The Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook: Best Baked Apples Ever
I’ve loved baked apples since I was a child and my grandfather made them for me. I always felt that was something special, but only now do I realize how truly notable it was — my grandfather wasn’t actually much of a cook, and in later years subsisted on boiled chicken and sugar cookies. (And I do mean that chicken was boiled.) His baked apples, however — simply made with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon — were divine, and for years, I didn’t think there was any point in trying another baked apple recipe.
I am here now to admit that I was wrong. I loved my grandfather dearly and still miss him very much, but dang it, somebody’s come along and made a better baked apple.
The recipe is in The Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook, by Renewing the Countryside (my thanks to Quayside Publishing Group, for providing a review copy.)
Image courtesy of Quayside Publishing Group
Renewing the Countryside is a non-profit which works on behalf of rural revitalization in Minnesota, and this book is a shining example of what they do. Each chapter tells the story of a local grower, plus a local restaurant or B&B that makes delicious use of what that grower produces. The words, “organic,” and “sustainable” are getting a bit threadbare and causing people’s eyes to glaze over, so instead I’m going to say that the producers featured in this book are the best of the best, people who cherish what they do and treat each animal, vegetable, cheese and fruit with loving care. Who wouldn’t want to eat food like that?
It’s a lovely book, with many recipes worth trying: Roasted Pumpkin Hand Pies from the Birchwood Cafe, Black River Blue Cheese Dressing and Chicken Wings in Barbecue Sauce from the Bryant Lake Bowl, Corn Posole Bison Stew from the Minwanjige Cafe, Featherbed Eggs from Ellery House…the list goes on and on. But it was the recipe for Spirited Baked Apples from the Loghouse and Homestead B&B that kept calling to me.
Spirited. That bore further investigation.
It’s so simple, but so perfect. And I now know what my grandfather didn’t put in his baked apples that really makes a baked apple: bourbon.
I quartered the apples (Honeycrisps) rather than leaving them whole. I like that presentation, plus it’s way easier and quicker than coring. Coring always sounds like a trip to the emergency room to me. Brown sugar, butter, currants, pecans, spices…I added ginger and my signature touch: a wee bit of cayenne. A little bourbon in the baking dish, and into the oven it went.
The recipe suggests serving the apples with heavy cream. I can’t argue with that — and didn’t. They were really delicious.
I’m definitely making this again, and I do hope that if my dear grandfather has access to a heavenly oven, he’ll add a touch of bourbon to his baked apples.
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