The crispness is back in the air, thanks to apples

  • By Sara Moulton Associated Press
  • Thursday, October 17, 2013 5:16pm
  • Life

It’s apple season again, one of the few times of the year I’m sorry I live in the city, without a car. If only I lived near an orchard, I’d pick my own apples and be happy.

I console myself with the varieties now gracing the city’s farmers markets. It used to be that we’d have to be content with a strictly limited roster: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Macintosh. The end.

These days, thanks to adventurous farmers and the resurgence of all kinds of apple varieties, there’s a ton of exciting choices.

This abundance practically begs you to assemble the filling for this baked apple treat from a mix of different apples rather than from a single type.

Just be sure to taste the candidates before you start cooking to get a fix on what each one will bring to the table. Is it honey-like? Puckery-tart? Intense? Wine-y? Once you know, you can compose your own line-up.

Actually, if by chance you have a little extra time, you should try cooking each variety separately, then tasting it, because the taste and texture of a given apple can change significantly when cooked.

I added dried apricots to the apples for contrast. I love the tartness of dried apricots, particularly California apricots. Turkish apricots, the other choice, are quite sweet, not as bright and sunny. Or, if you’d prefer some other kind of dried fruit — cherries, raisins, cranberries or dried plums (otherwise known as prunes) — swap out the apricots for your favorite.

The only other flavors in the filling are sugar and lemon juice. You may need to adjust the amounts of these two ingredients slightly depending on the sweetness of the apples.

This kind of dessert — baked fruit with some kind of crust — happens to be my favorite. But crusts can be tricky, particularly pie dough. So this recipe is for the pastry-impaired. Instead of pie dough, we use French toast. Everyone can make French toast, even little kids.

Testing this recipe was a real learning experience for me. I discovered that if I didn’t bake the apple/apricot mixture long enough before adding the French toast topping, the apples wouldn’t become tender and give up their juice. I was suddenly reminded of cooking with mushrooms, which are so dry that they stick to the skillet when you first throw them in. A couple minutes later, though, the floodgates open and out pours the liquid.

For this filling, then, you should test the tenderness of the baked apples by piercing them with a paring knife, and check to see if there’s juice in the pan. Then you can top it off with the soaked bread.

Finally, I’ve billed this beauty as a dessert, but it would shine just as brightly for brunch.

Baked apples and apricots with french toast crust

3-4 apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced 1/4-inch thick (6 cups)

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup low-fat milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 slices whole-wheat bread, crusts discarded, cut in half

Low-fat frozen vanilla yogurt (optional)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In an 8-inch square baking dish, toss the apples with 1/3 cup of the sugar, the apricots and lemon juice. Cover with foil and bake on the oven’s middle shelf for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla extract.

When the apples have baked, remove the foil. Dip the bread halves in the egg mixture and arrange them in a single layer over the apples, cutting the bread as necessary to cover all of the apples. If there is any egg mixture left, pour it over the bread. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, then bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve right away, topped with a small scoop of the vanilla frozen yogurt, if desired.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 190 calories; 20 calories from fat (11 percent of total calories); 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 60 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 29 g sugar; 6 g protein; 120 mg sodium.

More in Life

‘Last Jedi’ is the best ‘Star Wars’ movie since the first one

This instant-classic popcorn movie makes clever references to the past while embracing the new.

‘The Shape of Water’: 1950s creature feature meets 2017 allegory

Director Guillermo del Toro’s allegory bears his fetishes for monsters and surrealistic environments.

‘Ferdinand’ a modern take on the beloved children’s story

The lovable bull is back in an enjoyable but spotty animated film from the makers of “Ice Age.”

Art mimicks reality in engrosing ‘On the Beach at Night Alone’

The Korean film tells the story of an actress recovering from an affair with a married director.

Everett’s Michael ‘Scooby’ Silva is the leader of the (dog) pack

Since 2012, he’s built a thriving business walking dogs while their owners are at work.

Student winners to perform concertos with Mukilteo orchestra

This annual show is a partnership with the Snohomish County Music Teachers Association.

Seattle Men’s Chorus brings sassy brassy good time to Everett

The annual show, this year at the Historic Everett Theatre, has warmth of brass and pinch of sass.

This harp concert is worth the journey to Everett

Annual holiday show by Bronn and Katherine Journey is Wednesday at Everett Performing Arts Center.

Still looking for that one special recipe for the holidays?

Columnist Jan Roberts-Dominguez shares her traditional recipes for cheese soup and chocolate sauce.

Most Read