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Baked Apple Custard Dessert

Baked Apple Custard Dessert


I had the hardest time coming up with a way to start this post. There’s a wonderful, old family recipe I wanted to share with you, but if I told you the name of it right away, I feared no one would continue reading; and, well, that wouldn’t do. What good is the written word if no one reads it, right?

My kids’ reactions confirmed my dilemma. There I was coring and peeling apple after apple, slicing the crisp white fruit and dunking the slices into a bowl of water and lemon juice. “Apple sauce?” They guessed. No. “Apple butter?” No. Next they saw the flour and milk formed into dough. “Baked apple dumplings?” No. Then they saw the eggs and milk swirled together. They were stumped.

So I told them. It’s Apple Fish. “What’s that?” Eyes widened and mouths dropped open—just enough to let me know they were questioning what this concoction would be when it was all done. I’m sure thoughts were running through their minds like, So where’s the fish? and What exactly is an Apple Fish?


I eased their fears and explained. There’s no fish. The only place you will find fish in this recipe is in the name. Waves of relief washed over their faces, though they do like fish—just not with apples and eggs. “No fish?” No fish. I don’t think there is a species of fish called Apple Fish. It makes me wonder what they envisioned: a red or green fish with big bulging eyes? Or maybe a golden yellow apple-shaped fish with teardrop eyes.

Do you see the difficulty? If I had started out something like this: I have a wonderful old family recipe I’d like to share with you. It’s called Apple Fish. Seriously, would you have kept reading? Or would you have thought since it was an old recipe it might be something akin to pickled heart and tongue. No offense meant to anyone who likes those, but they’re not my favorite.

No, I doubt many of you would have kept reading; and you would have missed one of my favorite childhood recipes. Old family recipes have a way of bringing us back to the simpler times of childhood. In my mind I can still see my mom bringing a warm pan of it to the table. This was dessert, and everyone hoped they weren’t the last to get the pan passed to them. Cries of “Don’t take too much” or “Leave some for me” drifted around our table of eight. I looked forward to it. Thick slices of apple baked into a creamy, cinnamonny custard and topped with a simple crust. Rarely were there leftovers.

You might be wondering why it’s called Apple Fish since there’s no fish in it. Try putting it in a Google search, and you’ll come up with, well, nothing except this post—eventually. What I’ve always been told is that it’s an old family recipe from Germany. My great- grandmother, or more likely my great-great-grandmother, used to form the dough into the shape of a fish and then fill it with the apples and custard. I suppose she must have had a pan shaped like a fish because the dough is too soft to shape.


The Amish have interesting names for some of their dishes too. Here are a few I found while perusing some Amish cookbooks: Knepfle (I’m not even sure how to pronounce this), Yummasetti, Wigglers, Shoo-Fly Pie, Tomato Oysters, and of course Whoopie Pies. I’ve never found a recipe for Apple Fish in any of my cookbooks, so here it is for you now:

Baked Apple Custard Dessert (AKA – Apple Fish)


1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 ¼ c. skim milk (divided into ½ c. and ¾ c.)
5-6 c. cored, peeled, and sliced apples (about 10 apples)
¾ c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs



• Preheat oven to 400° F. You will need a square cake pan, 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 will do.
• Prepare soft dough by mixing together the flour, baking powder, salt, and ½ c. skim milk in a small bowl. The dough will be quite soft, but use the least amount of flour necessary during the next step.
• Take half of the dough and roll it out on a surface dusted with flour till it is the size of the bottom of a square cake pan.
• Carefully transfer the rolled out dough to the cake pan and use your fingers to finish forming it to cover the bottom of the pan.
• Core, peel, and slice apples into water mixed with a little lemon juice to prevent browning. I like to do this after I make the dough so the apples are not sitting in the water too long.
• Whisk together the 2 eggs and ¾ c. skim milk.
• Drain apples and distribute them evenly over the dough in the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and the ¾ c. sugar.
• Roll out remaining dough large enough to mostly cover the apples in the pan.
• Pour the egg and milk mixture on the apples.
• Carefully place the rolled out dough on top of the apples and eggs. You do not need to seal it to the edge.
• Bake at 400° F till apples are soft and custard is set, about 45 minutes.

Do you have any favorite recipes with interesting names? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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Marie Dittmer (38 Posts)

Marie is a registered dietitian with a master of arts in physical education/cardiac rehab. She’s a homeschooling mom of four who enjoys gardening, cooking, reading, and writing about food, nutrition, and health issues.

About Marie Dittmer

Marie is a registered dietitian with a master of arts in physical education/cardiac rehab. She’s a homeschooling mom of four who enjoys gardening, cooking, reading, and writing about food, nutrition, and health issues.


  1. Laura Lowry says:

    Love this dish (and the girls do too)! Thanks for breaking it down for a smaller pan. I’ve always made it in a regular 9×13 pan and it’s a lot of Apple Fish to eat.

  2. Martha Christian says:

    Marie–I am going to try this for my family this weekend. I loved the way you introduced the recipe to the reader. You always were an awesome writer and this post reminded me of that. I am actually going to share this post with my boys as a great example of how to grab the reader’s attention! Thanks for the recipe and inspiration!

  3. Peggie Kelly says:

    Can I use regular milk instead of skim? What type of apples do you use

  4. why can’t I print the recipe?

  5. I would have been curious enough to read just to find out why it was called Apple Fish. 🙂

    My family loves apple deserts. I’ll have to get more apples and try this one. The piece on the plate looks like it can be taken out of the pan once it’s cooked while holding it’s shape. Could it be turned out on a plate so the details of a molded pan would be displayed?

    • The top crust remains dryer and the bottom crust tends to absorb some of the liquid from the custard, so I don’t think it would work real well to turn it out. Hope you enjoy it!

  6. If you had a print button I would be more likely to click on site.


  8. how can I print just the recipe?????

  9. Charlene Dolos says:

    I also would like to print this from website… I can copy it to word pad, but it doesn’t allow pictures. So, if I make it, how can I tell if it is right?

  10. You asked for strange name recipes. We make one called Hoover dish. During WWI, President Hoover encouraged families to make meatless dishes — my Mother said it was for the war effort. This is a smiple potato, onion and cheese casserole. But we refer to it as Hoover dish since it was one President Hoover encouraged.

    • Your family’s “Hoover dish” was probably a Depression era recipe since Hoover was president (1929-1933) when the stock market crashed in October 1929. Woodrow Wilson was president during WWI. (US involvement April 1917 to November 1918).

      During WWII, housewives were encouraged to prepare “meatless-sweetless-wheatless” recipes. I have a copy of The Joy of Cooking that was printed during the war with a section dedicated to that type of recipes.

  11. Larry K. Dotson says:

    I am a divorced father with shared custody of my 4 year old son and 7 year old daughter and we all love apples and I love to bake. I have the apples, so I am going to try the baked apple custard dessert next weekend for the kids.

  12. I couldn’t get the crust to even get close to rolling out. I don’t know what I did wrong….it is stuck to my granite countertop!!

  13. Tracey Person says:

    Is this better hot or cold?

  14. Can’t wait to try this! Looks yummy! Love recipes with apples. Tk u for sharing.
    For those of u who r having problems printing, try this: highlight what u want to print, right click & “copy” – go to yr word processing program (Word, word pad, one note, etc.) – left click to make sure u r in the program then right click and “paste”. Go back to website – always left click as u go fm site to word pad, etc. this makes sure u r in the right place – go to the pic u want & right click on it then “copy” – go to “Word”, etc. – left click to make sure u r in “word” then right click & “Paste” – always make sure u r at the place u want the info to transfer to so things don’t run into each other. Maybe space a couple of times or “enter” to start a new paragraph or insert yr pic. I always copy my recipes this way so I don’t get all the ads with my recipes – only the info I want. Works every time. Good luck!

    • Spinnin Jenny says:

      I do this too. Also, I always copy the web link, and paste it underneath the recipe name. If I ever have a problem with the recipe, or need something from the same site, I always have the link to that recipe.

  15. i made this for my whole family and everyone seemed to love it i will be for sure making this again…

  16. Is this Apple Fish dish suppose to be eaten Hot, Warm or Cold?

  17. I made the receipt but had a lot of trouble with spreading and rolling the crust. it is in the oven right now and smells great. every year I pick apples with the grandsons so any new idea for apples is great

  18. Love the story behind it:) Can’t wait to make Apple Fish, just went apple picking and needed a new recipe.

  19. Crust was hard as a rock and had absolutely no flavor. Would use regular pie crust if I were making it again. Inside turned out alright, but I would toss the apples in the sugar and cinnamon like you’d do for a pie.

    • Agreed. The “dough” was more like cooked glue. Not a very good “crust” at all. There’s no butter in it to make it flaky for a fork!

  20. Sandie Wagner says:

    My mother-in-law made a dessert that she called blind fish which is very similar to your , only Se used pie crust and apples and milk instead of eggs. I will make yours and see what the difference is. She was from a German background too.

  21. I am a pretty good baker and this recipe came out really horrible. I followed the instructions but the top came out really hard, couldn’t salvage the apples. Thank you for the recipe. I will try some of the other ones. Guess I had a witch in my kitchen.

  22. Mrs. Rahab McClendon says:

    I loved your “sharing”! Your writing encouraged me to do two things; write MORE and BAKE APPLE FISH TONIGHT!!❤️ I can’t wait to tell you how it turned out! Headed to the Florida Farmers Market to get the best apples and variety I can touch!!

  23. Obviously an UNTESTED recipe. The recommended pan size is way too small. The apples came out under cooked. Very disappointing.

  24. If I used a 9” x 11” glass pan, would I just use the same amount a ingredients or double it?


  1. […] now and there are so many wonderful recipes to make with them. I’m sharing a recipe over at Not Quite Amish Living today for an apple […]

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