October is the heart of apple season, so now is the time to pick or buy fresh apples and get baking. Did you know that apples are part of the rose family, and that more than 7,000 varieties are grown around the world? Maybe 2020 is the year to expand your repertoire of vegan apple recipes.
Picking the best baking apples
What makes a good baking apple? You need a variety that keeps its structure while baking and retains a bit of the acidity, which lends tartness. Otherwise, you wind up with a soft, flavorless dessert. Bon Appetit recommends six top varieties: Granny Smith, Jonagold, Honey Crisp, Braeburn, Mutsu, Winesap and Pink Lady. Granny Smith is a top option because it’s widely available and affordable in most ordinary grocery stores.
Related: How to make your own organic caramel apple treats for Halloween
Spicing up your apple desserts
Cinnamon is the most common spice to pair with apples. But you can get creative with your fall flavors. To spice up your pies and muffins, try adding extra nutmeg, ginger, cloves or cardamom to the recipes below, depending on your taste preferences. Adjusting the spice levels let you make these recipes your own.
Vegan apple recipes
Here are some of the most popular ways to make the most of the season’s harvest.
Cooking apples instantly gives your home a delicious autumnal smell. And when you’re frying apple fritters, this is doubly so. School Night Vegan has an easy fried fritter recipe that combines nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom with apples for a breakfast or brunch treat. You don’t need special equipment to make these vegan apple fritters — an ordinary high-sided saucepan works fine. Ice them with cinnamon- or maple-flavored frosting for extra decadence.
Vegan apple cobbler
The fewer the dishes, the easier the cleanup. This apple cobbler recipe from My Darling Vegan requires a single skillet and features a caramel sauce. In case you’re wondering about the differences between a cobbler, a crumble and a crisp, here’s how Chef Sarah McMinn, creator of My Darling Vegan, explains it. All three involve sugary baked fruit and pastry. But the difference comes down to toppings. Crisps and crumbles are both topped with streusels. A crisp’s streusel contains oats and a crumble’s doesn’t. Cobblers, on the other hand, are covered with a sweet drop biscuit. The biscuit rises as it cooks, creating a bumpy look reminiscent of a cobbled road.
Vegan apple cake
What’s even better than vegan apple cake? Apple gingerbread cake. This simple recipe from Minimalist Baker requires one bowl and only about an hour before you’re eating a delicious dessert. Oats lend it a hearty texture. Eat it unfrosted for breakfast, or add a thick layer of vegan cream cheese frosting for dessert.
Vegan apple pie
As every American has heard a million times, apple pie is the quintessential dessert. No autumn is complete without a few. The trickiest thing about apple pies is making the crust. If you’re a serious baker, you’ll pride yourself on the flavor, flakiness, consistency and aesthetic quality of your dough lattice work or other artistic flourishes. For those of us who aren’t up to making a crust from scratch, store-bought crust or a crumble-top pie are easier and still delicious. If you’re going for store-bought, read the ingredients to be sure the crust doesn’t contain butter or lard. Connoisseurus Veg offers this vegan apple pie recipe featuring a coconut oil crust.
Vegan apple muffins
Eating a couple of vegan apple muffins can be a healthful way to start the day. Chunks of tart, diced apple will give your muffins more texture. Or if you prefer a smoother, more uniform kind of muffin, use applesauce. This recipe from Lazy Cat Kitchen includes healthy ingredients like oat flour, almond flour and cardamom pods. For extra taste and beauty, top each muffin with a fresh blackberry.
Vegan apple crisp
This vegan apple crisp recipe can be made with several different types of flour, so it’s easy to adapt for your friends and family members who follow a gluten-free diet. Walnuts give the crisp extra protein and flavor. Top it with a few apple slices and it looks festive enough to bring to a holiday brunch.
Sometimes, the simplest desserts are the best. If you’ve come into a small fortune of apples, why not make applesauce? According to this recipe from The Stay at Home Chef, the best applesauce relies on a mixture of apple types. Golden Delicious, Fuji, Granny Smith, McIntosh and Jonathan all work well and are easy to find in most supermarkets. You can use the conventional stovetop method of cooking applesauce in a saucepan, or you can put the apples in a slow cooker or pressure cooker with some lemon juice, water and a cinnamon stick. Your refrigerated applesauce will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to two weeks, but the sooner you eat it, the better it will taste. If you don’t think you’re going to eat all that applesauce that fast, freeze it in freezer bags.
Images via Joanna Stołowicz, Sarah Gualtieri, Pixel1, Conger Design (1, 2) and Rachel Loughman