When I recently found my fruit bowl overflowing with pink lady apples, and 6 people coming for dinner, I dove into my favourite old cook books to see what they could recommend. Baked apples grabbed my attention right away – I had everything in my cupboard already.
I was really surprised by how tasty they were – “like an apple pie without the pastry” according to one of my guests. These are so comforting, dripping hot with sweet syrup and plumped up dried fruit bursting with flavour in your mouth. The apple becomes so soft it just falls apart as you cut through with your spoon.
This recipe is 100% adaptable depending on your tastes. Use any sort of apple, but Pink Lady or Granny Smith tend to hold their shape best. You can use any dried fruit you like – sour cherries are great, as are apricots, dates, sultanas, figs. The liquid is also up for interpretation – anything like port, brandy, scotch, apple juice, cranberry juice, even water would work.
As for the sauce, you guessed it, anything goes. Custard, cream, ice cream, yoghurt, caramel sauce – whatever you fancy. And while they are not the most attractive-looking dessert, rest assured the taste will not disappoint you.
Ingredients (serves 6)
6 whole apples
50g butter, melted
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup (or maple syrup, or honey)
½ cup dried fruit, chopped up small
2 tbsp port or any liquid you choose
2 tbsp walnuts (or any nuts you prefer such as almonds)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
Ice cream, to serve
Place your dried fruit in a small bowl with the liquid and allow it to soak while you prepare everything else.
Preheat your oven to 180°C and have a baking dish ready which is large enough to hold the apples without them touching.
Using a sharp knife, cut around the waist of the apple – this prevents it bursting as it begins to cook
Core the apples with an apple corer, or if you don’t have one just use a sharp knife to cut a square around the stem on top of the apple. Push the knife all the way through to the bottom so that you have a matching cut square down there. When it is cut all the way through you can push the centre out the bottom of the apple, which is weirdly very satisfying. Place your apples in the baking dish.
Add the melted butter, brown sugar, golden syrup, walnuts, cinnamon and mixed spice to your fruit mix. Stir until well combined. Smell it, it’s amazing.
Place a spoonful of the mixture into the apple, pushing it down to the bottom with your finger. Fill each of the apples until you have used all of your mixture. If you need to, add another sprinkle of walnuts so that the apples are full to the brim.
Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until completely soft when tested with a skewer. Plate up and serve with a generous scoop of ice cream.