in the bottom of the tin, trimming slightly to make it fit if needed. 

Pour the hot custard over the top of the puff pastry, and smooth with an offset spatula. Place the second piece of pastry on top, pressing down lightly to ensure there are no air bubbles. Cover the tin with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge to set for at least 3-4 hours, or up to overnight. 

Once the custard has set, carefully use the parchment paper to remove the custard square from the tin, and place on a chopping board or large plate. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using an electric mixer, combine the sifted powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla bean paste until fluffy. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until a spreadable consistency has been reached. 

Spread the icing over the surface of the custard square, then place briefly in the fridge to allow the icing to set. 

Once the icing has set, cut into 16 squares using a bread knife which has been run under cold water and then wiped. Use a careful sawing motion. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve. Best served slightly cold, on the day or the day after they are made. 

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. 

The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.