Apple & Fig Custard

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for dish
2 tablespoons demerara sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
3 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 tablespoons apple brandy or dark rum
3/4 cup creme fraiche, room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt, plus more
2 pounds firm baking apples (about 4 large apples), peeled, cored, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rings
6 ounces fresh mission figs, halved lengthwise

Place rack in top third of oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Combine granulated sugar and zest in a medium bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; save pod for another use. Massage zest and seeds into sugar with your fingers until the mix is very fragrant.

Blend eggs in a blender until very frothy, about 1 minute. With motor running, gradually stream in milk, then brandy. Add sugar mixture, creme fraiche, flour, and 1 teaspoon salt and blend just until smooth. Let custard rest while you roast the apples.

Cook remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns (do not let it burn), about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add apples, a pinch of salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar and toss to coat.

Arrange apples in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in oven, tossing halfway through, until carmelized and tender, 25-30 minutes. Let apples sit until they are cool enough to handle but still warm (otherwise they'll stick), then arrange in prepared dish, reserving a few slices for placing on top. Add figs, reserving a few for placing on top. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet and carefully pour custart over fruit. Arrange reserved apple slices and figs on top. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake custard until golden and center is firm, 30-35 minutes. Let cool before serving.


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