Halgrimson: Apple pie bars a taste of pie without making crust

Our new apple tree is in its third or fourth year and is finally bearing enough fruit to make something delicious. I don't do pies so it's usually apple sauce for me.

Andrea Hunter Halgrimson
Andrea Hunter Halgrimson

Our new apple tree is in its third or fourth year and is finally bearing enough fruit to make something delicious. I don’t do pies so it’s usually apple sauce for me.
My father planted the first tree in our yard in 1976. It died a few years ago, and we bought another miniature Haralson to replace it. It only bears enough usable fruit every other year, but then it’s with a vengeance. Our tree is small – we didn’t need a ladder to harvest the fruit – and we got about two bushels, enough for us and some neighbors.
The Haralson variety was developed in the early 1920s at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Minnesota, and it is the parent of the Honeycrisp and Honeygold varieties.
Haralson apples are lovely for eating fresh, making sauces and baking pies. Refrigerated, they stay fresh for up to six months.
The apple pie bar recipe below does not have to have the rolled-out crust, which is what I do not like about making pies. But the bars taste similar to a real pie.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for four days or frozen for up to a month.
Apple pie bars

1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated white sugar
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
½ cup brown sugar
6 pounds (12 to 14) tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
½ tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
½ cup water, as necessary
3 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and chilled
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for the crust until light and fluffy. At low speed, beat in flour, spices and salt until a soft dough forms. Press dough over the bottom of prepared pan and ½ inch up the side in an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes or until the crust is golden and set. Let cool on a rack.
Meanwhile, prepare filling. In a very large, deep skillet melt butter with brown sugar. Add apples and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook until apples are caramelized and very tender and liquid has evaporated. Scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of pan and add up to ½ cup of water to the pan to prevent scorching. Let cool.
For the topping, mix oats with flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using fingers, squeeze butter into oats and sugar, and crumble together until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture into clumps.
Spread apple filling over crust. Scatter topping over apples, pressing lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the topping is golden. Rotate pan halfway through baking, and keep an eye on it to make sure top isn’t getting too brown.
Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.
Adapted from Food and Wine magazine

Related Topics: FOOD
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