The apples and sugar caramelize on the bottom of the pan as they roast, giving the finished applesauce a marvelous depth of flavor. If you don't have a food mill, core the apples before roasting; after they're cooked, puree the apples in a food processor, and strain before adding spices.
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Pinch of coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3 pounds small assorted apples, such as Gala, McIntosh, or Fuji (about 10)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cloves
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine water, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Scatter butter pieces over mixture, and top with apples. Roast until apples are very soft, 30 to 40 minutes.
Working in batches, pass apple mixture through the medium disk of a food mill and into a bowl. Stir in spices. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Applesauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.