Sunday, September 5, 2010

Taking the Bite Out of Fall (Apple Pie Bars)

Okay, so it IS September. Already. I have this thing about fall...I love it! But I hate it! Especially where I live now, in the cold, northeast corner of Washington, I am so loathe to let go of the gorgeous, warm summer days. Eventually fall wins me over with its stunning colors and crisp, tantalizing air that makes you just want to cuddle up in your Snuggie with a good book and cup of tea. But for now I stubbornly refuse to give in, for when I do, I know winter will be close on its heels. After all, it isn't officially fall until the 22nd. However, what I baked yesterday chipped away a bit of my resolve. There are so many foods that we associate with fall. Pumpkins, squash, corn, and of course, apples.

Mmmm...there's nothing quite like the smell of fresh, baking apples on sunshiny fall day.
The other day, a friend gave me 3 boxes full of tart baking apples from the tree in her yard. The two big boxes were a donation to our community food bank, which meets in the basement of our church, but the other box was for me! I always cringe a bit when I get baking apples because I know what that means. Lots of peeling and slicing in store for me! You know, I can't remember the last time I made an apple pie. If I've ever made one... I usually even cheat and leave the peel on when I make apple crisp, if you can believe that! But you know what convinced me? The smell.

For three days, the boxes of apples sat in my back room, just off the kitchen. Every time the door opened, the heavenly aroma of ripe baking apples wafted into the house. I absolutely love the smell of apples. In fact, my favorite Yankee Candle scent is Macintosh. After three days, that wonderful smell convinced me that whatever was involved in making some great baked treat out of these apples would be worth it. Fortunately, my nose was right!
For some reason, I thought that making apple pie bars would be easier than just making a pie. Well, I was wrong about that. I think it was more work. But they are temptingly convenient (which could be an pro or a con depending on whether you're on a diet or not!) and so very pretty! One of the hard things turned out to be finding a recipe! Allrecipes has about 100 (okay maybe not quite that many...but it seemed like it!) and so does everyone else...almost every one called for crushed cornflakes. I don't keep those on hand, and oddly enough, last time I looked for them in both of our convenience stores, all I could find were Frosted Flakes! One recipe, however, used quick oats instead, so I decided to substitute. I'm not sure what role they play, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it's to soak up the liquid from the apples. If so, it worked!

I began by peeling the apples. The recipe called for 12-14, but mine are pretty small, so I did about 16. I put on some music, and it was actually very relaxing sitting down, peeling long, shiny curls into my bright silver bowl.

I accidentally tried to peel my thumb at one point so I do have a small battle scar to remember the apples by. The slicing was the part I found the most tedious, but it must be done so there's not much to be done about it!

The dough resembles pie dough in some respects, except it involves eggs, which you separate. The yolks go into the dough and the whites get brushed on top. So one layer of dough is rolled very thin and put on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. I would advise you to use one smaller than 12x17 (which I did, of course). I tried to roll the dough on the pan, thinking that way I wouldn't have to try to lift it, but then my rolling pin didn't fit...anyway, I used a drinking glass instead. It wouldn't quite roll out to the edges, so I just evened it off and left it where it would roll to without breaking. I sprinkled the oats over that, then layered apple slices on top of that. I then sprinkled the apples very generously with a sugar-cinnamon mixture and followed that with the other half of the dough (this was tricky too, as I did have to transfer this layer from the counter). It didn't quite cover, so I had to keep pulling gently and re-piecing until it was close enough.

It wasn't pretty, but it did look like it would be tasty! I then whisked the egg whites until they were foamy and brushed them on top. After I slipped the pan in the oven I surveyed the aftermath.

Baking episodes always seem to have a way of leaving my kitchen looking like a disaster area and it didn't help that earlier this morning I had been making hamburger soup for the church potluck. In fact, my wonderful hubby is, even now, in the kitchen doing dishes (at least, I think he is...somewhere under that pile...).
The smell this apple treat created in my house was so good it was almost like eating it. Almost. When it was golden on top I removed it from the oven and let it sit while I prepared the glaze. A tangy-sweet mixture of lemon juice and powdered sugar, I got it to the right consistency, then drizzled it over the back of a spoon onto the bars.

I had barely enough patience to let them cool a few minutes before venturing to snitch a forkful. I closed my eyes and felt a little of my resistance to the coming season crumble.
Travis and I could hardly keep our fingers out of them all evening although the plan was to take them for potluck at church today.

Thankfully, the recipe makes a very large batch- you'll need one! We did manage to control ourselves and there were many thankful people at church today as one by one, the bars began to disappear. Amazingly, there are 3 left, but I doubt those will last the night...

Find the recipe here: Apple Pie Bars (as mentioned before though, I did substitute 1 cup quick oats for the crushed cornflakes and it seemed to work great!).


  1. That does look very yummy!! I can only imagine the smell of the apples baking...I completely adore anything apple :)


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