In my old German recipe book, there’s a Bratapfel recipe. Ingredients – Apples, nuts, raisins, cinnamon, honey (rum). Instructions… carve the core out of the apple, stuff with filling, bake.
No details, no actual amounts. Even the bake time is vague… Bake until soft.
I didn’t think much about the actual recipe until very recently when the weather started to cool. One evening, we enjoyed Bratäpfel (Baked Apples), and I decided it would be a nice recipe to share. But like my old recipe book, I don’t have an exact recipe. hmmm. So I decided that this week’s project was to quantify and specify. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Apples… what kind of apples? Nuts…. what sort of nuts and how many? Raisins…. soak or not? Spices, sweeteners… Bake Topless? Modernize the recipe with unusual spices and fillings? (This was starting to remind me of the Potato Salad project).
The main difference between a German Bratapfel and an American Baked Apple seems to be the sweetener. My German recipe calls for Honey, and not a lot of it (German recipes don’t tend to be overly sweet). The American recipes usually call for brown sugar (not a common ingredient in Germany). Finding that balance that tasted like my memory, but also appealed to the American at the table was tricky.
After cooking 6 different variations, I was asked to stop. (This is the main problem with recipe testing, it gets to the point where you have it coming out your eyes).
Below, you find a BASIC recipe for German Baked Apples. (One that Oma’s everywhere may have served). Try the recipe as it comes, or maybe add a flavor or filling that you remember. Or try something new…For the record, the number one recipe combination in our house used crushed Spekulatius cookies in the filling. (There was a bit more sweetness, and a hint of Christmas).
Serve with Vanillesoße or Vanilla Sauce to add a rich sweetness to counterpoint the tart apple.
Easy Vanilla Sauce Recipe
2 1/4 cups Milk
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Egg YOLKS
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the Milk with the cornstarch. Whisk until smooth, set aside.
Separate the eggs, put the yolks in a bowl. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the rest of the milk, the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Heat over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to boil.
Whisk in the cornstarch/milk mixture. While continuing to whisk, let it all return to a boil. Let it boil for 30 more seconds, then remove the saucepan from the heat.
Use a ladle to scoop approximately 1/3 cup of the hot milk over the egg yolk. Quickly whisk the eggs and milk together…. then pour the egg mixture into the milk still in the saucepan. Keep whisking for another minute so that it gets combined completely.
Set aside and let cool.
(It may form a skin… just pull that off)
Can be served warm or cold.
Experiment with your favorite flavors. Use what’s already in your pantry.
Variations for your Bratäpfel-
for the nuts-
Chopped Almonds or Chopped Hazelnuts
Sliced or slivered Almonds are also excellent
for the raisins-
Don’t like raisins? Use dried Cranberries!
Golden raisins also work.
Chopped dried Apricots
Crumble a Spekulatius Cookies (1 cookie per apple), and add to the filling.
Tuck some Marzipan into the apple before adding the other filling
Add a few chocolate chips to the nut/raisin mix
Melt some Apricot Jam in the microwave, and drizzle over the baked apples.
Spekulatius Cookies with a few Almond Slices are a family favorite
What kind of Apples are best for Bratapfel?
German sites all agree that the Boskop apple is the best. The problem with this is, I can’t find them in my local grocery store or farmer’s market.
Honeycrisp– Flavorful and a little tart. Bake for the full 30 minutes… then test with a knife, it may need longer.
Fuji– Tastes ok. Flavor works, but it’s not remarkable. Bake for 30 minutes
Macintosh– I tried this just to see what would happen. Honestly, the tart flavor was good… but the apple skin basically explodes open and the apple flesh turns to apple sauce at 30 minutes baking time. My testers loved the taste though… so maybe, if you have them in your fruit bowl, try a 20 minute bake time (and keep an eye on things)
Granny Smith– TART, and needs a longer baking time to get soft.
Mackintosh apples EXPLODE!
How to Make this Bratafel Recipe
Slice off the top of the apple… the pre-cut around the core (not all the way through!)
Use a spoon to scoop out the core and seeds. You’ll end up with a nice pocket in your apple
Set them into a buttered baking dish
Mix your filling (This one is Raisins, chopped almonds, honey, rum, and cinnamon)
Divide the filling between the apples, then top with butter
Put the lid on if you like. This will keep the top of your filling from burning.
I live dangerously (and I like my raisins crunchy), so I leave them off.
Bake and serve.
I like to spoon over a bit of the juices from the baking dish… and naturally Vanilla Sauce.