It’s the season for picking apples and early varieties are already in the market.
With the exception of Red Delicious apples, which are best suited for eating out of hand, or in salads, the majority of apples available right now, such as Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, are excellent choices for making today’s recipes for baked apples and King Arthur Flour’s Apple Pie Bars.
Because of their exceptional ability to hold their shape when baked and their firm, sweet flesh, Golden Delicious apples were chosen for the baked apple recipe, this one baked in rich Wood’s Boiled Cider, a product of the Wood family of Vermont, who have been making boiled cider since 1882.
Being one of the best apples for use in pies, crisps and cobblers, Granny Smith apples is the baking apple mentioned for use in the bar recipe. Available all year long, Granny Smith apples also hold their shape well when baked. Because Granny Smith apples are very tart, some bakers like to combine them with sweeter baking apples (like Golden Delicious) in recipes.
Whenever selecting apples, look for apples that are blemish-free and firm. Once you bring your apples home, store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator – apples stored at room temperature will soften 10 times faster than an apple kept chilled. Stored properly, apples will keep for several weeks.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at email@example.com.
This recipe is made with Wood’s Boiled Cider, “a New England traditional syrup made by evaporating fresh apple cider.” The Wood family, who has been making boiled cider since 1892, farm still grinds and presses apples on the farm’s original screw press. For further information visit www.woodscidermill.com.
4 Golden Delicious apples, cored, with tops removed.
½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Juice from ½ of a fresh lemon
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped dried figs
¼ cup chopped dried cranberries
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing baking pan
¾ cup Wood’s Boiled Cider,* or homemade boiled cider (see recipe below Kitchen Ade note)
Crème fraîche, for topping, store bought or homemade (recipe follows)
(pronounced “krem fresh”)
2 tablespoon of buttermilk or sour cream
2 cups heavy cream
Apples Baked in Boiled Cider
Stir the buttermilk (or sour cream) and cream together in a glass bowl. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature overnight to thicken. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Makes 2 cups.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the skin from the top third of the apples. Rub exposed parts of the apple with the lemon juice. Place apples in a buttered 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Pour boiled cider into the bottom of the dish.
Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest, walnuts, raisins, figs and cranberries. Stuff filling evenly into the apples. Dot apples with butter.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until apples are tender, basting frequently with Boiled Cider. Top with crème fraîche for serving. Makes 4 servings.
*Kitchen Ade note: It will take you hours to make your own boiled cider, but if you want to try it, here’s how: Bring a gallon of apple cider to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed nonreactive stockpot. Once the cider comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cooking for about five hours, or until the liquid is reduced by a little more than half and the syrup coats the back of a spoon. (The consistency will be similar to that of maple syrup.) During the last hour of cooking, watch syrup closely, being careful not to let syrup scorch or become too thick. Pour mixture into sterilized jars and cover tightly when cool. Store in refrigerator.
Apple Pie Bars with Salted Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce
Recipe and photo courtesy King Arthur Flour (www.kingarthurflour.com), 800-827-6836
For the crust
2 cups King Arthur Perfect Pastry Blend or Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
For the filling
About 6 cups peeled, cored and sliced baking apples; Granny Smiths are fine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon apple pie spice
2 tablespoons Wood’s Boiled Cider*
3 tablespoons King Arthur Pie Filling Enhancer*
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (egg wash)
Salted Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce, or homemade Caramel Sauce for topping (recipes follow)
To make the pastry: combine the flour and salt. Work in the butter, then sprinkle in the water, mixing until cohesive. Form the pastry into two rectangles; wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment.
To make the filling: Mix all the ingredients except the egg. Roll one piece of pastry into a 17 x 7-inch rectangle, trimming the edges. Roll the second piece into a 16 x 6-inch rectangle, trimming again. Place the smaller rectangle on the pan and brush with egg wash. Spread the filling over the pastry, leaving ¾-inch wide bare edges. Center the other piece of pastry over the apples and press down, crimping the edges to seal. Brush with the egg wash, and cut several vents, to allow steam to escape. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 12 to 14 minutes, until golden brown. Yield: 16 to 20 servings.
Tips from King Arthur bakers: To ensure that no filling leaks out of the pie, bring the edges of the bottom piece of dough up over the top edges before crimping and sealing.
Salted Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce
1 pound caramel, preferably from a block*
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or Vanilla Bean Crush (available at King Arthur Flour)
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup heavy cream
Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Stirring frequently, continue to heat until the caramel has liquefied and the ingredients have blended together.
Transfer to jars and cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Yield:1 cup sauce
Homemade Caramel Sauce
Recipe courtesy King Arthur Flour (www.kingarthurflour.com), 1-800-827-6836
Start with sugar, butter, salt and cream. Add heat. Finish with vanilla or the complementary flavor of your choice (or a spoonful of rum). The result? Thick, rich caramel sauce. The directions for this sauce look a bit fussy at first glance, but follow them carefully and you’ll do just fine.
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cold water
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, melted
½ cup (4 ounces) heavy cream or whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla; or ¼ teaspoon butter-rum or butterscotch flavor; or 1 tablespoon rum
Place the sugar, salt and water in a deep, heavy-bottom saucepan; it should be at least 2-quart capacity, as the syrup will bubble up during preparation. Stir to combine, and heat over medium-high heat, stirring to help it along, until the mixture starts to bubble. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and watch carefully. The syrup will begin to turn golden around the edges. Shake the pan in a swirling motion to keep the syrup moving, and to prevent the edges from burning before the center colors. Stir the edges in towards the center occasionally. After a couple of minutes, the syrup will begin to darken. If it looks like it’s getting dry on top, stir until it’s syrupy again.
As soon as it’s a rich amber color, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter. Once the butter has been absorbed, stir in the cream. Stir until smooth; don’t worry, it’ll seem lumpy at first, but will smooth out. Add the vanilla or flavor of your choice; butter-rum is tasty. Or, stir in a tablespoon of rum.
When the sauce is smooth, let it sit in the pan for a couple of minutes before pouring it into a glass or ceramic container to cool. Cool to room temperature, and store in the refrigerator. Reheat briefly before serving.
Yield: about 1 1/3 cups sauce.