When I was a little girl, we always received apples and oranges in our Christmas stockings. At some point I recognized that this was a throwback to my parents’ depression-era childhoods when those items were very hard to come by, especially in Indiana in late December, and therefore a precious gift.

You see, back then having fruit trucked or flown across the country wasn’t as prevalent as it is today, and it would have made those items much more expensive. We were also not so far removed from being a predominantly agrarian society that ate locally and seasonally. Big fresh apples would be scarce in late December and oranges don’t grow here at all!

I think it’s wonderful that so many of us are getting back to those local and seasonal habits by shopping at farmers markets and eating what is locally available in season. My sons don’t think an apple in their stocking is any big deal, but it sure brings back memories for me! And the finest thing I know to do with fresh apples in the winter is to stuff and bake them!

Old-Fashioned Baked Apples

Ingredients:

  • 6 large baking apples
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350° F (180° C/Gas 4).
  2. Wash and core apples, then remove a 1 inch strip of peel around the middle of each apple. Arrange the apples in a 2-quart shallow baking dish.
  3. Combine brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl; fill the center of each apple and dot with 1/2 teaspoon of the butter.
  4. Add just enough water to baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish; bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until apples are tender.
  5. Baste with juices occasionally.

Serve the apples warm with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. Serves 6.

So simple, and so delicious! With the basic recipe mastered, you may want to try the following variations on this yummy theme. A baked apple a day keeps the doctor away — and everybody happy!

Mini Baked Apple Pies

Baked Apple Crisps

Baked Apple Cheesecakes

Baked Apple with Brie and Honey

Breakfast Baked Apples

Baked Apples with Bacon & Cheddar