Mix And Match Apple Varieties For Better Baked Goods

Knowing which variety to choose for apple-based baked goods can be challenging. Sometimes, a recipe calls for a certain variety, like Granny Smith for pies, which is much-appreciated guidance. When a nondescript instruction of "apples" sits on the ingredients list, however, it leaves us wondering if the type of apple even matters. Well, it does, and the best types of apples for baking tend to have a crisp texture that endures the oven along with both tart and sweet flavors. Even with these recommendations, there are still many apples to choose from, and no one ever said you have to pick just one. In fact, your baked goods will often be better if you choose a few.

Mixing and matching apple varieties is a sign of a creative baker, one open to adding dimension to their cakes, tarts, and breads. All you need to do is pick out some apples that offer a myriad of qualities, which is not hard to do with so many out there. Many times, the best variety (or varieties) to use depends on which apple desserts you're planning to make, but some general principles will help guide you in mixing and matching different types for delicious outcomes. There are more than 7,500 apple varieties around the world and, although you won't find all of these in your local grocery store, you'll still have plenty to choose from.

How to pick which apples to combine

Pairing different types of apples with varying degrees of tartness and sweetness results in more flavor complexity in your baked goods. Beyond just sweetness level, distinct notes of flavors in the apples, like honey, floral, and citrus, can also be combined to a baker's advantage.

The Granny Smith and Pink Lady varieties are especially snappy and tart — good standalone picks for those who want a less sweet baked good, but also great choices to combine with a sweeter apple. The Honeycrisp apple, as its name implies, is just as sweet as it is crispy and will bake in symphony with a tart apple. On the other hand, the subtle flavor of the Golden Delicious variety is its superpower, inviting spices, sugars, and other, bolder apples to accompany it.

If you're lucky, you'll also find some lesser-known apples at your local grocery store or farmers' market. The Japanese Mutsu apple is a hybrid of Golden Delicious and Indo varieties with aromatic flesh and firm skin. It could be matched with the SugarBee, a dense and juicy American apple reminiscent of a Honeycrisp. The more different the apple varieties, the more interesting the baked goods will turn out to be. Best of all, bakers are not limited to just two apples — the more the merrier!