Winter is upon us here in sunny California, which means it is 70 + sunny (as opposed to 80 + sunny). Nevertheless, it remains the holiday season, and conversation with siblings still inhabiting the Midwest carries with it a nostalgia for the cooler weather, cozy sweaters, crackling fires, and the comforting taste of a sweet + soft, baked apple pie. Today's pie is procured from the talented patissiers at Viktor Benês Bakery, a local neighborhood pastry house with a beautiful imagination for baked goods. They are consistent and carry a bottomless bounty of pastries...
When cooking, baking or working with apples in general from scratch, I find the pomaceous fruit to be fairly forgiving as they are pretty great with any texture: the refreshing crisp in it's raw, natural state; the pillowed tenderness from baking + browning; or the comfort of coarse puree found in apple sauce. Below is a simple recipe for Baked Apples; although, for a more creative twist on baking with apples, scour a few recipes on Food52.com, a fantastic community of chefs, home cooks, enthusiasts, and foodies contributing their tastiest secrets in the kitchen.
2 Pink Lady Apples - or apple of choice
Lemon Juice - freshly squeezed
3 - 4 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp Butter
Caramel Sauce (Try: Fat Toad Farm's hand-stirred Goat's Milk Caramel w/Cinnamon)
Whipping Cream (Beat in a bowl with mixer for a minute or so, until stiff peaks form)
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (If you're in SoCal, pick up a pint of the Old Fashioned Vanilla from Sweet Rose Creamery. A young creamery, quickly becoming an institution...)
1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
2. Cut apples in half & core center, leaving stems in tact. Place in baking dish or pan.
3. Brush open sides with lemon juice to prevent browning.
4. Melt butter, then mix in light brown sugar; Spoon mixture over apples; Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon (or sift it over apples for a more even coating).
5. Bake until tender & golden, about 30 minutes.
6. Serve warm with a drizzle of caramel + dollop of whipping cream; or your favorite ice cream.