Just last week we went apple picking. The weather was clear, the skies blue, the leaves turning. It was gorgeous. The simple joy of plucking those honeys, shining them up against our chest, that first deep, crisp, tantalizing bite …
The apples were plentiful and we came home with bags and bags of our all time favorite Macouns. We made pies, apple butter, compote. We ate them sliced with raw honey, we ate them sliced with scoops of our favorite peanut butter, we ate them the old fashioned way—in big crunchy bites. But we still had bags left.
So, we decided to experiment. We put a dozen fresh, washed apples in a pan, and stuck them into a steam oven. (Okay, we know not everyone has a steam oven, but we’re a little crazy when it comes to cooking. Actually, a lot crazy.) We set the oven to 100 percent humidity, turned the temp to 350, and, having heard there was a sale at Anthropologie, left our husband in charge of the apples.
The football game was on. We called to remind him to check the apples. Not a hard task. Correct?
We returned mid way through the third quarter and found him wearing a very pretty pink flowered apron, a green scrubby in his hand, cleaning out the oven. He explained that a “premature explosion” of our lovingly picked apples had occurred. (Of course we know he forgot to look at them.)
Fourteen people were coming for dinner and the question remained: was anything salvageable? We took the remains of the collapsed skins, the bits and pieces of apple left in the pan, and ran it all through our food mill. The result? A delicious warm brown caramelized applesauce.
Our newest invention? Baked applesauce.
Here’s how to do it in your regular oven:
Wash your apples. That’s all. No peeling. No coring. No nothing. (We “budget” everything-especially our time and always look for the easy way out.) Then take a knife. Find the inner bitch/homicidal maniac hiding deep inside you (trust us, this is better than therapy). Then stab the skin like crazy (you’re saving yourself the trouble of cleaning—ahem—“prematurely” exploded apple from the inside of your oven).
Bake them at 350 until they get all mushy and the skin turns a warm deep golden brown.
Next, run them through the fine sieve of a food mill (this will screen, core, seeds and skin). Add maple syrup to taste and, if you like, cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve warm. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for dessert, or use as a side dish for pork, chicken, or turkey.