After testing more than 30 types of apples, the following varieties scored highest in recipes that used whole apples: BRAEBURN Originally imported from New Zealand but now also available from Washington state, this flavorful red Granny Smith descendant is a good choice for baking. The skins take on a burnished look, the fruit maintains its shape extremely well, and the flesh has a pleasing apple aroma and taste.

EMPIRE This red, sweet-tart apple is a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious and a far better baker than either of its parents. The skin turns an attractive pinkish-red, the flesh usually holds together.

HONEYCRISP Descended from Macoun, Golden Delicious and Haralson apples, this large, super-crisp and sweet-yet-tangy variety holds its shape fairly well when baked, and its reddish-yellow skin takes on an attractive tawny hue. The flesh has a faintly golden color and a memorable sweet-but-mellow flavor.

JONATHAN This old favorite doesn't hold its shape quite as well as some other varieties, but its complex sweet-tart flavor comes through clearly. The reddish skin retains some color.

ROME Also called Red Rome and Rome Beauty, this bright red apple is recommended primarily because it's very large and impressive. Its zesty-tart flesh maintains its integrity during baking. However, the skin fades to russet-red, sometimes splits and may become a little tough. Other "bakers" to try: Cameo, Crispin, Gravenstein, Jonagold, Nittany, Pacific Rose, Paula Red, Green Pippin, Sansa, Stayman and Summerfield.

-- Nancy Baggett