Living in New Jersey, The Garden State, we have so many different varieties of fruits and vegetables within miles of us daily. Throughout the year the seasons come and go, changing the flavors available in the meantime. Apples in general are such an American staple, as the leaves start to change here the desire to pick, bake and cook with them begins to take hold. From pies to crumbles, applesauce to salads this fruit stretches wide in it array of dishes it can be prepared in. But for most of us apple season is also about an experience, often times tied together with apple picking is hayrides, farm visits and of course apple cider doughnuts.
There are handfuls of farms that I love to visit during autumn throughout New Jersey. Phillips Farm in Milford, Race Farms in Blairstown, Alstede Farms in Chester are a few to name. Our state is filled with so many it’s hard to choose, I have found myself visiting more farms this year.
Shopping and eating local is an easy way to help support out state and community.
Apples have so many different varieties, over 30 of them alone grown in NJ. With more available just over the border in New York State. Each having its own unique texture and flavor, to a new home baker that can feel over whelming in choosing the right kind to bake with.
When I make an apple-based dessert I use two main factors to decide. The first is its structure and texture. And the second is on its tartness or sweetness. For me flavor can be manipulated throughout the baking process, when other spices are incorporated. But it’s important to have
an apple variety that keeps its structure and doesn’t turn to mush when heated. While also not having a grainy or mealy texture. Tartness and sweetness are also important to help keep balance to the dessert. An apple variety that’s on the very tart end should be accompanied by a
different variety more on the sweeter end. The best way to achieve a balanced sweetness is to use more than one type of apple!
How can you choose by just looking? I tend to lean towards the apples that have multi colors as the skin. Those tend to have a nice balance of tart and sweet. Honey crisp, Jonagold, and Pink lady are all examples of great hybrid like apples. Apples on the sweeter spectrum are the FIJI, Macoun, being all red colored apples and Golden Delicious a light-yellow hue. The tartest Granny Smith apples are a great contract. When all added together the baker can control the amount of sugar, flavor and acidity needed. A recipe using all Granny Smith may require a lot of sugar to balance it. Try swapping out an apple or two for a sweeter Macoun to naturally sweeten without adding as much sugar. Find the combination that best suits your personal taste!
How do you know which will taste the best? That one is up to you and your taste buds. We all have a different palate and enjoy different levels of sweetness, I suggest constantly taste testing throughout the baking. Taste it when its raw and after its baked. Baking is all about trial and error with delicious results at the end. The apple season here in NJ stretched from early September to early November. Plenty of time to test all the apple recipes you can find. Follow me on Instagram @NJPastrychef for apple
inspiration all season long. Happy Baking!
Denise, born and raised in Northern New Jersey. Started her
culinary career at Johnson and Wales University in Providence,
Rhode Island. She completed her studies by graduating a
Bachelor’s in Baking and Pastry Arts and Food Service
Management, while also minoring in Contemporary Pastry, Beverage Management and Psychology.
After graduation she worked in various kitchens in NYC. She
landed a job at Jams by Jonathan Waxman within the boutique
and ecofriendly 1 Hotel Central Park. This is where Denise learned
seasonality and sophisticated homestyle desserts and never
looked back. Working at Jams she discovered her passion for a
farm to table style. As she would say “Living in the Northeast with
such an abundance of fruits and vegetables available, baking with
anything different than locally sourced and seasonal products
would just feel wrong now” After putting in the work and years
under her favorite Chef, Heather Miller, Denise was able to take
the reins and move up to Head Pastry Chef at Jams.
As the Pandemic hit she is also teaching Virtual Baking class
through Fēst cooking. Follow her class and recipe updates
@NJpastrychef on Instagram.
When Denise isn’t baking in the kitchen, she enjoys traveling and being active. Places she enjoys exploring vary from a relaxing beach day down the Jersey Shore, to hiking a trail in in Vernon. As long as its new, exciting and full of delish foods along the way. Denise enjoys different ways
to destress outside the kitchen also involves running, watching football and relaxing with a good beer.