Baked Apples


Baked apples, simple to prepare, can be elegant or rustic.

By FamilyTime

 

When autumn bursts forth in all its glory, apples immediately come to mind. We take the kids to pick-your-own orchards, we look for stacks of shiny red fruit at roadside stands, and we tuck crunchy apples into our lunch bags.

Apple pie, apple cider, apple crisp, and applesauce are commonplace in many homes. But what about baked apples?

Baked apples, easy to make and magnificently flavorful, are not as familiar in many home kitchens as other apple preparations. Once you try them, you'll be sold.

The Best Apples for Baking
While nearly any autumn apple can be baked, some are better suited than others. The best are firm and tartly sweet.

Some of the best baking apples are Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Ida Red, Northern Spy, Pippins, and Rome Beauty. Avoid McIntosh, Red Delicious, and Courtland, as these types soften so much during cooking they don't hold their shape.

Preparing Apples for Baking
If you have a small, sharp knife or an apple corer, it's amazingly easy to prepare apples for baking. Rinse and wipe them dry. Cut around the stem end (top) of the apple and cut out the core. Do not go all the way through the apple but leave about a half inch of fruit at the bottom.

Use the knife to smooth out the cavity, making sure all seeds and hard pieces are removed, but don't overdo this. You want the walls of the apple to be firm and thick.

Some recipes suggest you peel the skin from the top quarter of the apple. Use a vegetable peeler to do this or peel away the skin with a sharp knife.

Fillings for Baked Apples
The fillings for baked apples can be sweet or slightly savory. This makes them appropriate for dessert, brunch, or a light supper. Apples can be filled with mixtures made from dried fruits, nuts, ginger, citrus juice, spices, honey, sugar, apple cider, wine, or liqueur. Many recipes call for butter or margarine, too.

Once you mix the filling in a bowl, spoon it into the apple's cored cavity. Because this is a small space, it's advisable to chop the nuts, fruit, or other ingredients so they fit. Any filling that does not fit in the apples' cavities can be sprinkled over the dish.

Juice or another liquid may be used to moisten the filling, but it also may be used to pour into the baking dish.

Baking the Apples
Apples bake best in moderately hot ovens, which means 350° to 375°F. They also can be microwaved and even baked in a slow cooker.

Arrange them in a shallow baking dish without crowding or touching. There should be a little room between each apple so that they cook evenly.

Pour water or juice (or a mixture of liquids) into the dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for the suggested time (not all recipes call for a cover). This ranges from 30 to 50 minutes but the goal is to bake the apples until a skewer or sharp knife inserted in them shows that they are tender but not mushy.

During the final 10 or 15 minutes of baking, remove the foil cover, baste the apples with the pan liquid, and then continue baking the apples until tender.

Let the apples cool in the pan or not. Most recipes can be served warm or at room temperature.

Depending on the recipe, the pan liquid may be cooked down to a sauce or syrup and spooned over the fruit. Some sweet baked apples are served with ice cream or whipped cream.

All baked apples are delicious!