I’m not sure why we loved Mom’s baked apples so much. They are a homely dish, not fancy, and easy to make.
It might be that we got to eat a sweet dessert-like food for dinner — she never served them for dessert — we always ate them right along with whatever else we were having. Or it might be that she only made them in fall and early winter when we had fresh apples.
Depending on how long the apples baked, or how juicy the apples were, the recipe was never the same. Sometimes the sauce was thin and sweet, sometimes the sauce was thick and caramel-like; it didn’t matter, we always loved them.
We have four different apple trees at Apple Hill and only one variety has been absolutely identified: the Red Delicious. (They are the two apples on the right in this next photo.)
So in the interest of trying to determine what varieties the others are, I decided to make baked apples using all four kinds of apples. Two of each, knowing that Mom almost always used Red Delicious for hers. They are not a cooking apple, so they hold their shape very well when baked; and also, it’s a good use for them, because who really likes to eat a Red Delicious? There are so many better varieties — beats me why they ever got famous for being a good eating apple!
See the dish of walnuts on the right? Those are from our very own English walnut tree! Talk about being happy campers when we discovered that! We thought the tree was the traditional black walnut with those nuts that you have to drive a car over to get the husks off, as well as staining your hands and fingernails a beautiful, rich dark brown.
It took us about 30 minutes to pick and shell enough walnuts for the baked apples. Technically the nuts are supposed to dry in the shell for about a week, but we couldn’t wait! Maybe the next picking…
- Mix a stick of softened butter with some oats, some chopped walnuts, and some raisins. (Mom never used raisins; Dad didn’t like them.)
- Pour in some maple syrup. (Mom used brown sugar, and you are welcome to as well, but the maple flavor is yummy.)
- Grease a 9×13 pan with softened butter or coconut oil. (I told you these weren’t Mom’s baked apples.)
- Cut 8 apples in half and core them. (If you ask me, this is the hardest part!)
- Spoon the oat and nut mixture in to the center of the apples and sprinkle cinnamon over all.
- Pour enough water in the dish to just cover the bottom. I added a little more syrup — really just drizzled a bit more over the apples. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 for about an hour. (If you would like, you can uncover them for the last ten minutes.)
Serve warm with dinner. Pay attention now: this is not dessert. No ice cream, no whipped cream, no creme fraiche…
The experiment was a success. The greenish yellow apples on our side yard tree have been judged to be a Yellow Transparent — good for cooking and eating (just be sure to peel them).
The other two trees on the wild part of the property seem to be Jonathans (ripe now)
and McIntosh (not quite ready, but they still taste delicious!)
Verdict: the Red Delicious looked the best and tasted pretty good. The Yellow Transparent tasted good, but they separated from their skins and didn’t look so appetizing. The Jonathans looked just okay, but tasted the best. The Macs are definitely not for baked apples; they turned into crunchy applesauce.
Bon appetit, or in Greene County lingo — them’s good eatin’.