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Friday, October 19, 2012

A Guide to Baking with Apples


I love baking with apples, but which are the best ones to use for baking?  There are so many varieties to choose from and not clear descriptions on how to use each.  On a visit today to my local farm stand I found some guides from New York Apple Country on Apple varieties and uses.  Together with these and the Epicurious resource: A Visual Guide To Apples, I've listed recommended apples to use in baking, and shared some tips and recipes.  The best baking apples offer a balance of sweet and tart flavors as well as flesh that doesn't break down in the oven.  Once you know which apples to look for, experiment, mix and match to find your tastiest combination.

Hope this helps when you're choosing apples for your next delicious apple recipe!  Please add your comments to let us know your best baking apples and any tips :)


Characteristics: A lovely red hue with hints of yellow, this species is a hybrid of the Jonathan (not pictured here) and the Golden Delicious and bears a faint physical resemblance to both. Like the Golden Delicious, Jonagold is sweet and thin-skinned, but it takes from the Jonathan a smooth skin and tart flavor. It is versatile and can be used in any recipe calling for apples, excellent for eating, salads, sauce and baking.


Characteristics: A cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious, the Empire was developed by researchers at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in 1966. It is generally quite round, with a skin that's bright red with hints of green. The interior is crisp and creamy white. The Empire is firmer than the McIntosh, so it makes for a good cooking apple, ideal for eating and baking.

Granny Smith

Characteristics: You can't miss this apple, originally from Australia, with its bright-green skin, hard feel, crisp bite, and extremely tart taste. While some savor the tartness, others prefer to cook it, which sweetens it up.  An all−purpose apple, Grannys work equally well as a snack or in pies and sauce.

Characteristics:  Originated in Ohio in the 1820's as a chance seedling.  Mildly tart flavor. Firm, greenish white flesh.  Excellent for sauce, baking and pies, salads or just eating.

Golden Delicious

Characteristics: This all-purpose apple may share part of its name with the Red Delicious, but the two are not related. Golden Delicious apples are a bright, cheery-looking yellow with a relatively soft texture, although not as soft to the touch as a McIntosh or a Cortland. Thin-skinned, the Golden Delicious doesn't store well (it can bruise and shrivel), so try to use it as soon as possible. This apple is ideal for pies, salads, sauces, and freezing. 


Characteristics: Originating from New Zealand, this apple has a skin that's muted red with golden-yellow undertones and tinges of faint green. It produces a firm, crisp bite and offers a pleasing balance between sweet and tart. Firm to the touch, Braeburns are good for baking , salads and sauce, as well as eating just as they are.

  • TIPS:
  • Choose apples that are Firm and Shiny, without any bruises or soft, mushy spots.
  • Refrigerate Apples to retain their crispness.
  • To Prevent Browning, sprinkle cut apples with fresh lemon juice or dip into a solution of water and lemon juice
  • Mix Sweet and Tart apple varieties when baking a pie to ensure a balanced flavor. 
Here's some dessert recipes from NY Apple Country and Epicurious:

Official New York State Apple Muffin:

Apple Bourbon Cake:

 Old-Fashioned All-American Apple Pie:

And one of my favorites from my blog Apple-Pecan Upside Down Cake:
Happy Apple Baking!

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