Bakers’ Apples

Bakers’ apples are one of my favourite, fairly simple desserts that aren’t quite as terrible for you as they taste. A couple of months ago, my friend Jessica and I had a baking night in her kitchen. It was a success; I produced four lovely apples, and she made a couple dozen chocolate chunk cookies. I feel as though, despite baking being a worldwide hobby, our little night had more to do to a link back home to the southern US than simply a desire for a sugar coma. All forms of baked apples — sweet glazed apple wedges, apple pie, apple strudel, and bakers’ apples — make me think of my childhood, and all are made infinitely better by the addition of a rich vanilla ice cream. This recipe is not an exception.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed (light, fine demerara can be substituted if necessary)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
4 Braeburn apples (my favourite. Fuji will also work well)
4 teaspoons honey
1 pinch of kosher salt

Hardware:
medium bowl for mixing
paring knife
baking sheet or pie dish
refrigerator
small spoon
wooden spoon for mixing (if you don’t like getting your hands dirty)
melon baller (or a teaspoon)
oven

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Combine all the dry ingredients and the butter cubes in the mixing bowl. I recommend combining with your hands because it produces a better texture, but a wooden spoon can be used if you’re squeamish. Rub the ingredients together between your fingertips until you have small clumps in a loose sandy mixture. Place bowl in the refrigerator while you prepare the apples.

Using the paring knife, cut a small bit from the bottom of the apples to create a stable, level surface. Cut into the top of the apples as if you were beginning to carve a pumpkin. It’s easiest to cut a cylindrical cone shape to start. Scoop the rest of the core and seeds out with the melon baller (if you have one) or a small spoon. Be extra careful not to push through the bottom of the apples.

Place the apples on the baking sheet or pie dish and retrieve your earlier mixture from the refrigerator. Pour a teaspoon of honey into each of the apples, trying to coat the inside walls as much as possible. Spoon (or use your hands) the mixture into the apples. Pack firmly until the mixture is heaped on top (and overflowing onto the sides if you’re like me).

Place in oven on top or middle rack for about 40 minutes. Check on them after 30 minutes. You’re looking for the top of the filling to be a lovely golden brown and the apple tender enough for your paring knife to poke through the skins without much resistance. If you can manage, let them cool for 10 minutes before diving in.

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