What an amazing apple crop we’ve had this year! Every tree has been heavy laden with fruit. It makes you want to capture this essence of fall by putting up (or freezing) as much applesauce as is humanly possible — and to indulge in sweet apple desserts at every turn.

FREE-FORM APPLE TART

I like to use a mix of tart apples such as Granny Smiths or Northern Spies and a sweet/juicy variety such as McIntosh, but I have also made this free-form tart with just Macouns.

You can taste the filling after the minimum amount of sugar has gone in and add more sweetener if the apples don’t taste desserty enough. As for the flour thickener, one teaspoon should be sufficient for all but the juiciest apples. One 9-inch tart serves four to six.

All-Butter Pastry:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

1 1/4 pounds apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced (3 generous cups)

2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 to 2 teaspoons flour

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in 3 or 4 pieces

Powdered sugar

Vanilla ice cream, if desired

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to mix. Distribute butter over the flour and process in short bursts until the butter is about the size of peas.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water over the mixture and pulse just until no dry flour remains and dough begins to clump together. If dough is too dry, sprinkle on remaining 1 tablespoon water and pulse again.

Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, gather into a ball, flatten to a 5-inch disc, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling, toss the apples with the sugar, cinnamon, flour and lemon juice in a large bowl.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to a 12-inch round. Do not trim edges, as they are supposed to be ragged. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet, patching any tears by pressing the dough together with your fingers.

Spoon fruit filling onto the dough, mounding it slightly higher in the center and leaving a 2-inch border all around the edge. Fold border in, pleating it as necessary to make an uneven 11/2-inch-wide edge. Scatter butter over the fruit.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until pastry is golden brown, apples are soft and juices are bubbly. Transfer to a wire rack with a large spatula to cool.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve slightly warm or at room temperature, with scoops of ice cream if desired.

APPLE-GINGERBREAD UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

Try this scrumptious upside-down cake from Amy Traverso’s new Apple Lover’s Cookbook (Norton, 2011), a wonderful compendium of apple recipes both sweet and savory with apple lore, apple history, advice on apple tools and best of all, handsome full-color photographs and charts describing the cooking and eating qualities of dozens of varieties of apples.

Serves 10 to 12.

CAKE:

6 tablespoons salted butter, softened

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 cup molasses

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

TOPPING:

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 large firm, tart apples (about 1 pound), peeled, cored and sliced into 1/8-inch rings (see note)

Whipped cream for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a round cake pan. With a standing or hand-held mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the molasses.

In a bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. Stir to combine, then stir in half the buttermilk. Repeat, adding another third of the flour mixture then the remaining buttermilk, then the remaining flour. Do not overmix.

For the topping, in a medium bowl, stir together sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss apple slices in half the sugar mixture, then arrange in the prepared pan, making overlapping concentric circles. Sprinkle remaining sugar mixture over the apples. Pour cake batter over the apples, smooth the top, and bake until a tester comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the pan sides to loosen. Lay a serving plate face-down over the cake pan, then flip to unmold cake. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

NOTE: Amy’s list of firm-tart apples that can be found in New England includes Idared, Newtown Pippin, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening, Rome, Stayman Winesap, Suncrisp and Granny Smith.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks. She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula.