Pommes au four

One of the delights of autumn is the baked apple — pomme au four in French. Served with cream or without, it’s a classic dessert that’s both healthy and easy to make. But is it so totally basic that it doesn’t belong on a French cooking blog? I thought it over, called a couple of friends and, with their hearty encouragement, decided to go for it. I’ve been wanting to add pommes au four to the desserts on this site for a very long time. Et voilà.

Pommes au four / Baked apples

The impulse behind this week’s recipe was a recent visit to my cottage in Burgundy, where apples are particularly abundant this year. They were falling off the trees, in many varieties. However, as the summer was very hot and very dry, they were smaller than usual. Although in the past I’ve tended to use large apples for this dessert, I decided to give it a try with the small ones, serving two or three per portion, as shown above and, with caramelized sauce but no cream, here.

There were a few big apples left on another tree, however, and I gave that a try also. The first one I baked exploded (i.e. its skin popped off) — see the recipe page for a photo. When I tried again, I took care to score the apple skin before baking, and it turned out perfectly, shown here with a dollop of crème fraîche.

The key to success with this recipe is of course the apples, which should be firm and slightly tart. Choose an heirloom variety if at all possible. As for the other ingredients, you’ll get best results if you use raw cane sugar (demerara or cassonnade), unsalted butter and the finest crème fraîche you can find. If crème fraîche is not available where you live, choose a high-quality heavy cream. And…

Happy cooking.

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