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Mom and apple pie…er, apple bars

As I sit here, a cold front is moving into western Ohio. It is cold, wet and windy. Bone-chilling. I stopped by my local farmer’s market, Green Thumb, to pick up fall staples. You know, squash and apples. And pumpkins. To me, pumpkins are a class all their own. I love pumpkins. They’re just the perfect pick-me-up on a dreary fall day. How can you not smile when you see that bright orange? Of course, I love pumpkins in all their colors and forms- the muted orange of Long Island Cheese, the ghostly white of Lumina, the warty peanut pumpkin…

But this is not a post about pumpkins (although, I could easily fill a page). This is about apples. Specifically, my mom’s apple bars. Mom was a baking goddess when I was growing up. There were often pies and cookies for treats. Her apple bars filled the void between the two. You didn’t know there was a void between cookies and pie, did you? Anyway, I loved standing at her side “helping” her make these. For some reason, I liked eating the peels from the Granny Smiths she used to make the bars. And I couldn’t wait until they came out of the oven. The caramel-y filling always burned my mouth. I usually had a glass of milk on standby, though. They were the best snack when I got home from school.

I nicked a few slices...

Despite my love of her apple bars, I never really got around to making them for myself. Oh, I tried once, back before I knew about baking.  It was a mushy disaster. I gave up on them for myself. Fast-forward 13 years. I had some tart apples languishing on my counter that needed used. They called out for baking, but I knew I didn’t want a pie. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some apple pie. It’s just that I wanted something different, something more intimate, if such a term can be applied to baked goods. I wanted….Mom’s apple bars.

I dusted off the booklet of recipes she gave me and flipped to the bar recipe. By golly, I had everything I needed. Time to get baking…

Mom’s Apple Bars

Filling

  • 4 c baking apples
  • 1 c sugar (3/4 granulated, 1/4 brown)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp flour

Crust

  • 2 1/4 c flour (I used 1 c whole wheat, 1 1/4 AP)
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t salt

Glaze (if desired)

  • 1 tsp butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • lemon juice to mix

Preheat oven to 400°

Combine all the crust ingredients ( a mixer works just fine here). When just combined, divide into two discs and refrigerate, about 30 minutes. In the meantime, combine all filling ingredients.

Almost ready to go in...

Roll out 1/2 the dough into a rectangle (doing this on parchment will make it SO much easier) about 12″ x 18″ and place on large baking sheet. Spread with apple mixture, leaving about a 1″ border. Roll out second 1/2 of the dough and lay over the apples. Roll and crimp the edges, and cut a few slits in the top. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Feel free to substitute your favorite pie spices. I like the simplicity of just cinnamon.  I added the whole wheat flour to give it a little more bite. I think it came out wonderful. The dough is pretty sturdy and not sweet at all. It balances the filling nicely. I didn’t want to mess with the glaze because, well, I didn’t have powdered sugar. And I don’t think it needs it.By the way, these make great grab-n-go snacks. They travel well (lunchbox! picnic!), and will keep for about a week covered with a kitchen towel.

While out shopping, I picked up a jug of local apple cider…at my local grocery! Usually I find it at the farmer’s market, but they had none. The store had had samples available, and I’ll tell ya, this was some of the best cider I’ve tasted in a long time. It smelled like fresh, crisp apples. It tasted like fresh, crisp apples. You don’t  find that in commercial “local” ciders (which is what we get when there’s a bad apple year) So, I decided to double up on my apple treat and have a cold glass with my warm apple bar.

Go ahead and give them a try. They’re a great alternative to pie and cookies. Perfectly, simply fall.

Apple love

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One response »

  1. Oh. My. Gosh! These look delightful!! ~Megan @CountryCleaver

    Reply

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