One of the most popular treats over Christmas, indeed all through the cold season, is the baked apple. The culinary tradition of serving baked apples in winter goes back a long way and continues to be enjoyed to this day. As the days get shorter and the evening sky turns velvet blue earlier and earlier, the hustle and bustle on the streets slows down a little earlier too. The perfect time to spend time in a warm kitchen cooking up this scrumptious treat!
What makes a good baked apple? Since, as they say, all good things come in threes, we're going to stick to this golden rule and have three tips for you.
Number 1 - The Apple Variety
When choosing a variety, it's more about consistency in this case than taste. The apple should be firm so that it doesn't disintegrate in the oven and remains easy to spoon out once baked. Firm apples such as Boskoop, Cox Orange, Berlepsch, Jonagold and Gravensteiner are excellent choices. Many people consider the tart taste of these apples to be a plus.
Number 2 - The Filling
Having the perfect tool here is important - an apple corer is indispensable and totally worth it, even if this is the only time of year it gets used. But a word of caution: make sure not to punch a hole in the bottom of the apples or the filling along with the delicious juices will run out through the hole and the dish will be ruined. Now for the good stuff: the filling. There are many options but the classic filling of chopped nuts and raisins flavoured with cinnamon & sugar or honey remains popular. You can use almonds or a mix of nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts and even marzipan. Some people like to add a dash of amaretto or Cointreau to the filling. Once all the ingredients have been mixed thoroughly, stuff the cored apples with the filling - but not too much.
Number 3 - Baking
What many people don't know is that the apples should be baked in a baking tin with some liquid in it. Usually it's a generous amount of a combination of apple juice and white wine. Leave out the wine for children and add some cloves to the juice instead. Depending on your oven, bake the apples at 160° to 180°C with fan or 180° to 200°C with top/bottom heat. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the apples.
Baked apples are often served with vanilla cream or vanilla ice cream. But even served on their own, this is an irresistible treat! And for those who would prefer a cup of tea instead of a glass of wine to go with it, we recommend mild black tea, oolong or rooibos.
Here's a classic recipe for the filling:
For 4 apples you will need:
40 g raisins or other dried fruit (apricots, plums, etc.)
4 cl rum, amaretto or Cointreau
40 g chopped nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts)
30g chopped almonds
70 g marzipan
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves (optional)
Briefly toast the chopped nuts in a pan and transfer to a bowl. Mix in all the remaining ingredients and let it rest briefly. Fill the apples and bake. Enjoy!