75 degrees in October? Not really an ideal day for slaving away inside over a hot stove, but somehow it was just perfect for me. There was a beautiful breeze blowing through the open window and warming rays of sun shining in on me. Heaven!
David and I went to church (two weeks in a row!!) and then went grocery shopping (including Trader Joe’s!!) to pick up stuff for today. I got these great curry chicken tenders from Trader Joes for lunch. Yummy! After a relaxing lunch while watching Heroes (OMG!!), I retreated to the kitchen to bake before the Packer game started.
Saturday afternoon David and I went apple picking with some friends at Barthel Fruit Farm. It was a little warm for my usual apple picking “uniform” (hooded sweatshirt for protection from scratchy trees and pockets for carrying apples down from a ladder) but I’m really not going to complain about beautiful weather in October.
Golden Delicious apples had just ripened and the trees were full. I was also able to pick a couple Spartans and Jonathans and a handful of Cortlands. Of course I had to sample.
So, armed with freshly picked apples, I knew I had to bake something to use some of them up, because there’s no way we can eat 10 pounds of apples before they go bad! I chose a recipe from Annie’s Eats blog, of Apple Pie Cupcake fame. These were Apple Crumble Bars. Kind of like apple pie, but in bar form.
I took a little liberty with the recipe. It’s a little scary to play with base ingredients in baked goods, but I made some simple substitutions and additions, and it turned out great. Click on that link above for her recipe and instructions, but here’s what I did…
Apple Crumble Bars
For the base:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (Bob’s Red Mill. Regular whole wheat flour would work too, but sift it)
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the filling:
Approximately 5 cups of peeled, cored, and chopped apples
5 tbsp. sugar (can substitute 1 or 2 tbsp. with brown sugar)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. lemon juice (fresh squeezed!!)
1/4 cup fruit jam (I used a low-sugar strawberry preserves from Trader Joe’s)
For the topping:
1/2 cup flour (I used a half cup measuring cup, and filled it about 2/3 with all-purpose flour and 1/3 with whole wheat pastry flour)
3 tbsp. sugar (I substituted 1 tbsp. with Maple Sugar from The Spice House)
4 tbsp. butter, softened
I still used the same preparation method from Annie’s Eats recipe.
Her recipe called for 4 medium sized apples. I had to guess at this one, because most of my tarty apples (Spartan, Jonathan) were very small. So I used a whole bunch of apples, and it was about 5 cups when they were peeled and chopped, and that covered the 8X8 pan pretty well.
These get cooked down with the sugar and cinnamon. I sprinkled a little of that Maple Sugar in there too. Then the slurry of lemon juice and cornstarch is added. If you don’t have one of these adorable little wisks, a fork would work too. 😉
Next is the base. It’s super easy and doesn’t need a mixer (a bonus for me, since I don’t have one). I used a fork and my fingers because I don’t even have a pastry blender. Just keep blending the butter until the consistency looks like breadcrumbs.
This is then pressed into the foil-lined pan. I didn’t press too hard, but I didn’t let it stay crumbly either.
This is then baked, and the jam is spread on, topped by the apple mixture while it’s still warm.
The topping looks pretty similar to the base, and when it’s all combined, it’s poured on the top of this deliciousness and baked. I added a little more maple sugar and cinnamon to the top before putting it back into the oven.
It comes out golden brown and delicious. Be sure to let it cool for a while before cutting into it, because the crust and topping are very soft at first.
I put mine in the fridge for a little bit to really firm up the crust. I found it easiest to eat with a fork and plate, but the crust is sturdy enough to pick up by hand. Just cut the pieces small!
It would be great with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but David and I dug in with a tall glass of milk, and it was still delicious.
Try it! Yum!!