How to Bake Apples

This eye-catching and delicious dessert is like apple pie minus the fuss.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Easy Baked Apples

When you want to serve a warm cooked-fruit dessert, but you don’t have the time to fuss with cobbler or pie, baked apples are the perfect go-to. A naturally sweet alternative to heavier, more-sugar-laden treats, they’re also fun and simple to prepare. And the heavenly sweet aroma that fills the kitchen as they bake? Undeniably an added bonus!

 

By Mindy Fox

The Fillings    

Experiment with lemon zest, a split piece of fresh vanilla bean or diced crystalized ginger. To this you can add whole or ground spices, like star anise, cinnamon stick or a pinch of nutmeg; coarsely chopped pecans or other nuts; and/or dried fruit, like cranberries, apricots, cherries or prunes. A little sweetener — brown sugar, honey, maple syrup or jam — is also nice.

Scoop Out the Seeds

To make dessert for 4 eaters, use an apple corer or melon baller to scoop out the seeds and a little bit of the flesh from 4 apples to form a cavity in each fruit, without piercing the bottoms. Any apple that’s good for baking — Gala, Fuji, Rome, Honey Crisp or Jonagold among them — can be used.

Flavor-Pack the Cavities

Stand the apples in a buttered baking dish just large enough to hold them. Now the real fun begins: Pack the cavities with a dab of unsalted butter (1 to 2 teaspoons per apple works well) and a little flavoring of your choice. Finally, there’s often a little liquid in the mix, such as apple cider or juice, or rum, wine or port, which can be drizzled into the cavities and/or heated with a little bit of butter and sugar, then poured into the baking dish. This liquid forms a light sauce that can be used to baste the fruit as it bakes. If you plan on basting the apples with a sauce, pierce the skins of the fruits with a metal or wooden skewer before filling the cavities to allow the juices to better meld with the fruit. Apples can be baked a few hours before serving and oven temperature is flexible, making it easy to bake them alongside a chicken or roast pork loin.

Make Them Juicy

Baked apples are ready when the flesh is tender when pierced with a paring knife; don’t bake them past this point or they’ll be mushy and may fall apart. A good general baking time is 25 to 45 minutes, depending on the temperature of the oven, and anywhere from 350 degrees F to 450 degrees F works well. When making baked apples ahead, gently warm them in a low oven for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Baked apples are best served warm. Now that you've learned the technique, try making Dave Lieberman's Baked Apples with Brown Sugar.

Get the Recipe: Baked Apples with Brown Sugar

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