Baked apples must be amongst the easiest puddings going. But that doesn't mean they're not yummy. They can be as simple or as elaborate as you have time for and your fancy takes you. And they're one of those wonderful puddings that the English are so good at ... the one that looks after itself while you do something else.
I have to admit to a deep-seated love of all things apples. They're versatile, they're good hot, cold, by themselves or paired with other ingredients, and they can hold their own in sweet and savoury dishes alike. Most of all... they're absolutely singing when cooked or arranged with my favourite spice: cinnamon.
If you have nothing but apples in the house but want a tasty pudding, then core your apple, score the skin around its middle and put it in a medium oven for half an hour or so. Sprinkle with sugar and a little cinnamon, or a drizzle of lemon juice when it comes out of the oven and you have a pudding that's truly worth eating.
If you have custard in the house, then even better. Pour it fridge cold over your hot, fluffy baked apple and enjoy the contrast. Or serve it with vanilla ice cream, straight from the freezer.
What could be nicer?
You can - of course - take your baked apple dessert a little further.
Fill the centre of the apples with raspberry or blackberry jam and serve with hot custard.
Or stuff the middle with a few spoonfuls of mincemeat. Good quality bought mincemeat makes a very useful standby if you don't have the time or inclination to make your own and if it doesn't quite compare to home-made, add a dash of port or sloe gin to perk it up a little. Dot the mincemeat-stuffed apples with butter and pour over a little orange juice. In no time at all, your kitchen will be awash with the smells of Christmas!
Thick cream is good served with these tasty apples ...
And for the absolute indulgence: core your apples and cut them in half around the middle. Bake them - face down - in a medium oven until soft. Then dot with butter, drizzle with honey and return to the oven for five minutes until the butter and honey have melted and your baked apples swim in a heavenly caramel sauce. Serve immediately with cinnamon ice cream ... and watch that you don't burn your lips!