For my family, Christmas day brunch is part of our tradition. A nice, big spread with biscuits and jam, grits and egg casserole, maybe country ham or bacon or homemade sausage. Maybe a French toast casserole, or one with hashbrowns. And fruit. Sometimes a baked fruit casserole with canned fruit, sometimes a fresh fruit salad. I like to mix it up a little and get creative. My most recent and very successful iteration are these perfectly seasonal and festive baked apples redolent with the spices of gingerbread and a little pucker from cranberries. They are fun twist for a baked fruit dish, and pretty to boot, with all the taste and aroma of Christmas. And bonus points that you can make it the day before.
The fresh ginger and spices waft fragrantly through the kitchen which is an added bonus. I love pink lady apples for this for their balance of tart and sweet and it will hold it’s shape. You want to bake these so they are soft, but still hold a bit of bite. Honeycrisp or Fuji are good alternatives. You can absolutely leave out the cranberries, but I love the pop of tartness and that when they break down, they tint the apples a festive pinky-red. I think of these as a breakfast or brunch dish, but they would be equally delicious alongside a pork roast, or a goose if you go traditional!
Gingerbread Baked Apples
8 large apples (I like pink lady)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 – inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups fresh cranberries
3 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Put the lemon juice in a large bowl. One at a time, peel each apple, then cut out the core and slice them into ¼ inch wedges. Immediately drop the slices in the bowl and toss to coat with lemon juice. Continue with the remaining apples, tossing after each apple to get the lemon juice distributed. Grate the ginger with a microplane or very fine grater over the apples and toss to distribute. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Toss well to coat the apples and distribute everything evenly. Add the cranberries and toss to combine. Transfer the apples to the prepared baking dish and spread out evenly. Scrape as much of the spice mix and any juice left in the bowl out over the apples. Thinly slice the butter and dot it over the top of the apples. Cover with dish with foil and bake for 40 – 50 minutes, giving it a good stir every 10 minutes or so, until the apples are soft but hold their shape. You can serve it immediately, or cool, cover and refrigerate overnight. Reheat gently in a 350 degree oven just until warmed through. Do not overbake.