Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Apples in the oven

This dish is called "appels in de oven" in Dutch and "pommes au four" in French. It is a traditional dessert served in belgian homes, especially during autumn when it is the apple season and apples are in abundance. This way of baking apples reminds me of how my mum used to prepare chinese pears filled with 川贝粉 (Bulbus Fritillariae Cirrhosae), we call it  "川贝雪梨". She always prepared that whenever I had a terrible cough as "川贝雪梨" is a very good traditional chinese remedy against cough and phlegm. She would dig a hole in the chinese pear, put some 川贝粉 and 冰糖 (rock sugar) inside, immerse the pear in a thin layer of water and let the pear steam in a slow cooker til soft. 

Now doesn't that sound similar to the way apples in the oven are prepared? Indeed! Just that there is no herbal component in the apples. Let's not compare apples with pears, ovens with slow cookers, cos it actually boils down to the same cooking fundamentals, be it western or asian. 

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. This is really a delicious dessert which is healthy, guilt-free, and very easy to prepare, and I recommend everybody to try it!

(Recipe adapted from "Everybody eats well in Belgium" by Ruth Van Waerebeek)

INGREDIENTS (for 3 apples)
3 firm apples (I used JonaGold apples)
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter
pinch of ground cinnamon or ginger (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Prepare a baking dish big enough to hold the apples and add
about 1 cm of water

2. Using a sharp knife or apple corer, slice off the top of each apple and remove the core without cutting all the way through the bottom. Do not peel the apple skin. Fill each apple with 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon on top of the apple if you wish. 

3. Bake until the apples are soft but still hold their shape, about 30 to 35 min. Serve warm or lukewarm.

You can soak 2 tbsp raisins in 2 tbsp dark rum/cognac and spoon these into the apples along with the butter and sugar filling before baking. Or you can add a handful of chopped unsalted nuts and add to the butter and sugar filling.

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