A is for Apples
And it's been like that as long as I can think of. That is what I was taught in school so I will stick to that today too :)
And with this, 20 days after I promised I am starting the A-Z blogging on Baking. 26 recipes, tips and more from A - Z.
Apples, apart from keeping the doctor away apples are great for many more things and used extensively in baking. Who hasn't eaten a good apple pie in his life. One thinks of pie and apple on its own gets added to the thought. Be it crisps, bars, cakes, muffins apples are very widely used in baking. Have you ever wondered why?
What makes apple so perfect for baking is its sweet-tart balance and the firmness which holds the fruit together even after a slow and long bake. Also applesauce which is essentially nothing but pureed apple has decent amount of fructose and fat and is a great substitute if used well for both butter and sugar in a baking recipe. Applesauce cakes are so popular because they are super moist and flavourful.
To be honest, I am not an apple fan. Don't like the fruit as it is, yes sometimes I like to bite into a chilled and crisp apple but those days are rare. Usually I am the one running away from it at home and picking up any other fruit to eat but when baked the fruit changes it for me. I love apples in baking. I adore them and anything baked which has apples in it stands high up in my favorite list. But when I started baking some years ago, I used to be very confused on what apples to buy for baking. I mean go to a shop and generally it will have at least 10 varieties of apples. Sometimes even more. Every variety of apple has a flavor, texture and juiciness that is unique to them. Sometimes it amazes me when I think just how many variants we can have of the same thing.
They say that granny smith apples are the best for cooking and baking but ever looked at their prices in India? Also the issue is availability, you get them sometimes and don't get them the other. So here are the top things I feel make a good baking/cooking apple.
1\. Freshness, I mean yes we all know that apples don't get bad fast but the fresher the apple the more flavorful it is (surprise surprise :) ) Last year I picked an apple right from the tree in Shimla and had and I think it was the best apple I had ever had in my life. Now I might not say the same when I eat the apple in bangalore at least a week later.
2\. Size, though otherwise it won't matter but if you pick similar sized apples for baking you will end up with similar sized slices which will make the pie look breathtakingly gorgeous when you line them.
3\. Firmness, though for eating too I like a firm apple better than the soft one (my sisters and me used to call the soft apple, apple for old people while growing up) but in baking it is critical to have an apple which is firm else it won't stand the baking well.
4\. Sweet-Tart balance, it needs to have a touch of tartness of it and I think that's one of the reason Granny Smith is so popular in baking. It has a beautiful balance of the same.
Surprisingly I have found out that using a mix of Granny Smith and our local kashmiri apples is what I like the best.
And now to the recipe of the day, considering it was Easter yesterday and I love Hot Cross Buns. I thought I will share the recipe of "Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns" today.
Recipe - Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns.
Adapted from - Baking Mad
For the cross in the hot cross buns
For the glaze
- Mix flour, sugar, yeast, salt and spices in a mixing bowl. Keep aside (I use instant yeast, if using dry or fresh please proof the yeast)
- Melt butter and let it cool a bit, add water and milk. Bring it to a lukewarm stage and add to the above mixture. Mix to combine
- Add the apples, raisins and the citrus zest and knead well for about 10 minutes
- Let it rise till it double for about 45 minutes to an hour
- Knock back and shape the dough into buns
- Let the buns rise again and when they have doubled, mix the water and flour for the criss cross and draw the cross on the buns using a piping bag
- Bake at 220C for about 15 mins, take them out and brush with the sugar and water glaze and bake again for 5 minutes
Serve hot with tea or coffee and don't forget to come back tomorrow for seeing what is B for apart from Baking :)
My top picks for Apple Recipes
4. Apple Pumpkin Soup (the child actually eats this with rice as curry)
5. Quinoa Salad with Apple and Almonds (I use foxtail millet instead of Quinoa here and its a hit)
6. Ginger and Green Apple Chutney (tastes awesome with dosa or parantha)
Interesting read - Surprisingly good ways to use apples