The two most important considerations when choosing a baking apple are taste and texture and the apples that you enjoy for everyday snacks may not fare well when used in pies. The apples need to hold their shape during baking or you end up with applesauce in your pie. The best apples to use for baking are those that retain a little hint of crispness even after they are baked. They should also be a bit on the tart side because most baked apple desserts call for a substantial amount of sugar. Using less sugar isn’t always an option because it not only serves to flavor the apples, but to thicken the juices as well. Cutting down on sugar to compensate for sweeter apples can alter the taste and texture of the finished product.
Even with the many new varieties, some of the old favorites such as Granny Smith are still a wonderful choice for pies. They are always easy to find, hold up well when baked, and take on plenty of extra flavor from the spices and sugar. Other varieties that are newer, but no less delicious choices, are Braeburn, Pink Lady, Fuji, and Gravenstein; all are sturdy, crisp, and tasty. Apples such as Golden Delicious and Red Delicious, while being wonderful for snacking, won’t hold up well in pies and along with Cortland and Gala, may become mealy when baked.
One of the best ways to find a favorite is to experiment with a few different varieties. In many cases, a combination of one or two different varieties ends up being the perfect combination for your personal taste in pies.