It’s apple picking season! With so many of us heading to the orchards, I wanted to share a quintessential Autumn treat, Baked Apples!
Brown sugar, cinnamon & a pinch of nutmeg fill the hollows of cored apples while a homemade buttery crumble nestles on top. The aroma alone embodies the warm comfort of Fall and the soft fragrant flesh tastes just like apple pie. Baked Apples is a feast for the senses when the temperatures drop.
I have a penchant for orchards and for how they can make an ordinary day feel like a storybook fable with their rows of twisted branches and perfect fruit growing within reach. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this fondness for orchards before – and I’ll likely repeat it again in the future. They’re magical to me. I grew up in urban New Jersey, a few minutes outside of New York City, so orchards were a place we’d only visit once in a while.
In my present life, there’s an apple orchard just a few minutes down the road. I’m there several times a week, if only to hand-pick a few apples for a simple recipe like the one I’m sharing today. My children like to see who can pick the biggest apple, and the tiniest, and how many apples they can hear dropping from the trees to the soft ground.
Fuji and Rome Beauty apples are known to be ideal for baking because they hold their shape well, while others can get quite mushy fast. If you aren’t sure how your apples will fare, here’s a guide to help you along. Personally, I’ll use whatever apples I have on hand – I’ve never met a warm apple that I didn’t like.
In the following picture you’ll see that I’ve only hollowed and filled the core, leaving plenty of the surrounding apple intact.
In the next few pictures you’ll see that I’ve over-cored the apples, leaving only about 1/2 inch of apple around the inside. On this particular day, I knew I’d be adding a spoonful of oatmeal before serving to my children and wanted more room to do so. It’s a matter of preference, see how you really can’t get this recipe wrong?
Speaking of oatmeal, if I make a big batch of baked apples and have leftovers, a chilled (or warmed up!) baked apple tastes delicious the next day when nestled into a piping hot bowl of oatmeal. My kids love this! Yet another way to enjoy Baked Apples!
The wonderful thing about Baked Apples is that they are very forgiving. Play around the fillings, add toasted hazelnuts, oatmeal and raisins, or a splash of cream. Forgo the sweet route for something more savory by skipping the cinnamon and brown sugar and instead add goat cheese, honey and thyme. We vary this recipe throughout the season depending on the occasion and the company and what I have on hand.
Serve Baked Apples hot from the oven, room temperature, or chilled. Serve them as a dessert alone or with ice cream, enjoy them as a snack and even for breakfast – especially when served with oatmeal!
Happy apple picking season!
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4 medium baking apples
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
For the Crumble Topping:
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose, unbleached, flour
3 tablespoons salted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
For the Pan Sauce:
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon salted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a baking dish that adequately fits the apples, add the maple syrup, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and apple cider, stir to combine. Drop in a tablespoon of butter. Set baking dish aside;
- Use a paring knife or melon scoop to core the apples, keeping the bottom of the apples intact. Discard the seeds and roughly chop any edible parts from the core, set aside;
- Peel the top 1/4 of the skin from each apple (don’t forget to do this, otherwise the skins will likely bubble and bust);
- In a medium bowl, combine cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg and 1/4 cup of brown sugar, stir to combine. Add the chopped apples and gently mix. Spoon the mixture into the hollows of the apples, leaving a 1/2 inch or so from the top (you’ll need room for the crumbles); gently press the mixture down to get in as much as you can;
- Add a 2 teaspoons of the pan sauce in to the stuffed apples, make sure to also brush pan sauce on the exposed parts of the apple too. Add a scant dot of butter on top of each apple (add it right on top of the mixture in each hollow – just a half of a tablespoon of butter should dot all 4 apples);
- To make the crumble topping combine flour, chilled butter and sugar. Cut the butter into the mixture until the mixture resembles coarse sand;
- Spoon the crumble on the top of each cored apple. Press it down very gently to add a bit more, you don’t want to add too much though or it will make the center pasty;
- Nestle the apples into the baking dish with the pan sauce;
- Bake apples until tender when pierced. Depending on the apples used this can take about 40-45 minutes. You’ll know they are done when the apples are tender, not mushy.
- To serve, add as little or as much pan sauce as desired around each individual apple. Enjoy them hot, room temperature or chilled.
Don’t be surprised if you are left with some unused crumble. Depending on the size of your apples and how much was hollowed out of the cores, there may be leftover. Keep the extra crumble in a baggie in the fridge for a few days for any other Autumn baking needs.
Have fun with the fillings! Add toasted nuts, raisins, or oatmeal. My kids like a baked apple served right inside a bowl of oatmeal. Make the apples savory by filling with a combo of goat cheese and honey and thyme.
This is completely customizable!
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