The spring guide to cooking apples
Cooking with apples is often associated with cosy nights in autumn. But as the weather warms in spring, we look for foods that are fresh, crisp, fruity and tart. Apples are a firm favourite in the British diet and ideal sweet addition to countless meals, especially when we cook with them. If you're longing for ways to enjoy your old or slightly soft apples, here’s our nifty guide to cooking with apples this spring.
CARAMEL APPLE CHEESECAKE BARS
For a sweet and rich treat to enjoy on fresh days in the garden, caramel apple cheesecake bars fit the bill perfectly. Although many recipes for apple cheesecake will tell you to peel the apples, there's no need, as the skins will simply add extra texture. Try this recipe out instead. Comprising layers of buttery shortbread, cream cheese, spiced apple, crumbly biscuit and topped with caramel, these cheesecake bars are still surprisingly easy to make.
APPLE PEEL CRISPS
If you have found yourself with leftover apple peelings, there's no need to throw them away. You can make your very own fruit crisps incredibly easily, and they'll taste just as sweet as the flesh of the apple. Make your crisps as sweet or savoury as you like, just by decreasing the amount of sugar you add to the cinnamon coating. The result is a moreish spring snack you'll want to repeat every time you find yourself looking at apple scraps.
SPICED APPLE CHELSEA BUNS
Although cinnamon spices are more often associated with winter warming, the flavour combination of spiced apple is just too good to ignore for the rest of the year. These Chelsea buns balance out spiced, grated apple with a light, flaky pastry mix. If you're looking to explore the world of pastry baking and use up some apples too, this is a tasty place to start.
One inventive way to use up your leftover apple cores after cooking another recipe is by flavouring agrodolce from them. Agrodolce is an Italian sweet and sour sauce, and this recipe makes use of a whole 10 apple cores. Simply combine with sugar, a bay leaf, white wine vinegar and water for a new condiment to add to your fridge. Agrodolce is especially amazing when drizzled over a warm potato salad or roasted vegetables.
HOT BAKED FRUITS WITH BUTTERSCOTCH CREAM
A simple and delicious idea, baking fruits is a great way to use up any slightly older fruit you have in your kitchen. Apples take centre stage in this particular recipe, but you can add any other fruits to complement them - just be mindful as they may have different cooking times. The butterscotch cream only asks for two ingredients and adds a finishing touch to an already luxurious dessert.
If you've been left with odds and ends of apples after baking a pie or a cake, why not make them into a fruity and long-lasting jelly? Allrecipes has a recipe that's quick to prep and follows the basic principles of making jelly. The best part is, it uses all parts of the apple, so there's no waste.
A quick note: apple seeds contain amygdalin, a substance that releases hydrogen cyanide when crushed. Whilst it would take around 200 apple seeds to poison an adult human, it’s better to avoid eating the seeds altogether. Pick these out of your apples before preparing any recipe.
SAGE AND APPLE SCONES
You might not think 'savoury' when you think of scones, but they make for a great light afternoon snack. And you can easily balance out less sweet flavours with a little sugary goodness from an apple. The fruit also makes for a perfect culinary pairing with sage. Try this recipe for an easy way to use up a slightly older apple, as it's grated and baked in the oven.
Although they're sometimes associated with Halloween, we think toffee apples should be enjoyed all year round. They're a sneaky treat for kids, as toffee apples will get them eating a whole piece of fruit in one sitting. And of all the ways to use up leftover apples, toffee apples might be the simplest. There's even a technical and a simpler way of cooking them. The sweet outer layer of the apples can be coated in sprinkles or really anything that will stick to the toffee.
GRANOLA BAKED APPLES
As another recipe that leaves the apples mostly whole, these granola baked apples are infused with flavours of orange and butter. They'll also help you use up the granola in your cupboard in a new and more exciting way than simply covering endless bowls of cereal. This comforting dessert doesn't ask for many ingredients and is cheap to make - you might ask yourself why you hadn't thought of cooking it before.
APPLE AND WALNUT RISOTTO
Ever thought of adding apple to your risotto? It's a perfect addition, especially if you combine apples with some of the other popular flavours of a cheeseboard. After you have your basic risotto made, it doesn't take much effort to bring walnuts, apple and strong cheese together with this recipe from Jamie Oliver. And it's perfect for a springtime lunch.