One of the things that I love most about being a food blogger is sharing food memories, tips and traditions with you. See, I can connect almost anything to food. Now that we’re in the beginning of September, I’m thinking a lot about fall and remembering things like picking apples in New England and the chill in the air during those early fall days. The weather is warmer here in North Carolina, but those memories haven’t changed. So when I found myself thinking about apple picking, apple butter and other great apple recipes, I decided to share a little bit of a twist on an old favorite. After all, what’s better than apple pie? Portable apple pie! Yup, these apple pie bars are like portable apple pie. How can you go wrong with that?!?
The dough comes together really easily. All you have to do is combine the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, then cut the flour in until it’s the texture of small pebbles. The pastry cutter that I use is this one:
I like it because the large handle is easier on my hands. I have some joint and muscle issues in my hands, so on the tough days, I can still bake to my heart’s content. So, once you’ve pebble-ized the flour and butter mix, you pour in the milk and egg yolk. Mix it all together, then add a little bit more flour if it needs it just to make the dough stiff enough to roll out. You want just enough flour to keep it from sticking to everything. And, by rolling it out between sheets of parchment paper, you don’t have to worry about the sticky mess on the counter OR being able to move it easily. It transfers super-easy and you just have to peel the parchment away.
If you want a really quick and easy version of this recipe, you can make it in a single pan. A jelly roll pan is a great choice because the sides are high enough to hold up to it. I made mine in two smaller square pans because I wanted to make one batch with some chopped pecans in it and I knew that my nut-averse family wouldn’t be happy with me. I like the texture of the pecans with the apple, and they are just one of those things I always crave in the early fall.
I will tell you that if you’ve ever looked at a recipe like this and thought “No way. I can’t make pie crust,”…THIS is the recipe for you. It’s not your traditional pie crust, and it isn’t nearly as temperamental. However, if you decide that you’re still not ready to tackle it, you can just skip the dough part and use refrigerated pie crust. Easy peasy. But in all honesty, this recipe turns out perfectly flaky and crispy and yummy…and it’s super easy to do!
- If you want to turn this into a sweet dessert, create a glaze from a cup of powdered sugar, a little bit of cinnamon, vanilla and milk. Drizzle it over the bars when they’re still warm.
- It’s equally delicious served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream.
- I use an apple corer/slicer that produces 8 slices, then cut those slices by hand into threes, getting roughly 24 slices per apple.
- To keep your apples from browning, you can either mix a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice into a bowl of ice water or add a tablespoon of citric acid per cup of water. I keep citric acid on hand for candies, so I use that when I don’t have any lemons.
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, soft
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 egg yolk (reserve the white for later)
- ⅔ cup milk
- 9 medium-sized apples, cored, peeled and sliced (opt for slightly tart apples)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅓ cup chopped pecans, optional
- Combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter.
- Cut together using a pastry cutter or forks until the mixture resembles small pebbles.
- Whisk together the milk and the egg yolk, then pour into the dry mixture.
- Stir to combine until the mixture forms a ball.
- Split the ball in half. If making two smaller pans, split it into quarters.
- Roll each portion of dough out between two sheets of parchment until it fits the pan that you’re working with.
- Line each baking pan with parchment paper so that there’s enough sticking up on the sides to lift the bars out of the pan when they’re done.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread the bottom layer of crust out on the pan.
- Layer the apples and pecans evenly onto the crust.
- Combine the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together and sprinkle ¾ of the mixture over the apples so that all of the apples are evenly coated.
- Place the top crust over the sugared apples, pressing the crust down so that it’s firmly in place.
- Whisk the reserved egg white until it’s foamy.
- Brush the top crust with the beaten egg white, then sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top.
- Bake the bars for 45 to 60 minutes, until the top crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly around the edges.
- Cool for about an hour, then cut into squares.