Brien Davis Bakes Apples

Simple, baked apples are as good as it gets. When the apples are meltingly ready, drench the dish with heavy cream and maple syrup, and serve right away. Soft and comforting, but still just apples.

COOK-October 2009
Written + Photographed by Jonathan Levitt

It’s raining. Brien Davis heads out to the orchard with Sky, his old white mutt. He bites into a Paula Red apple. It’s green with a light reddish blush and crisp, juicy flesh. At least it is today. “These are perfect now,” Davis says, “but they won’t keep.”


Davis and his wife, Emily, tend 1,600 fruit trees at the base of Hatchet Mountain in Hope. Apple season starts in September with Paula Red (“tart, sweet, and crisp”) and Ginger Gold (“a desert apple, good with white wine or cheese, much better cut than bitten, has a lemony aftertaste”). Later, they harvest four varieties of pears—Bosch, Flemish Beauty, Clapp’s Favorite, and Spartanette—and late-season apples like Macouns (“a lot of crispness and a lot of flavor”) and Spys (“They’re really pretty, with an old fashioned taste, an heirloom. They taste like something from an old book.”)

For baking, the Davises like any fresh apple. Brien says that McIntosh get a little bit saucy and Cortlands stay firm. They like Empire a lot, but it makes them think of McDonald’s because McDonald’s chose Empire for their apple slices. Brien says, “They’ve planted huge tracts of Empire trees out in the Midwest. I haven’t tried them though.”

It’s still raining. Davis lifts up his shirt and fills it with fallen apples. He walks over to the beef cows grazing in the tall grass. He drops the apples near their water trough. Sky stands by his side. The apple orchard ripens.

Hope Orchards | 434 Camden Rd. | Hope | 207.763.2824 |


Oven-baked appleswith maple syrup

Serves 4

4 apples, cored
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup heavy cream

(1) Set the oven at 350 degrees. Place the apples in a baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the apple cider and maple syrup. Pour the mixture over the apples.

(2) Bake the apples until they are tender enough to eat with a spoon, about 45 minutes.
As the apples cook, baste them regularly with the cider and maple syrup mixture at the bottom of the dish. Serve the apples warm, with fresh cream and more maple syrup.

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