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When Fall hits, it’s time to start baking…with apples! But then the question gets raised, what are the best apples for baking? Well that’s what we are answering today in this post! Learn what varieties are the best apples to use and which kind of desserts they are best used for.
Apples are apples right? Just pick up some juicy red ones and break out that pie plate. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Some apples are best for baking. Some are best for eating. Some are best for pies. You get the idea.
And if you ever made an apple pie and had your filling turn to mush. Then you know that not all apples are created equal!
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How do you pick the best apples?
First of all, when its comes to apples, what kind of apples are we looking for? Well we want a balance of sweet, tart, and we don’t want them to break down into basically applesauce on us in the oven. Firm apples that won’t turn to mush in the oven is key.
You also want apples that not only firm, but also bruise free. Ripe apples should have a strong apple aroma.
What apples are best for baking?
When it comes to using apples for baking, I love to choose apples that will hold up well to baking but also have a bit of sweet and tart flavor to them. These are my favorite apples to bake with, but I also love to mix and match some of these apples. For example, I love using a combination of Granny Smith apples, which are more on the tart side, with a few Cortland apples, which are a bit sweeter and on the softer side.
These are available in early Fall, and are one of the sweetest apples around. They are juicy, crisp these won’t break down much when you bake with them. They are as the name suggests – sweet and crisp. Honeycrisp are also very easily available as well. And they hold up well when baking, so I love using this variety in all my apple recipes. Especially pies!
2. Granny Smith
These are those beautiful green apples in the store. They are crisp, tart and tangy. I always recommend peeling this variety because of the firm flesh. But these are the classic apple to use for pie because they hold up so well. I like to balance these out by using a sweeter apple like Honeycrisp or Cortland.
By far this is one of my favorite apples to not only snack on but also bake with. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small town called Cortland. They are a bright red apple (sometimes with a green blush) and bright white flesh. It’s softer in texture, but it still holds up well when baking. I love the sweetness of this apple for baking.
I prefer to pair this sweeter, softer apple with a more tart, crisper apple like a Granny Smith.
This is an all purpose apple, and texture that remains firm after it’s baked. Braeburn is actually part Granny Smith, so it brings that tartness to the table, but with more sweetness. With a sweet tart flavor it makes it ideal for pies and tarts.
Those are my 5 Favorite varieties that I bake with all the time. But the list doesn’t have to stop there!
5. Pink Lady
Pink Lady apples are another favorite of mine. They are a little sweeter than a Granny Smith. But they are still crisp, and slightly tangy making for a perfect apple to use in an apple pie or apple crisp.
6. Jonagold or Jonathan
Both Jonathan and Jonagold are very similar. Jonathan is a sweet and tart apple. Jonagold is a little bit on the sweeter side. They behave the same though while baking. Being a crisp, juicy sweet and tart you can see why they are a popular choice for baking. And they hold up well when baking which is what we want!
What apples are not good for baking?
I do NOT recommend a Red Delicious apple as this variety is not very flavorful. And I also don’t prefer using a MacIntosh apple because this apple does not hold up well during baking and can turn very mushy.
More Apples To Use When Baking
Depending on where you live, and when during September and October there may be other varieties you come across that are also great for baking. Check out one of these varieties to bake with if you come across them:
- Northern Spy
- Rome Beauty (mild in flavor so try mixing with another variety)
- Golden Delicious (if you want a softer sweeter texture)
- Gala (great sweetness, so may want to try if reducing sugar)
- Crispin (or Mutsus)
- Fuji (great for snacking, but hold their shape well for baking!)
Apple Recipes To Try
Now that we know what the best apples are for baking let’s get to baking something delicious!
Let’s Bake Together!
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Old Fashioned Apple Pie Recipe
- 1 double crust recipe *store-bought or homemade
- 3-4 pounds apples (about 8 large), peeled, cored, and sliced (see note)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3/4 cups (150 g) granulated sugar plus additional sugar for sprinkling on top of crust
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 egg beaten lightly with 1 tablespoon water (egg wash)
- Roll out dough. Remove one portion of dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes in order to roll it out easily.). Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle (about 1/8-inch thickness). Transfer dough to a 9-inch pie plate. I like to do this by folding the curst into quarters, or rolling over a rolling pin and then rolling out over into the pie plate. Leave excess dough that overhangs the pie plate for now and refrigerate while you prepare the apple filling.
- Make apple filling. In a large bowl, stir together apples, and lemon juice together In a second bowl, stir together sugar, flour, salt and spices together. Stir sugar mixture into the apple mixture until evenly coated. Spread apple mixture into prepared pie crust. Mound slightly in the center.
- Finish assembling dough. Roll out second piece of dough to 12-inch circle and place over apple filling. Fold top crust under the bottom crust. Flute edges or crimp with a fork. Cut 3-4 slits into the top pie crust with a sharp knife to steam the apple filling while it bakes. Refrigerate pie again for 30 minutes to help firm up the crust. Nearing the end of the 30 minutes, preheat oven.
- Preheat oven. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat the oven to 425oF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (to catch any drips), and place a baking sheet into the oven on the lowest rack to heat. Remove pie from the refrigerator and brush the pie crust with egg wash and sprinkle on additional sugar.
- Bake pie. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until filling is bubbling and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer. If the pie crust edges is getting too browned, cover with aluminum foil or a pie shield. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours before serving.
- Storage: You can make this apple pie the day before, covered at room temperature and serve the next day. Or you can make and store the fridge for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Any longer and I freeze slices for up to 3 months.
- Freezing a whole assembled pie: If you want to get a jumpstart on your holiday baking, then freezing your pie is your best bet. After you assemble your pie, you want to freeze the pie uncovered until it’s frozen. It’s best to freeze in a metal or ceramic pie plate. A glass pie plate may break going from freezer to oven. One frozen, wrap in 3 layers of plastic wrap and then in a final layer of tin-foil. Be sure to label the pie with what it is, date frozen, and baking instructions. When you are ready to bake, you do not need to thaw it. Un-wrap the pie and bake straight from the freezer according to the instructions (unless it’s a glass pie plate which could shatter – thaw overnight in the fridge if so before baking). You may need to add a few additional minutes of baking time at the end for the pie to bake through completely.
- Freezing leftover pie: You can also freeze leftover slices for up to 3 months. Wrap well and place in an plastic bag or airtight container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then serve (you can always warm back up in the oven or microwave before serving, which is what I recommend!)
- Pie Crust: You can use a store-bought pie crust, or make your own homemade double pie crust, or you could also use my all butter pie crust recipe as well.
- Apples: I like to use a combination of two different apples – Granny Smith and then a sweeter apple like Cortland, Honeycrisp, or Golden Delicious all have worked wonders. You can also just use 100% of one kind of apple – Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious are all great options if only using one kind of apple. I don’t recommend MacIntosh (get too mushy), or Red Delicious (lacks flavor). JonaGold, Gala, or Pink Lady are also great options.
- Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
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