Recipe: Baked apples with oatmeal, brown sugar, and raisins

Ingredients and prep work (thanks to Philip and Amanda for doing the actual hard stuff, i.e. coring apples and chopping raisins).
Ingredients and prep work (thanks to Philip and Amanda for doing the actual hard stuff, i.e. coring apples and chopping raisins).

I wasn’t expecting to make a dessert at any point in the near future, but it turns out that one of my new housemates had a birthday yesterday and neglected to mention it to anyone. I felt compelled to bake her something to make the occasion a little bit special. She’s vegan and can’t eat wheat, so many of the traditional birthday options were off the table. Fortunately, I happen to have a significant number of apples, a lot of oats, some raisins…and the recollection that A Feast of Ice and Fire had not one, but two baked apple recipes that sounded like fun.

Leftover filling (because our apples were quite small).
Leftover filling (because our apples were quite small).

Unfortunately, I left all my cookbooks at home, and those recipes are not posted on their website, but I found something pretty equivalent on The Kitchn. It’s simple, but takes a while to bake, so I opted to leave making the week’s dinner/leftovers for tomorrow and just get a salad at Hall to save time. Two of my housemates helped out a lot with the preparation, and with keeping the birthday girl entertained while we waited for them to bake!

Ready for the oven! (Except for a foil covering.)
Ready for the oven! (Except for a foil covering.)

The final results didn’t get eaten until breakfast this morning, thanks to the first social event of Fresher’s Week happening at the MCR. However, they were pretty darn tasty re-heated in the oven (covered with foil and with a bit of water in the bottom), and I bet they would be even better fresh.

A few notes:

  • If you have dark brown sugar, use it rather than demerara sugar. The difference is that demerara is a type of “raw” sugar that has been crystallized from partially-evaporated cane juice, and still contains a bit of molasses (which is what gives it a light golden brown color), whereas brown sugar is essentially white sugar that has been re-processed to add molasses back in. It has smaller crystals and a richer molasses flavor, which is why I recommend it; the smaller crystals dissolve more easily and make the interior more moist, and more molasses flavor is rarely a bad thing :).
  • Other options for filling add-ins: crystallized ginger, dried coconut, almonds, walnuts, pecans…you could even try mixing in a little almond butter or nutella. Just make sure everything is finely chopped, or you might end up with dry spots in your apple cavities.
The finished product!
The finished product!

Baked apples with oatmeal, brown sugar, and raisins

Slightly adapted from The Kitchn.

Makes 4 one-apple servings, easily scaled up for more people.

4 crisp apples
3 Tbsp brown or demerara sugar
1/4 c oats
2 Tbsp raisins or currants, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (I didn’t have any, so I upped the cinnamon a bit)
1 Tbsp butter (if not vegan) or margarine (if vegan), divided in four
1 c hot water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with a rack in the lower-middle position.

Remove the core of the apples, cutting to within a half inch of the bottom of the apple and creating a well roughly 3/4-inch wide. This is easy to do with an apple corer, but can also be done with a melon baller, grapefruit spoon, or a paring knife. (Being poor graduate students, we used a knife.)

Mix the brown sugar, oatmeal, raisins, and spices in a bowl. Divide this mixture between the apples, packing the wells firmly.

Arrange the apples in a baking dish (like an 8×8 Pyrex dish), and top each one with a pat of butter/margarine. Pour the water into the bottom of the dish and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil. Continue baking uncovered until the apples are soft and the sugar has melted into a syrup, an additional 20 to 30 minutes. You can test the apples by poking a paring knife through the oatmeal mixture and into the interior of the apple; it should slide into the apple easily with no resistance. The skin on the apples will also become wrinkled and soft by the end of cooking. They should also smell great!

Serving suggestion: with ice cream, creme fraiche, or whipped cream if not vegan; with coconut whipped cream if vegan.

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