Baked Apples with Ginger

Lively flavored baked apples with the zing of candied ginger in the filling. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. The perfect (easy) fall and winter dessert!

Baked apples with ginger recipe

One dessert I don’t make often enough are baked apples, known in France as Pommes rôti au four, or Pommes au four – oven-roasted apples. We have great apples in France, which I like to buy from the local grower at my market. But Americans also have a long history with lovely apples and when I was growing up, we lived near a cider mill and bought bags of fresh apples, and fresh cider, from their stand by the side of the road

As kids, it was rumored that if you put the fresh cider on the roof, it would eventually turn into something alcoholic, although we never got around to experimenting with that one. However if I had done that, I would have been somewhat of a trailblazer at twelve year’s old because now home fermenting has become all the rage. (Although drinking at that age might not have been such a great idea in terms of child development.)

Apples for baked apples with ginger

As a well-adjusted adult, nowadays, I like to play around with fruits. I wrote this recipe up well over a decade ago and revisited it while in the U.S. around Thanksgiving, with apples available at local grocery stores and outdoor markets. I tested a few varieties of apples (two with explosive results) to see what kinds would work best. In the U.S., like in France, there are often plenty of good apples to choose from, especially if you live near farmland.

However not everyone lives near an apple orchard, so when writing a recipe, I like to do what I call “the supermarket test” and use apples from the grocery store. I like to test recipes with everyday items – butter, flour, etc – from supermarkets, because that’s what’s available to the majority of people. But in the case of apples, I do think if you live near a farmers’ market, the different in flavor between an heirloom apple and a supermarket apple is miles apart.

Pecans for baked apples

In San Francisco, I knew some apple farmers and remember tastings familiar varieties like Red Delicious, that gets a bad rap, and Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, which were so good when purchased from a farmer, rather than in the supermarket, I felt like I was discovering entirely new apples when I tasted them.

Most Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples are picked underripe and very green, so they are super tart. (Which I always find interesting because Americans are known for our love of sweet things.) But the homegrown Red Delicious were a revelation, so don’t turn your noses up at varieties that you think you know if you’re at a greenmarket. Happily, in the U.S., they often give samples so you can try them out.

Baked apples with ginger recipe

Because apples are fruit, and fruit varies, some may split or explode a bit when you bake them, so no need to stress if a few do. I prefer to use fruit that isn’t uniform or perfect. Usually those fruits are the ones that taste the best, too, because they are bred for flavor, rather than appearance.

In my recipe that I revisited, I played around with the amount of sugar and wondered why, when I wrote up the recipe, I had added egg yolks to the filling. So I did a side-by-side comparison, and the adage “Your first instincts are usually the best” rang true; the yolks gave the filling a bit of a candy-like texture, melding together all the ingredients in the filling, so they don’t fall apart when you dig your spoon into the apple.

Baked apples with ginger recipe

My original recipe also used chopped pitted dates, whose sticky sweetness is a nice contrast to the zip of fresh and candied ginger. But way-back-when, when I originally wrote the recipe, we didn’t have access to dried cranberries like we have now, so I used those this time around, which took them in the direction of a holiday-friendly dessert. However like all my experiments, we enjoyed (lots of) baked apples for a couple of days, and found them to be a great breakfast in the morning, served with just a pour of heavy cream.

Baked Apples with Ginger
Print Recipe
6 servings
I like to hand chop the fresh ginger, rather than use a grater, since the little pieces add a bit of spicy bite to the filling. You can omit the flour to make them gluten free or substitute potato or corn starch.I did a bunch of tests using various amount of sugar, as people often ask me about reducing it in recipes. I did prefer them with the higher amount of brown sugar which, combined with the egg yolk, creates a bit of a crunchy "cake" inside the apple. If you want to go with the smaller amount, you can, or you can find a happy medium between the 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup. You can swap out another diced dried fruit for the cranberries or dates.Use a good baking apple, one that won't fall apart when baking. Some options include Sierra Beauty, Rome, Golden Delicious, Winesap, and Granny Smith. If you live near a greenmarket or farmers' market, ask the apple vendor which of their apples are best for baking.
1/4 to 1/2 cup (45 -90g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (65g) toasted pecans or walnuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped, or diced dates
1/4 cup (35g) diced candied ginger
2 tablespoons melted butter, salted or unsalted, plus additional butter for preparing the baking dish and brushing the apples
2 teaspoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 inch (3cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
grated zest half lemon
pinch of salt
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup (180ml) white wine, apple juice or cider, or water
6 medium-sized apples
1. Butter a medium-sized baking dish, one that will fit the apples in a single layer. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the brown sugar, nuts, dried cranberries or dates, candied ginger, 2 tablespoons melted butter, flour, cinnamon, fresh ginger, lemon zest and salt. Mix in the egg yolks.
3. Remove the core from six apples with a melon baller and dig out enough of the insides so all the seeds and any firm bits are removed. Use a paring knife to cut a 1/2-inch (1,25cm) ring around the top of the apples.
4. Stuff the filling into the apples, place them in a baking dish, and brush the tops of the apples and the filling with melted butter. Add the wine, apple juice, or water to the pan.
5. Bake until the tops of the apples are browned and the apples are cooked through, about 45 minutes. If the liquid in the pan begins to get too low - some apples exude juice, others don't - feel free to add more liquid to the baking dish before it becomes dry. (Adding liquid to the dish if it's dry, and made of ceramic or another material, can cause it to crack. So be careful.)If the filling gets too dark before the apples are cooked through (a paring knife should pierce them easily when done), drape a sheet of foil over the apples and finish baking.

Serving: Serve the apples warm or at room temperature with any pan juices spooned over them, along with cold heavy cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream or cinnamon ice cream. The apples can be baked in advance and rewarmed in a low oven, covered with foil. They are best served the same day. (Although cold, they're not bad for breakfast the next day.)

Related Posts and Recipes

How to Make Candied Ginger

Spontaneous Hard Apple Cider (Delicious Obsessions)

German Apple Almond Cake

Dorie’s French Apple Cake

The Best Apples for Baking (The Kitchn)

Best Apples for Baking (Farmer’s Almanac)

 


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39 comments

  • November 18, 2016 4:55pm

    As a farmer who grows apples and pears I appreciated your comment about Red Delicious apples…we have a variety of Heirlooms including a Delicious which we have renamed John’s Delicious (after a friend who loved them) because the name Red Delicious…well, you know, mealy, flavorless, everything an apple shouldn’t be. Ours are, indeed, delicious. Thanks for encouraging your readers to seek out the Good Stuff (and support your local farmers)!

    • November 18, 2016 9:09pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, if possible, it’s really best to get your apples from a farm. So many apples nowadays are grown for looks, rather than flavor, including the much-maligned Red Delicious apple. I did a bit of searching about them to respond to another commenter and was surprised that they’re a variety that dates back to the late 1800’s.

  • November 18, 2016 5:13pm

    I have baked apples, but never like this, with a core filled with a cake mixture. I just take out the core, put in some butter and a sprinkle of sugar. Very basic. You have taken something good and made it awesome.

  • Sara aka Sally
    November 18, 2016 5:21pm

    Oh David, poor you, you did have a deprived childhood! For if you had grown up in Kent, Hereford or Somerset (all English Apple growing counties), you would certainly have encountered Scrumpy!
    Home brewed and quite lethal, if made properly!
    I am happy to say I still have friends who grow wonderful Apple’s in Kent..
    Best wishes.
    Sara aka Sally

  • November 18, 2016 5:22pm

    Nice one David. I just bought some Colorado Granny Smith apples at the last of our farmers’ market. Last season I was stuffing them with prunes, walnuts, butter and ginger. I hadn’t considered adding egg yolk. Can’t wait to try this!

    • November 18, 2016 9:07pm
      David Lebovitz

      It was funny because when I revisited the recipe, I thought, “Why do I have egg yolks in there?” I checked other recipes out there and didn’t see any with yolks in them, so I did a side-by-side comparison and found we liked the egg yolk ones a lot more. Give ’em a try!

  • Lynn Ray
    November 18, 2016 5:35pm

    Thank You for this lovely recipe just in time for Thanksgiving!

  • November 18, 2016 5:35pm

    I usually add some crumbled spéculos to my pommes au four. Going to try with the additional egg yolks.

  • wildbill
    November 18, 2016 5:56pm

    Wonderful memories! My brother and I (twins) would spike our gallon jug of cider with raisins, hide the jug in a closet and wait for the fermented result. Can’t remember what happened after that! We were about ten the first time.

    • BananaBirkLarsen
      November 21, 2016 7:42am

      I work at a store where they sometimes give us expired gallons and half gallons of local apple cider. When the juice starts growing slimy bits, I pour it into a jug and stash it in a closet. I’ve never caught it at the hard cider phase, but it turns into the most wonderful vinegar in about 6 months!

  • November 18, 2016 6:05pm

    Nothing like a lovely spiced baked apple for the Fall harvest!

  • November 18, 2016 6:24pm

    I quite like Granny Smiths to be sharp, and I think they are naturally that way. I grew up with them as the main apple available in the stores and always preferred them to red apples. Now I have a tree I find them crisp, sharp and juicy. Golden Delicious fresh from my trees have been a revelation — as if they are a completely different variety to the supermarket version. And they are so pretty with their creamy yellow skin and pink blush when ripe. Crisp, sweet and juicy. Where I part company with you is on the subject of Red Delicious. I have a tree and frankly, fresh from the tree they are still mealy, flavourless and bitter skinned. Maybe not as bad as a supermarket one, but definitely my least favourite.

    • November 18, 2016 9:06pm
      David Lebovitz

      I like sharp apples too. Most Granny Smiths are picked early. When I live in California, my produce supplier (Monterey Market in Berkeley) had Red Granny Smiths and when I asked what they were, they said they were Granny Smiths that had just been allowed to ripen longer on the tree. (I tried to find them online and didn’t find much info on them, though.)

      The Red Delicious apples I had were from The Apple Farm in Philo. I don’t know much about farming so they might just be a particular cultivar. It’s a variety that dates back to the late 1800’s and the ones that I had in Northern California were a revelation, although the ones in Europe may be from different stock. (According to Wikipedia there are at least 42 “sports” – which was a term new to me! – of Red Delicious apples in the U.S.)

      • P Adams
        November 19, 2016 12:52am

        I grew up in Wenatchee, WA which claimed the title of “Apple Capital of the World”. Red and Golden Delicious apples were the norm then and I still find myself defending Red Delicious as David does with discernment. Even then I found individual apples varied in taste and I could find ones I especially liked by looking at their skin.

        I still love apples tremendously and enjoy scouting out the many varieties that are more readily available now. Ambrosia, Envy and Sweet Tango are fabulous eaten fresh. For all this love I rarely bake apples so I appreciate the reminder, David.

        • June2
          November 19, 2016 4:27am

          Have you seen the apple segment of The Botany of Desire documentary? Really fascinating!

      • November 19, 2016 3:11pm

        My Grannys get a blush from hot sun but they would never go full on red. And I have a background in botany, so I am familiar with sports. Roses produce a lot of sports and apples are in the same family so they may be prone to it as well.

  • marketmaster
    November 18, 2016 6:38pm

    Wonderful recipe. Can’t wait to try it. I sometimes wrap my baked apples in puff pastry to hold in all the juicy goodness.

    We used to go to an apple orchard near Whittier, CA every fall and always got wonderful Red Delicious apples. What a disappointment supermarket fruit is these days. Hooray for farmers’ markets, but alas in Illinois most are closed for the season.

    • June2
      November 19, 2016 4:30am

      As a college kid, I worked in a tiny French style bistro (in Washington, DC) where the kitchen made spectacular puff-wrapped baked apples with melted chocolate in the core and some kind of caramel glaze over the the puff. They were divine and a huge brunch favorite.

  • Jelly Bean
    November 18, 2016 8:55pm

    Pink Ladies/Cripps Pink for me! I stuff them with almond paste.

  • November 18, 2016 9:58pm

    I always do a double-take when Americans talk about cider not being alcoholic because here in the UK – and, I think, in France, too – cider *is* alcoholic. Some of it very alcoholic….

    I haven’t made baked apples for years. When I do, I always use cooking apples, which go lovely and fluffy when cooked. Stuff with raisins (or, indeed, dried cranberries), brown sugar and butter and (a trick I learnt from my mother) stand on a 1/4 slice of bread, which soaks up the juices and goes beautifully caramelly.

    And if you are in a hurry, you can always cook them in the microwave. Like baked potatoes, not *quite* the same but a good second-best.

    • Alessandra
      November 20, 2016 10:42pm

      That is a good idea, to put bread under the apple. I reckon brioche would be even better!

  • Susan B
    November 19, 2016 1:07am

    Question: When you core the apples, do you go all the way through the bottom of the apple, or do you leave a bit there to stop the filling from coming out? Or is that not an issue?

  • Andrea
    November 19, 2016 6:10am

    I adore baked apples (practically tarte tatin with many fewer calories) and I make them all fall and winter. I use Rome apples and usually stuff them with dried Blenheim apricots, golden raisins, brown sugar, roasted almonds and amaretto or Grand Marnier.

    David– I had the most spectacular apple in Paris at the beautiful Foundation Louis Vuitton Museum restaurant Le Frank. The menu listed it as ‘Pomme reinette confit lentement au cidre et pruneaux”. The English translation was “Slowly cooked russet apple with cider and prune”. The apple looked perfect, like it had not even been cooked. I’ve searched for a recipe but nothing is as good. I wrote to them to get their recipe but didn’t get a response. Do you know how to make it?
    Since you’re in Paris you might want to try it.
    Meantime, I’m looking forward to trying your recipe.
    Thanks,
    Andrea in Berkeley

  • Leah
    November 19, 2016 6:48am

    I want to make this for my kids for breakfast, but we have an egg allergy in the family… when you tried the recipe without the yolk, were there any other changes you made?

  • November 19, 2016 2:00pm
    David Lebovitz

    leah: I tried almond flour in place of the regular flour for the non-yolk ones, but don’t think it makes a difference so you can just omit the yolks (and if you want, omit the flour as well, or not!)

    Andrea: I don’t know the restaurant or the recipe but Dorie Greenspan has a recipe in her book, Around My French Table, for very long cooked apples (but sliced) but don’t know how close it is to the recipe you’re looking for.

    Susan: I don’t cut all the way through, although if the apples are overly rounded on the bottoms, sometimes I’ll lop off a bit so they stand up in the baking dish.

    • Leah
      November 21, 2016 9:26pm

      Thank you!

    • Andrea in Berkeley
      December 2, 2016 11:50am

      Hi David —
      These ginger baked apples were delicious.

      Re: the ‘Pomme reinette confit lentement au cidre et pruneaux” that I asked about above — this must be
      “sous vide”. The apple looked perfect even though it was cooked. Have you cooked sous vide? Can you comment on that technique and recommend any recipes?
      Many thanks,
      Andrea in Berkeley
      (ps – I also love the Mizpe HaYamim breakfasts)

  • David
    November 19, 2016 4:47pm

    I have made baked apples for decades, with various fillings from shop “mincemeat” – dried fruit and suet – to my own dried fruit mixtures (with/out booze soaked) and spices, but never thought about making a “cake” of it by using flour and egg. For the end of year, could try using an approximation to Christmas pudding mix. I have an orchard: Mutsu = Crispin and Adam’s Pearmain, but also Discovery (over ages ago) + an other, so have plenty of scope to experiment.

    Bramley apples – naturally tart and often referred to as cookers – tend to dissolve into delicious mush, (as will some other varieties). Others will retain their firmness better.

    I have served the apples as cooked, but also with cream, warm custard/creme anglaise…

    A plant “sport” is where a branch of a plant has, for some genetic reason, grown with different characteristics to the rest of the plant. I’ve seen sports in fuschia bushes, where on one branch the flowers were a different colour. Gardeners etc take a cutting from that branch, root it and viola, a new plant with the new characteristics.

    Sports are not always stable, some revert back to the parent, Also, damage due to chemical sprays etc don’t usually make sports.

    Most apple trees – other than those at the roadside that have grown from a seed from a discarded core are grafted, so have a rootstock of one type and the top of the desired variety, Sometimes the rootstock will generate some top growth – so that will be different, but not a sport. Rootstocks are used for growth control, disease control, and generally won’t have good fruit themselves (and may not even be an apple, but a near relative, I think quince is often used).

    BTW, apples don’t come true from seed, so that roadside tree may have awful tasting fruit or be a wonderful new discovery. Another reason why most trees are grafted.

    Annabel, the Normans would be very upset – they claim to have invented the drink cidre, and its spirit cousin calvados (not produced much here in the UK). French cidre is rather different from the English real ciders, just due to the different varieties of apple used (and some technique, I imagine),

    • Ted K
      November 21, 2016 9:56pm

      Heston Blumenthal sells an xmas pudding with a hidden orange inside in England. Interesting idea to invert it, a baked apple with a hidden xmas pudding inside…

  • E E Faris
    November 19, 2016 5:06pm

    David, I just made these apples for breakfast and they were great. I think I’ll put them on the Christmas breakfast menu, along with sausage, eggs and maybe the Irish brown bread recipe you have. I loved the fresh chopped ginger.

  • Vickie P
    November 19, 2016 6:11pm

    David,

    Under related posts and recipes you list Dorie’s French Almond Cake – I think that’s supposed to be Apple Cake (excellent – I’ve made it several times).

    I’m lucky enough to have apple trees in my back yard. Actually, luck had nothing to do with it; I planted them. If anyone has room at their home, I recommend “Goldrush”.

    Thanks for all the hard work you put into this blog. One of the best.

    Thanks..and oops! I fixed the name : ) – dl

  • John
    November 20, 2016 1:59pm

    I bake apples on a muffin tin, so that the apples stay upright.

  • November 20, 2016 5:06pm

    I am making this today! Having friends over for lunch. The main course is your ginger soy chicken. I’m adding rice as a side as well as a good slow cooker brussels sprouts recipe.

  • November 20, 2016 8:24pm

    This awakes long-slumbering memories of my childhood. We had baked apples so often that it was a staple…. We stuffed them with ground almonds, raisins, a ‘purée’ of whatever was at hand (egg, milk, cream, yoghurt) – chopped nuts, whatever – always delicious. We had a corer (I still use mine regularly) that went right through the apple and whatever ripped out at the bottom added to the glorious taste after the baking. We added cinnamon, lemon juice, again ‘whatever’. When things went really well, we had them in a ‘robe’ of puff pastry, guilded with an egg-yolk…. Or/And a vanilla cream (crème anglaise)….. And goodness me, I just bought well over 4kg apples in a special ‘action’ at my local superstore (sorry, I also love going to the market, but here I was with the car….) and I laid my hands on sorts one rarely finds nowadays (Boscop, Canada Reinette, and many more). Bliss, bliss, bliss – THANK YOU

    Is there really nothing to be done about getting the comments sent to one of the relevant sites as you used to have? Worldpress, etc.???? It’s sad for many of us.

  • November 22, 2016 4:32am

    Being vegetarian, I feel more pressure every year around Thanksgiving time to make something innovative yet delicious, and this looks perfect!

    Thank you for the exact measurements & timings (I need them when I cook because I am OCD with this stuff)!

    Quick question though: This is a common issue I have with recipes, but how can I substitute egg yolks? I have friends who don’t eat eggs.

    Any suggestions would help, & thank you again!!

    • November 22, 2016 1:59pm
      David Lebovitz

      You can simply leave the yolks out or add 2 tablespoons of apple butter or prune lekvar or baby food. If you make them without the yolks or puree, you can skip the flour.

  • Andrea
    November 25, 2016 2:15pm

    I made a vegan version using no eggs, omitting flour, and substituting coconut oil for butter. It was fantastic!

  • Paige
    November 28, 2016 2:48am

    I made these today for a neighborhood potluck. Followed instructions exactly and they were perfection. Everyone said they were the best baked apples they’ve had.
    Thank you!

  • Cordelia
    December 6, 2016 8:28am

    I made these tonight. They are excellent.

    It’s a shame my teenage children never had baked apples until now, but I’m glad these were their introduction. You took an old-school dessert and elevated it into something special. Thank you.

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