Hungry for something homey, warm and spicy? Baked fruit desserts are just the thing to satisfy that craving. Follow these tips for luscious results.

BAKED FRUITS- Choose apples and pears that hold their shape well when baked. The preferred apples for baking are Red Rome (Rome Beauty), Winesap, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Jonathan and Golden Delicious. Although most pears work well, some of the preferred varieties are Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc.

- Coring whole fruit is easy if you invest in a long, cylindrical apple corer. With just a twist or two of the corer you can remove the cores and seeds from apples and pears.

- To keep the peel from splitting during baking, use the peeling edge of an apple corer or a vegetable peeler to remove a strip of peel around the top of the fruit.

- Experiment with different fillings for baked apples and pears. For starters, try granola, chocolate chips, coconut, nuts or a cinnamon-sugar mixture.

- To see if the fruit is done, poke it with a fork. If the fork goes in and comes out easily, the fruit is done. Baking time varies slightly with the size of the fruit.


- Always use the size dish called for in the recipe. The filling will bubble high during baking, and the dish needs to allow for this. For extra insurance, place a baking sheet or pizza pan under the baking dish to catch spills.

- In order for the bottom of the biscuit topping to cook, the filling must be hot when the biscuit mixture is dropped on it. Prepare the filling first and keep it over low heat while mixing the topping. Then quickly pour the filling into the baking dish and drop on the biscuit mixture.

- To check doneness, after the minimum baking time is up, insert a wooden toothpick into the center of one or two of the biscuit mounds. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cobbler is done.


- Cubing bread for a betty is easier if the bread is frozen. Use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion when cutting.

- Try mixing a double batch of the topping next time you make a crisp. Put the extra in a freezer bag, and seal, label and freeze for up to one month. Next time you want to make a crisp, all you'll have to do is fix the filling.

- Like other baked fruit desserts, betties and crisps taste best when eaten warm. To serve the dessert at the perfect temperature, let it cool about 30 minutes.