It's apple season again. Remember when we used to have to be content with a strictly limited roster: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Macintosh. The end. These days, thanks to adventurous farmers and the resurgence of all kinds of apple varieties, there's a ton of exciting choices.
This abundance practically begs you to assemble the filling for this baked apple treat from a mix of different apples rather than from a single type. Just be sure to taste the candidates before you start cooking to get a fix on what each one will bring to the table. Is it honey-like? Puckery-tart? Intense? Wine-y? Once you know, you can compose your own line-up.
Actually, if by chance you have a little extra time, you should try cooking each variety separately, then tasting it, because the taste and texture of a given apple can change significantly when cooked.
Testing this recipe was a real learning experience for me. I discovered that if I didn't bake the apple/apricot mixture long enough before adding the French toast topping, the apples wouldn't become tender and give up their juice. Test the tenderness of the baked apples by piercing them with a paring knife, and check to see if there's juice in the pan. Then you can top it off with the soaked bread.
Start to finish 1 hour 25 minutes (20 minutes active); serves 6
3 to 4 apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced ¼-inch thick (6 cups)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
½ cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup low-fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 slices whole-wheat bread, crusts discarded, cut in half
Low-fat frozen vanilla yogurt (optional)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
In an 8-inch square baking dish, toss the apples with 1/3 cup of the sugar, the apricots and lemon juice. Cover with foil and bake on the oven’s middle shelf for 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla extract.
When the apples have baked, remove the foil. Dip the bread halves in the egg mixture and arrange them in a single layer over the apples, cutting the bread as necessary to cover all of the apples. If there is any egg mixture left, pour it over the bread. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, then bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve right away, topped with a small scoop of the vanilla frozen yogurt, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories; 20 calories from fat (11 percent of total calories); 2.5 grams fat (0.5 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 60 milligrams cholesterol; 40 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber; 29 grams sugar; 6 grams protein; 120 milligrams sodium.