Apple Crumble Bars

22 Nov

It is officially winter break and I’m completely lost.  I have nothing to do that is particularly urgent or time-consuming.  I’ve decided to see Anna Karenina tomorrow morning, but beyond that… I suppose I’ll be at the Art Institute a lot, and the library.  I just read a whole book in 4 hours. The next three weeks are going to be… challenging.

However, I have this blog, and many things I’d like to bake, and a gift card to Sur la Table, so this, at least, will keep me occupied.

They are everything apple pie should be and isn’t.  Because apple pie has two thin, measly layers of dough holding the warm, cinnamon-y apples together, but once you cut a slice out of the pie, the dough-to-fruit ratio is totally wonky.  Since these have crust on the bottom and a beautiful, thick crumble on top, you have a most excellent ratio where neither part overwhelms the other.

From the Milk and Cookies cookbook

Ingredients:

For the bars:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, light packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large apples, peeled, cored, cut into cubes or slices (I used Granny Smith, but I suppose you could use whatever apple you want)
  • 1/2 orange

For the crumble:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into cubes

Crumble time:

This makes enough to fill one jelly roll pan (ostensibly; mine fell short a few inches, but it wasn’t a big deal), so grease one of those, or parchment paper it.  Whatever makes you happy.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat the butter all on its lonesome for about 3 minutes, or until it’s light and creamy.  Then, add the half cup of brown sugar, beating until fluffy.

Add the egg and beat until just combined before adding the flour mixture and beating until well-incorporated.

I had a bit of trouble getting everything to combine, so I just stuck my hands in there.

 

Press into your prepared pan with your fingers, spreading it evenly until it’s about 1/8 inch thin.

 

Combine the cinnamon and sugar together.  I added crystallized ginger chips because I could.

 

Spread the apples in an even layer on top of the dough.  Squeeze the orange half over them and then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Now, make the crumble.

Combine all the dry ingredients.  Then, add the butter.

 

Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until you’ve got coarse crumbs.

 

Add the crumble on top of the apples.

 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown and the apples are bubbling underneath.

 

When it cools down, you’ll be able to slice it into neat little bars, like so.

 

 

Okay, excellent, book recommendation time.  I read this book called A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers last night.  The whole thing, in one go, totally devoured.  It was that good, but also I had nothing else to do…

My favorite thing about this book is that it starts out in pretty broken English, told from the point of view of a young Chinese woman who comes to England to study English at her parents’ behest.  Her English gradually improves over the course of the book, which is unbelievably masterful on the part of the writer, Guo Xiaolu.  It’s quite a lovely little book, though the plot is so much a plot as a slow-budding character study that gradually unfurls across many chapters and with more and more mature English.  The effect of the character’s changing grasp of the language is really something to experience, and it’s quite beautiful.

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