High Country Baking: Apple pie bars | SummitDaily.com

High Country Baking: Apple pie bars

These apple pie bars bring the feeling of fall and come together in three simple steps.
Vera Dawson/High Country Baking

Leaves changing color, snow on high peaks … it’s time for fall desserts. These bars are a good one, with a crisp shortbread base, a soft-sweet filling and a brown sugar-oat streusel, they taste like apple pie but are easier to make and more versatile. They can be a cookie to pack in a lunch box, like the ones in the photograph or, cut into larger pieces and served with a whiskey sauce, a delicious dessert. However you present them, their wholesome goodness will win applause. They come together in three simple steps: make the base, then the topping, and, finally, the apple filling, then bake. The entire process can be done in less than 30 minutes.

At high elevations select sweet baking apples, like Golden Delicious, and cut them into chunks no larger than ¼-inch or they won’t soften enough during baking. At sea level you have a wider selection of baking apples so choose your favorite and you can cut them a little bigger. If you select a tart apple, increase the sugar in the filling to taste and the cream to 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup).

Apple Pie Bars

Make in a shiny metal 8-by-8-inch baking pan

Recipe works at any elevation


1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level

1/4 cup granulated sugar, preferably superfine

Pinch salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Streusel topping

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup oat flakes (not instant)

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Apple filling

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar, preferably superfine

Pinch nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 1/3 to 3 cups peeled, cored, diced golden delicious apples (about 3 medium apples)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Line your pan with non-stick or regular aluminum foil, extending it several inches past the pan on two opposing sides to use as handles when removing the baked bars. Grease any exposed parts of the pan and all the regular foil with a baking spray that contains flour. Set the pan aside.

Make and bake the base: Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine well. Cut the butter into small pieces, add them with the vanilla and pulse until large, moist curds form and no dry ingredients remain. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan, smooth and level it. Bake until it’s completely set but still soft when touched — it won’t color much. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 410 degrees with a rack in the center position.

Make streusel topping: Cut up the butter and put it in a microwave safe 1 cup measuring cup or small bowl and heat in a microwave oven at a low-medium temperature until melted. While it heats, add the remaining topping ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Scrape in the melted butter and stir/toss until the dry ingredients soak up all the butter, are uniformly moist and form small clumps. Set aside while you make the filling; the dry ingredients will further absorb the butter as the mixture rests.

Make filling: Whisk the flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt until combined. Add the diced apples and toss or stir until they’re coated with the dry ingredients and nothing remains in the bottom of the bowl. Stir in the vanilla and cream until it’s evenly distributed, then pour the filling onto the cooled base. Sprinkle the topping over the filling.

Bake: Cook for 15 minutes, at 410 degrees then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until the topping is golden, the apples are soft (a toothpick should slide into the filling with no resistance) and the filling is bubbling. This can take another 30-40 minutes, depending on the apples you’re using and the size of the chunks into which you’ve cut them. If the topping is done before the apples, tent it with a piece of foil until the apples are fully cooked

Cool, serve and store: Cool completely on a rack. Refrigerate, covered, in the pan if not eating immediately. Use the foil handles to remove the slab of cookies from the pan and a sharp, thin-bladed knife to cut them. Serve warm, room temperature or even cold. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

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