Apple Crumble Bars - made November 13, 2010 from Fearless Baking by Elinor Klivans (Book #11)
During holiday family gatherings, apple cobbler is a perennial favorite and requested by various family members. For Thanksgiving this year, my aunt and her family are joining us from Canada and one of my uncle's favorite desserts is apple cobbler. I have a recipe I normally use for cobbler so I wasn't really looking for a new one. However, when I tried this recipe for Apple Crumble Bars, although it's meant to be a "bar dessert", I saw the potential for cobbler so I made it in a serving dish and a ramekin. The ramekin was for the taste test so I wouldn't have to cut into it before I served it to some of my family. (Always a nice trick if you want to err on the side of caution and have a taste test before serving but can't cut into the serving dish itself.)
I have to say this recipe trumped my usual cobbler recipe. I used Granny Smith apples like I always do and this had the crumb topping similar to my cobbler. But what set this above the other one was the crumb topping also doubled as the bottom crust. Delicious. The sweetness of the crust and the crumb topping is a perfect foil for the tartness of the apples. Serve it warm with vanilla ice cream and you have a winner. I would also recommend this recipe for baking novices. The crust and topping are simple to put together - just cut the butter into the dry ingredients with 2 knives, reserve 2 cups for the topping and spread the rest in the bottom of your baking pan for the crust. There's no rolling of dough - you just pat the mixture evenly into the pan, top with the apple mixture and then scatter the crumb topping. Really very simple. The "hardest part" is really peeling and cutting the apples and even that's not hard.
I served this to my parents and our family members, my uncle Allan and my cousin Stephanie, from Missouri and they seemed to enjoy it. It's always a nice compliment when people not only have seconds but take the rest home with them :). In the pictures above, you'll notice there's still a little flour clinging to the sides - that's the part of the topping that didn't cook down over the apples. If you want something a bit more presentable, just brush those off before or after baking and before serving.
Crust and Topping
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
3 cups peeled and cored apples chopping into ½” pieces (about 3 large apples) (I ended up using 4 apples just to make sure there was enough)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (I used 1 1/2 tbps)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I used 1 1/2 tbps)
1 cup golden raisins, optional (I omitted the raisins)
1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with heavy aluminum foil that extends over 2 ends of the pan. Butter the foil that will touch the bars. (If you're not going to cut as bars, bake in a nice serving dish and omit the foil but lightly spray the bottom with nonstick cooking spray.)
2. Mix the flour, powdered sugar and brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the butter pieces, cutting them into the dry ingredients until they’re the size of peas and well-coated in the flour mixture. Remove 2 cups of the mixture and set aside. Transfer the remaining mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly over the bottom.
3. Mix the filling: Stir the apples, sugar and lemon juice together in a large bowl. Stir in the raisins, if using. Spoon the filling over the prepared crust, distributing it evenly. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs evenly over the apple filling.
4. Bake until the crumb topping is golden and the apples are soft when tested with a toothpick, about 55 minutes. Carefully lift the aluminum foil and bars from the baking pan. Loosen the foil from the sides of the bars. Cut into 12 to 16 pieces. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream, if desired.