You guys. This is my new favorite thing! After a week of huge meals, buttery sides and more sugar and bread than I ate in the month of October, I was so happy to discover this method for baking applesauce. I always find myself craving simple, “clean” food after holidays, vacations, etc. Though I don’t have a food mill right now, I wanted applesauce; I decided to try making something in the oven, using basic techniques for sauce blended with those for apple crisp, minus all the extras. I am confident that I am not the first person to bake applesauce, and this can hardly be called a recipe, but is definitely a handy trick to know. There are TWO ingredients, three if you’re feeling feisty, and very little hands-on time needed. The resulting applesauce is wonderful: sweet, a little textured and with the most delicious scent. It’s easy to think you’re eating a(nother) slice of apple pie. Speaking of which, you’ll want to use an apple well-suited for baking, something with flavor that won’t disintegrate; this article from Allrecipes.com has some useful information for choosing your fruit. (I had a handful of giant Honeycrisps and filled my baking dish with a few Pink Lady apples.) My husband and I devoured the applesauce plain and with leftover ham, and I finished up the last of it on oatmeal. I will be making another pan shortly– it’s just too good not to have on hand!
- 6 – 10 apples (the number of apples will be determined by their size)
- cinnamon (optional)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Find a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, or a casserole of similar size. Don’t grease it or do anything special. Wash your apples and core them; peeling is not necessary and not recommended. The color of the peels will make your final product prettier, and the apples cook long enough so the peel is softened. Cut your apples into chunks; mine were about 2″ cubes and as long as you stay consistent with size, you can go larger or smaller. Pile the apples in your dish as you go. When the baking dish is full (mounded is okay as long as you keep in mind that you’ll need to be able to stir during cooking), add enough water to cover the bottom of your pan by 1/2″. If you like soupier applesauce, you may want to think more like 3/4″.
Bake the apples for 20 mins. and then carefully remove the dish and stir the apples; your goal is to get the chunks that have been above the water underneath and vice versa. Return the dish to the oven for another 20 mins. Remove again and use a potato masher to roughly mash the apples, which will still be somewhat hard. Return the dish to the oven for another 20 mins. This is a good time to sprinkle with cinnamon if you want; start with 1/2 tsp. and add more if you want a stronger flavor. After the third 20 min. stretch, remove from the oven carefully and mix and mash again with the potato masher. Depending on your apples, you may be done; if they are still too firm, continue baking/mashing in 10 min. cycles until they reach your desired level of doneness. I like to keep mine slightly chunky, but you can mash as finely as you want. Taste your applesauce and add a pinch of salt and/or more cinnamon if you like, a drizzle of honey or sprinkle of sugar if you insist. Cool slightly before serving. The applesauce will keep, tightly covered, in the fridge for at least a week and can be frozen for up to three months.