Sweet Stuff

Apple Crumble Bars

The leaves are beginning to change here–their color giving way to burnt reds, golden yellows and various shades of copper.  I stand at my kitchen window and watch them blow across my yard, nestling into the crevices of tree trunks and the tangles of my wilting hosta plants before being whisked away in the autumn wind, which is strong today.  It is rainy, and everything is glossed with the damp, and dark.

I wrap my sweater a little tighter around me before turning back to my kitchen counter where I have five tiny red apples lined up in a neat row. I reach for my paring knife and begin slowly whittling away at their shiny peels.

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It has been awhile since I have baked anything, and I find myself clumsy and rushed as I spoon the flour into a measuring cup, evening its top with a butter knife.  Frank Sinatra is quietly playing in the background, and I reach for the volume to turn it up.  (Every kitchen has a soundtrack, and Frankie, you will find, dominates mine.)  The steady buh, buh, buhh of “Just in Time” calms my hands, and I relax into the comfort of my mixing bowls, spoons, and spatulas as my tiny kitchen warms with the preheating oven.

Apple Crumble Bars

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Ingredients:

Crust and Crumble:

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 c. unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Apple Filling:

  • 4-5 small apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter a 9 x 13″ pan and line with parchment so there is overhang on two sides.  Set aside.

Prepare crust and crumble: Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Mix on low to combine.  Gradually add in butter cubes and mix until combined.  Add egg, and continue to mix until the mixture begins to resemble a damp sand and butter chunks are pea-sized.

Transfer half of mixture to the bottom of your prepared pan, and pat down firmly with you fingers.  Transfer pan and remaining crumble mixture to the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the apple filling.

Prepare apple filling: place prepared apples in a large bowl, toss with lemon juice.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugars, salt, and spices.  Sprinkle flour mixture over apples, and toss to coat.

Remove crust and reserved crumble from refrigerator.  Evenly spread apple filling over crust, then crumble remaining dough evenly over the top.

Bake for 40-45 minutes on the middle rack, or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool before cutting.

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