Apple Pie Bars

July 30, 2013

It seems like I’ve been making these scrumptious bars all summer long.  Why then, has it taken me until now to share them with all of you?  Why, indeed!  To understand my hold out, we have to travel back in time a bit.

Growing up, it just wasn’t summer without my aunt’s apple pie bars.  They were always there for trips to the lake, days in the pool, and backyard barbeque adventures.  Flaky and sweet, with the perfect hint of tart- they satisfied everyone after a long day in the sun.


I’ve long since lost my copy of my aunt’s recipe, but I’ve never lost that nostalgia that came along with them.  And so I made it my mission this summer to embark on recreating my favorite summer time dessert.  This isn’t her exact recipe- I’m sure if she sees this, she’ll send it to me- which would be fantastic- but, I think these are pretty close.  I’ve added a tiny twist that occurred out of pure serendipity.

Rustic to the eye, crowd-pleasing, and ready for action in an hour’s time, here are

Jenny’s Cinnamon Pecan Apple Pie Bars
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup shortening  (Note: You can use butter here, but the shortening really helps with the flakiness)
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk ( Note: Keep the separate egg white for later on!)
2/3 cup milk
1 to 1 1/2 cups crushed Special K Cinnamon Pecan Cereal  (Note: You can substitute crushed corn flakes)

Combine all of the ingredients except for the crushed cereal.  You can do this by either using the tools God gave you, like I do (otherwise known as your hands), or a food processor.  Take half, form it into a big round, and flour up either a super huge cutting board, or your counter top.  I opted for counter top.  Roll out the dough until it is about 1/8th and will fill the bottom of a GREASED 10 1/2 by 15 1/2 cookie sheet.  You know, the big ones that have a little lip on all sides.  (I think Ina Garten calls these a Jelly Roll Pan?  I don’t know- a big ass cookie sheet is what I call it.  Very technical.)  Once it’s rolled out and covering the bottom of your greased sheet, you’ll sprinkle the crushed cereal onto it.  Here’s where my fortunate moment of serendipity occurred.  I don’t keep straight up corn flakes in my pantry.  I never really use them, so I was stuck with a bit of a problem to solve.  Enter the Special K Cinnamon Pecan cereal.  I always have it on hand because I love it for breakfast, and I figured.. cinnamon and pecans, yep, that will work with apples.  So I went for it- and let me tell you, it just added an extra little pop of delightful.  If that doesn’t sound like your thing- no worries, go ahead and forge onward with the cornflakes. 





Now- for the filling!

6 tart apples (peeled, cored, sliced- I like Granny Smiths, but use your fave)
1 cup of white granulated sugar
1tbsp cinnamon


Toss it all together, and spread it over the crust.  






Next, take out that other half of the dough, and roll it out.  Now- I always have a problem with my second ball of dough.  Somehow my second half is always less dough than my first half, and it’s never quite enough to cover the whole thing.  No worries, you can fake it and make everyone think you did this fancy version on purpose.  Or- patchwork piece it together.  Your call- remember, there will be icing, and these babies will be cut.  Make it easy on yourself.

For me, the easy version was to roll out my dough, and then use a pizza cutter to cut it into thin strips.  Once I had my dough in thin strips, I created a loose basket weave type top for my bars that essentially made little squares.  Perfect, since I cut them anyway.  Once the top layer is on your apples, whip up that left over egg white with a fork, and brush it over the top layer.  This will create a beautiful golden color on your crust as it bakes. 




Pop it into the oven at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.  I’ve seen other recipes that say 400 degrees for 10 minutes and then 350 for the next 40 minutes.  That’s obnoxious.  Just put it in at 400 for 35 minutes.  They turn out perfect, I promise.

While they are baking, you can mix up your icing.  If you ask me, it’s not finished until it has icing, and this one is super easy.  Everyone likes their own thickness and consistency, and unfortunately, for you… I am like my mother in the sense that, I tend to throw some powdered sugar in a bowl and add water or sugar until I’m at the drizzling consistency that I want for whatever item I’m baking at the time.  But, a good rule of thumb for starting out is 1 tbsp of water with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla per cup of powdered sugar.  Like I said- it’s not an exact science to get it just the way you want it. 


Once your bars are done, and out of the oven, you can either wait to drizzle your icing, or just go for it and dive in.  I usually just dive in because I am not a patient person, especially when dessert is involved.  I take big spoonfuls and run the spoon back and forth to drizzle icing all over.  As the bars cool, the icing will harden up, and just be lovely.

 


Cut into servings as desired.  They are great just like this, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  They are also fantastic when warmed up for breakfast.  Be warned though- while it looks like a large tray of these, they’ll go quick!

Until next time,
Happy Eating
J

In my oven tonight: Crab Stuffed Tilapia- stay tuned for the recipe!

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