Fall weather is a great invitation to start baking. There’s something about the cool autumn air that makes us want to get in the kitchen and just bake, bake, bake. From fall breads to baked apples and pumpkin pies, there are countless recipes for baking with our favorite autumn ingredients – including pumpkin, cranberries and apples.
Apples are one of our favorite fruits to bake with — they’re easy to find, available year round, and last a long time. Whether they’re baked into a pie or muffin, this fruit can do it all. But not all apples are created equal. When baking with apples, you need to keep in mind that texture is really important. Good baking apples have a balance of intense sweet-tart flavor and will not fall apart in the oven. They should hold their shape and not turn into mush – you’re not making applesauce!
Even though some apples are better suited for certain kinds of recipes than others, you don’t have to limit yourself to using just one kind of apple when you’re cooking or baking. Many bakers like to use a variety of apples to get more complex flavors and textures. Also remember that sometimes baking apples may not taste great raw, but are delicious once baked.
With so many varieties of apples to choose from — over 2,500 in the U.S. alone — no wonder it’s challenging to know which apple to use for what kind of recipe.
Here is a list of some of our favorites:
Braeburns have a sweet-tart flavor, with a texture that remains firm when it’s baked. An all-purpose apple, it works well in pies and tarts where you don’t want the filling to be overly juicy.
Cortlands are juicy and slightly tart. They are a terrific baking apple in pies, cobblers, and crisps.
Empires are a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious apples. Firm-textured and sweet-tart, the Empire is a fine all-purpose apple good for juice, sauce, pies, baking, salads, eating fresh, and drying.
Firm, crisp, and juicy, Fuji apples are among the most popular apples for eating fresh, but they’re also great for baking, as they hold their shape when baked.
A crisp, sweet apple with a mild flavor. They’re best for salads, applesauce and cider.
The Golden Delicious is sweet, with a rich, mellow flavor. It is one of the best all- around cooking apples, as it maintains its shape after baking.
One of the most popular tart apples, Granny Smiths are crisp and quite sour. They’re a good all-purpose cooking apple, and their flavor is enhanced when paired with sweeter, spicier apples in pies and crisps.
As the name indicates, they are crisp and juicy, with a honey-sweet and tart flavor. Honeycrisps are fantastic eating apples. Honeycrisps are also good for baking and applesauce.
A blend of Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples, Jonagolds have a tangy-sweet flavor. With a yellow-green base and a blush stripe, is excellent both for eating fresh and for cooking.
Jonathans are quite tart, with a rich, slightly spicy apple flavor. They hold their shape well when baked. They are also good in salads and for applesauce.
A classic bright red apple, juicy, crisp McIntosh’s tend to break down when cooked. They are delicious eaten out of hand or in sauce, and are best paired with Golden Delicious or other apples in pies and other baked goods.
The Winesap is very firm and aromatic, with a spicy bite. A sweet-flavored apple, Winesaps are good in sauces and for baking. Be sure to visit our friends at Hidden Valley Fruit Farm for their outstanding apple selection. They are located at 5474 N. State Route 48 in Lebanon – just 15 miles south of Dayton. For their hours of operation and more information visit
One of the definitive desserts of fall, apple crisp is easy and economical.
Test kitchen tip: Empire, Gala, or Braeburn apples are especially good in this
Prep: 20 mins
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 25 MINS
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
3 pounds apples, such as Empire, Gala, or Braeburn, peeled, cored, and cut into
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Cut butter into flour, using a pastry blender or two knives, until mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add oats, and use your hands to toss and squeeze mixture until large, moist clumps form. Transfer to freezer to chill while you prepare apples.
2. In another large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice, cinnamon, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Transfer to a shallow 2-quart baking dish, and sprinkle with topping mixture. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until golden and bubbling, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
This cinnamon-scented crisp is best served still warm from the oven, topped with a scoop of vanilla, cinnamon, or caramel ice cream. The secret to a crunchy, chunky topping is working the oat mixture into large clumps with your hands — this helps the topping hold together atop the apples while toasting to a golden brown.