The Two-Hour Apple MiracleMarch 12, 2016
This recipe requires two ingredients—sweet, juicy apples and big chunks of walnuts. Try to find at least 4 varieties of apples, the fresher the better, so yes if you can buy them from a farmer who just picked them, you are in for a doubly delicious treat. Ideally you’ll be using an enameled cast iron anything—baking dish, deep skillet, casserole—to develop a gentle caramel on the bottom. So long as you can lay about 3″/7cm of apples in it, you’re golden, as will be the apples. If you only have Pyrex, then use Pyrex. My only caveat is to avoid aluminium. I tried it and it discolored my teeth, so who knows what it did to my neural pathways.
First you want to cook only your apples. Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC. Peel, core, and cut into rough chunks 2 to 3 apples per person and toss them into your baking implement. That’s right. No grease, no sugar, no spice. And don’t feel you have to fuss and press them down. Leave them loose, and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour. You then remove the apples from the oven, but do not stir them around. If you need to flip over any pieces on top that may appear to be burning, you’re allowed, but that’s it.
Now for baking phase two. Lower the oven temperature to 375ºF/190ºC . Scatter enough walnuts that a walnut piece lands every 1″/2cm. I suggest you start with walnut halves, and crack each one with your fingers into 2 or 3 pieces. Don’t use a knife. Believe me, it makes a difference. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 1 more hour. The apples will be caramelized on the bottom, tender in the center, and, along with the walnuts, toasted on the top. YUM.