These apples perfume the kitchen during baking and the juices result in a sweetly spiced sauce. Add a scoop of ice cream for dessert or serve the apples plain for breakfast. Or even better — smother them with leftover eggnog as we did for our holiday feast. Decadent!
Here is a closer look at some of the apple varieties I like to use when baking. Which variety do you prefer?
These apples have been imported from New Zealand, but Americans can get them closer to home now, from Washington state. They are great baking apples because they maintain their shape well. Think Granny Smith.
If a McIntosh and Red Delicious had an apple baby, this would be the result, but the Empire is much better as a baking apple. This sweet-tart apple’s skin turns a pink when cooked.
Sweet-but-mellow is the way to describe the flavor of this crisp, red-yellow apple. It is a descendent of Macoun, Golden Delicious and Haralson varieties.
These are not the best for baking because they don’t hold their shape quite as well as some other varieties. But the sweet-tart flavor might be enticing enough to cook them anyway.
On the one hand, Rome apples are large, which is always a plus when baking them. On the other hand, the skin can split and become rough after cooking. But if you’re looking for a tart taste, try experimenting with this variety.
Old-Fashioned Baked Apples With Sweet Season Spices
Serving Size: 6 servings
- 6 large (7 to 10 ounces each) baking apples, such as Braeburn, Empire, Honeycrisp, Jonathan or Rome
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon Sweet Seasons Spice Blend or cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
- Using an apple corer or a small, sharp paring knife, core the apples. (The center cavity should be no more than 1 inch in diameter.) If necessary, trim a thin slice from the bottom of each apple so it stands upright.
- Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, peel away a 1-inch ring of skin from around the top of each apple. Using the tip of a paring knife, make four small slashes about 1/2 inch deep around the equator of each apple. (These steps aid the release of steam, which helps the apples remain intact rather than collapsing.)
- Place the apples in a baking dish just large enough to contain the apples, such as a 9-by-9- or 7-by-11-inch baking dish.
- In a bowl, combine the juice, lemon juice and vanilla and pour the mixture around the apples. In the same bowl as you used for the juice mixture, combine the raisins, oats, breadcrumbs, sugar, maple syrup, butter and spices. Divide the mixture evenly among the apples, spooning it into the cavity.
- Bake the apples, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until they are tender when pricked with the tines of a fork, 45 to 65 minutes, depending on the size and variety of apple. If they begin to darken cover with foil and continue to bake until tender. Set the apples aside to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. (May cover and refrigerate for up to several days and reheat until warm, but not hot, before serving.)
- To serve, spoon the apples into individual bowls and spoon the warm juices over and around the apples.
This recipe uses the Sweet Seasons Spice Blend.