(serves 4)

You often see large terracotta gratins filled with these baked apples on traditional style Spanish dessert buffets.


10g (2 tsp) butter (softened)
4 medium-size Granny Smith apples
250ml (1 cup) water
100g (1/2 cup) sugar

zest of 1 lemon
½ cinnamon quill
recipe Crema Catalana
4 tsp sugar (for sprinkling)


  • Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  • Grease ovenproof gratin dish generously with butter.
  • 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 of the apple 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 end down.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Remove from oven and leave to sit for about 10 minutes. Tip apples to pour off syrup into the gratin from inside the apple cavities
  • Fill cavity with Crema Catalana. Sprinkle with 2nd measure of sugar and using a chef’s torch brulee till dark brown, or place gratin under a very hot grill till sugar has turned dark brown.
  • To Serve: Place an apple in each serving plate, drizzle with syrup and accompany with any remaining Crema Catalana.