“Good lady” apples on toast (Apples bonne femme)

We hear the word “cooking” all the time. It is simply ubiquitous in our life and in our language. We need to eat. We need to cook, or someone needs to cook for us. But do we ever think about what the word “cooking” actually means? Well, it means to apply heat to something to change its form and its state. And while most cooking does change food, it has the potential to change some more than others.

Apples and toast are two totally unsuspecting ingredients on their own. Having moved to New England earlier this year has changed my view on apples, since I’ve had the best of my life here. Toast I love as well, but it’s very ordinary. But cooking apples and toast together has turned out to be something out of this world fantastic.

Cue in apples, butter, maple syrup, and jam, all baked on a slice of white bread and I want to yawn. Until I tasted this. Butter caramelizes the toast with the syrup and jam and the apple turns soft. Eaten together and…just….wow. No words. What I love about this recipe is that it is so normal, so rustic, with ingredients that everyone always has on hand that are really inexpensive. It is also very beautiful because the apples split when they cook. Make it when you are out of your fancy ingredients and wow the people around you. Cooking wins again.

“Good Lady” Apples on Toast (Apples Bonne Femme)

Adapted from Jacques Pepin’s new cookbook, Essential Pepin

Notes: if you’re watching your carbs, omit the toast.

Ingredients

6 large apples (2 pounds) (use an apple that will keep its shape during cooking such as Golden or Red Delicious, russet, Granny Smith, or Pippin)

1/3 cup apricot jam

1/3 cup light maple syrup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick) cut into 6 pieces

6 slices good quality white bread

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Core the apples and make sure to remove all of the seeds.

With the point of a knife, make an incision in the skin about a third of the way down each apple and cut through the skin 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep all around. As the apple cooks, the flesh expands, and the part of the apple above this cut will lift up like a lid. Without scoring, the apple could burst.

Arrange the slices of bread flat on a gratin dish or baking sheet and place the  apples on top of each. Coat the apples with the apricot jam and maple syrup and dot with the butter. Bake for 30 minutes.

Baste the apples with the juice and cook for another 30 minutes. The apples should be cooked throughout, and be pump, brown, and soft to the touch. Let cool to lukewarm before serving.

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