Healthy baked apple treat for the pastry-impaired


Food Healthy French Toast Baked Apples

This Sept. 8, 2013 photo shows baked apples and apricots with French toast crust in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)


It's apple season again, which means there is an abundance of the fruit that begs you to assemble a filling for this baked apple treat from a mix of different apples rather than from a single type.

Be sure to taste the candidates before you start cooking to get a fix on what each one will bring to the table. Once you know, you can compose your own line-up.

Actually, if by chance you have a little extra time, try cooking each variety separately, then tasting it, because the taste and texture of an apple can change significantly when cooked.

I added dried apricots for contrast. I love the tartness of dried apricots, particularly California apricots. Turkish apricots, the other choice, are quite sweet, not as bright and sunny. Or, if you'd prefer some other kind of dried fruit -- cherries, raisins, cranberries or prunes -- swap out the apricots for your favorite.

The only other flavors in the filling are sugar and lemon juice. You may need to adjust the amounts of these two ingredients slightly depending on the sweetness of the apples.

This kind of dessert -- baked fruit with some kind of crust -- happens to be my favorite. But crusts can be tricky, particularly pie dough. So this recipe is for the pastry-impaired. Instead of pie dough, we use French toast.

For this filling, then, you should 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.

Baked Apples and Apricots with French Toast Crust

Start to finish: 1 hour 25 minutes (20 minutes active). Servings: 6.

3-4 apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced 1/4-inch thick (6 cups)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/2 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: 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.

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