apple, pear and custard crumble cake

This is my ultimate “guess-a-cake”. I love cake and I love crumble, so I thought, “Why not combine the two?” Christmas is the perfect excuse for a big warm pudding like this.

serves 10 people, 2 hours

for the custard
300ml doable cream
50ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 large free-range egg yolks
25g golden caster sugar

for the crumble topping
125g plain flour
50g golden caster sugar
100g unsalted butter; softened
25g rolled oats
25g demerara sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon

for the cake
4 bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 pieces
4 pears, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
100g demerara sugar; plus I tbsp extra
1 tsp ground cinnamon
275g unsalted butter; softened, plus extra
150g golden caster sugar
250g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
I tsp vanilla extract

to make the custard
Put the cream, milk and vanilla bean paste into a saucepan, combine, then heat gently until it starts to simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and sugar in another large bowl until smooth and pale. Slowly add the cream mix in a thin stream, whisking all the time. Transfer to a clean saucepan and gently heat, whisking all the time, until it thickens. Pass through a sieve into a clean bowl and set aside to cool. Cover the surface with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming, then refrigerate needed.

to make the crumble topping
Mix the flour and caster sugar in a large bowl and drop the butter in lumps into the mix. Rub together using your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix in the oats and squeeze together so you have lumps of crumble.

for the cake
Heat the oven to 160C (180C non-fan). Place the apple and pear pieces on a baking tray, sprinkle over the tablespoon of demerara sugar and the cinnamon and dab on 25g of the butter. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring once so that all the fruit is coated. When it starts to soften, remove and leave to cool.

Grease and line a 10in spring-form tin. Set aside 3 tbsp of the cooled custard, then place the rest of it, along with the remaining butter, caster sugar, the 100g demerara sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and vanilla extract, in a large bowl. Combine using an electric mixer on a medium speed, or whisk by hand, until creamy.

Pour half of this into the tin, then evenly spoon over half of the apple and pear mix. Dot on half of the reserved custard, then top with the remaining cake mix. Top with the rest of the apple and pear and then the remaining custard.

Back to the crumble topping: sprinkle it over the top of the cake, followed by the demerara sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 45 minutes, cover with foil to stop it browning too much, then bake for another 30-40 minutes. Check with a skewer — it should come out clean, but remember the cake will be very moist. Enjoy cold or serve warm with more hot custard.