There are thousands of different varieties of apple - green ones and red ones, sweet ones and tart ones, big ones and small ones, crisp ones and juicy ones. The unique characteristics of each one makes it suitable for different things, with some apples better for snacking, while others are perfect for juicing or cider-making. And when it comes to cooking and baking, there’s no doubt that some varieties are simply the best at making pies, crumbles and other baked treats.
When choosing apples to use in baking, look for varieties with firm flesh that will hold together in the oven rather than reducing down to mush. For greater depth of flavour, choose varieties with a balance of sweetness and tartness. You can also combine different varieties for the perfect multilayered flavour.
Some varieties of apple show up time after time in apple-based recipes, thanks to their superior baking qualities. Pick one of these apples for your next baking project, and you won’t go far wrong.
One of the best-known varieties of apple, the Granny Smith owes its popularity to its distinctively crisp, tart flavour, which is perfect for both snacking and baking. This shiny green apple can be found in most stores, and it’s firm flesh means that it holds together well in the oven, too. Pair with a sweet variety like Honeycrisp for a delicious blend of sweet and tart.
A hybrid of the Jonathan and the Golden Delicious, the Jonagold has a wonderful balance of tart and sweet, with distinctive notes of honey. It also holds together very well in the oven and is great for baking, particularly in simple dishes where it’s unique flavour is able to stand alone. Unfortunately, Jonagolds don’t store particularly well, so make the most of them when they’re in season.
Also popular as an eating apple, the Honeycrisp has a particularly sweet flavour, balanced by just the right amount of tartness. It also has a firm, crisp texture that holds its structure in the hottest of ovens while still releasing plenty of delicious juices. If you’re thinking of mixing and matching, the Honeycrisp goes well with most other varieties of apple, but it’s only in season for a few months, so get some while you can.
This crisp, red apple is great for eating or baking. It’s firm texture holds together well in the oven, and its intense sweet-tart flavour tastes great in baked goods. Because of its own strong taste, the Braeburn can stand up to other bold flavours, and it tastes great in spiced apple dishes with plenty of cinnamon or cloves.
The Pink Lady is a cross between the Golden Delicious and Lady William varieties. It has a vivid, reddish-pink skin, with crisp white flesh and a particularly sweet flavour, with some tartness and a hint of tannins. It holds together very well in the oven, and is perfect if you like your apple pies on the sweeter side.
This popular Japanese variety is available in most stores all year round. It has a yellow-green flesh with hints of red, and crisp aromatic flesh. It’s balanced, sweet and sour flavour makes it the perfect choice for baking, and it holds together extremely well in the oven.
A richly-flavoured variety, with complex, cider-like notes, the Winesap adds a concentrated apple flavour to all your favourite baked goods. It stands up nicely to other bold flavours, but can threaten to overpower more subtle notes. Thanks to it’s thicker skin, the Winesap stores well, and its firm flesh means that it doesn’t cook down during baking.
A cross between the tart McIntosh and the slightly sweeter Jonathan, the Jonamac retains much of the tart, aromatic flavour of the McIntosh, now tempered by the sweet, honeyed flavour of the Jonathan. Its deliciously well-balanced flavour makes it a tempting choice for baked goods, but unfortunately its tender flesh means that it won’t stand up to any serious cooking. If you do want to use Jonamacs in your baking, team them with a firmer variety to add more structure.
This crisp, yellow apple was developed in New Zealand, and has an extra-sweet, aromatic flavour. Its firm texture means it won’t cook down in the oven, but it may be too sweet for some tastes. If you do use Galas in your baking, try reducing the amount of sugar you add to the dish.
Mutsu / Crispin
A cross between the Golden Delicious and Indo varieties, this apple has a similarly mild, sweet flavour to a Golden Delicious, but with a firm, crisp texture that makes it perfect for cooking and baking.
Recipes with cooked and baked apples
Once you’ve found your perfect apple, try it out in one of these mouthwatering recipes.
Apple crumble: renowned chef Egidio Iadonisi gives this much-loved favourite the gourmet treatment, complete with a scoop of homemade calvados ice cream.
Gluten free apple cookies: these sweet, oaty cookies are the perfect treat to enjoy with your mid morning cup of coffee, and because they’re gluten free, you can share them with your coeliac friends.
Apple scones: a classic tea time treat with a hidden fruity surprise, these apple scones are sure to be a hit with all the family.
Apple sponge pudding: a real taste of home, this classic sponge pudding is full of comforting flavours, with juicy apples, almonds and cinnamon.
English apple pie: a classic English-style apple pie, with golden pastry and juicy apple filling.
Dutch apple pie: another classic apple pie, this time from the Netherlands, with a pastry lattice topping.
Double apple crumble cake: if you can’t decide between apple cake and apple crumble, now you can have both with this delicious recipe from food writer Claire Saffitz.
Geranium's Rasmus Kofoed has decided to stop serving meat at the restaurant currently ranked number two on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list. But the Danish chef isn't yet willing to go purely plant-based.