Sunday, December 13, 2015

Apple Pie Shortbread Crumb Bars

I woke up early today, when the frosty air was still quiet and the cloudy sky pale with morning light.  Still in my pajamas, I put on my warm things and shoveled the snow that fell last night.  It seemed that I was the first one awake on our street, and the shovel scraped loudly across the driveway, breaking the cold silence.

After a while, Jamie woke up and made coffee while I curled up under a blanket on the couch.  We toasted leftover pumpkin spice waffles for breakfast, and then bundled up to hang Christmas lights on the house.  He climbed the ladder while I uncurled strings of lights, handed him clips, and scraped the remaining ice from the driveway that started to thaw under the heat of the sun.  My fingers and toes were numb by the time we were finished, and after a hot shower, there was no agenda for the rest of the day but to watch Christmas movies and eat when we were hungry.  There was some sampling of cake at some point during the day, too, of course.

These apple pie bars, though, dare I say might be better than cake.  That is, if the thing you're wanting is pie and not cake.  The filling is cooked a day ahead, and the apples are coated in spices and sugar, with a hint of lemon.  The crust and topping is a simple shortbread, a mixture of just butter, flour, sugar and salt, pressed into a pan for the bottom crust, and sprinkled over the apples for a crumb topping.  They're perfect to take to a holiday party, or to enjoy at home with a second cup of hot coffee.  Or a third.

Apple Pie Shortbread Crumb Bars

  • 3 pounds apples
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Peel and core the apples, and slice 1/4 inch thick.  Toss the apples with the rest of the filling ingredients in a stock pot.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce to medium low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and the apples are slightly softened.  Cool completely.

Crust and Topping.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter,cut into pieces
Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a square 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.

In your food processor, combine the crust/topping ingredients until pea-sized pieces of butter remain.  Reserve 2 cups of the crumbs for the topping, and press the remainder of the crumbs firmly against the bottom of the baking dish.  Bake crust for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, then spread the prepared apple filling over the crust.  Sprinkle with the reserved crumb topping.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping is a pale golden brown.  Cool uncovered for several hours, then serve warm or at room temperature.  Best eaten within two days.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen