What I really love about cooking is that it never gets boring.
There is always a new technique to try.
I have made applesauce dozens of times. Most of the time I cook it in a slow cooker. It's easy to throw the apples in it and forget about, without having to worry about the apples burning on the bottom of a pot. This has been the method I have used the last few years.
Then one day it hit me. What would happen if I tried roasting the apples to make applesauce?
I Googled the idea immediately and yes this is a thing people have done. I felt it sounded like something that I needed to do and once you taste it you will see why.
Why Roast Applesauce?
If the method I have been using works, then why change it up? What advantages is there to roasting the apples? There are two reasons why I like this method better now - the apples caramelize in the oven bringing out more flavor and the ending texture is better.
The dry heart of the oven help to brown the apples in a good way. The sugars in the fruit turn brown (which means they will turn black if you overcome them, so watch out!). You can get that added dimension of flavor any other way.
The texture is smooth, almost velvety. The sauce is thick, without being watery at all. The oven pulls away all the excess moisture. To get the peels off I simply run the apples through a food mill. Why bother peeling?
What Temperature Do You Roast the Apples at?
You want to get some nice carmelization, don't be scared to turn that oven up. I would roast them at 425 degrees for about 30 to 45 mins. This is the same temperature that Martha Stewart uses for her roasted sauce. I tested it out and it worked perfectly.
What I did not agree with Martha about is adding sugar. If you use the right apples it is not necessary (read my post on How to Select Apples for Applesauce Without Having to Add Sugar)
What Do You Roast the Applesauce In?
Try to pick your largest oven safe vessel. Last time I used a ceramic baking dish I picked up from Cost Plus World Market.
Cast iron is a great choice too as it dosages out the most even heat. A dutch oven is a good choice as you can fit tons of apples in it.
If you have not cured or seasoned your dutch oven in a while, I would recommend doing that before. Curing involves rubbing the entire thing, top to bottom, with a coat of oil and then placing it in the oven empty.
Even if yours comes already cured over time that wears out. Like with mine I ended up having my applesauce take on an unwanted black color - a telltale sign of a pot needing to be cured. I have just the standard jet black American made Lodge dutch oven. It's nothing fancy but gets the job done.
Spice It Up!
If you want to really put this sauce over the top thing about adding some spices. Feel free to add a stick of cinnamon or a piece of ginger. They can be easily removed when the sauce is done cooking. Cardamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg are also excellent additions. For ease use the powdered forms, but freshly grind whole spices if you can. The ground spices can just be stirred in at the end.
- Mix of apples at least 3 pounds, cored (peeled if you have no food mill)
- Spices optional
- Water ⅛ to ¼ cup
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Core apples and peel if you don't own a food mill.
- Add the apples to a large oven safe vessel.
- Pour in a tiny amount of water to keep the apples from burning on the bottom before they start to soften. Use no more than a ¼ cup water. You just want to barely cover the bottom of your cooking vessel.
- Add whole cinnamon sticks, ginger, or ground spices (optional)
- Roast for 30 to 45 minutes until apples are soft. The apple should be easily smashed with the back of a spoon.
- Run through a food mill to smooth. You could also use a food processor if you like.
- Serve warm or refrigerate for up to 5 days.