Apples may taste good and bake bad, as in a watery pie or flesh that has fallen apart in a crisp. These apples are best for baking.
Hard, red Baldwins have won pie bakers for centuries. Cortlands, red with a green tinge, do not turn brown when peeled, which makes them wonderful for pies. Soft, green Golden Delicious used to be one of the only bakers available, but others are more flavorful. Crispin or Mutsu (same apple) is a big green round you’ll find in markets in late fall. Old-fashioned Northern Spy apples hold their shape in pies and cakes. All-red Rome Beauty doesn’t taste great, but works well in a confection. Spygold (a cross between Northern Spy and Golden Delicious) is favored by some, but the gold part dilutes the flavor of the spy.