Do you think this looks like "the death star exploded" (Justin) or something "otherworldly and beautiful" (me)? You're entitled to your own opinion, but in this case, looks don't matter: taste does. And these baked apples taste like the best apple donuts you'll ever eat, with none of the regret from eating something fried.
From a photographer's perspective, I love the way the apples' skins shrink away from their interiors and how the filling of each apple takes over the baking dish. The golden raisins tasted sweeter than honey and the apple's flesh turned fork-tender--so soft you barely need a utensil.
Sarah Raven proclaims that these baked apples are a "British classic that should be eaten at least once during the apple season." To Sarah I ask: why only once? I love that I can get all of the pleasures of a sinfully decadent dessert with very few of the repercussions.
Raven recommends Bramley apples as a superior baking apple. New York apple growers don't grow Bramleys, at least from what I could find, but you can use any cooking apple, such as a Baldwin, Paula Red, or McIntosh. If you're unsure, just ask your farmer. I needed a substitute for a Gala apple the other day (for a different recipe) and was quickly steered towards the Empire variety.
Recipe Adapted from The Garden Cookbook
Total Time: 40 minutes
4 medium cooking apples
4.5 tablespoons of butter (plus a little more for the baking dish)
3.5 tablespoons of brown sugar
Zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 of that same lemon
3-4 tablespoons of golden raisins (your choice here)
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2) Core your apples whole. (Good tutorial on this HERE). Then, use a paring knife to draw a shallow cut around each apple, about 1/3rd of the way down. This will stop them from exploding as they expand!
3) Melt your butter in a double boiler (or in the microwave). When it's mostly melted, but not completely, mix in the sugar, golden raisins, lemon zest and lemon juice.
4) Lightly butter a shallow baking dish and place the apples into it.
5) Fill the cavities of the cored apples with the mixture. Be generous with your filling! It's okay if some spills over into the dish.
6) Bake the apples for about 30 minutes, until they've expanded and the mixture is bubbling. Enjoy!