Recipe: Apple Crumble Bars

When you don't want to make a whole pie but still want to fill that craving. 
A couple of weeks ago was Canadian Thanksgiving and my Tita (aunt) and her family went apple picking the day before. She gave us a whole lot of apples and I really wanted to make something of it. And since it's autumn already, this made for a very welcomed treat to have with this nice fall weather. 

Generally, I don't prefer apples as a fruit to eat fresh. Like if there were a fruit basket in front of me, I wouldn't pick up the apples. I just find it very starchy, it's hard to bite into, and well.... boring. I lean towards berries as my fresh fruit personal preference and selection. I'd only eat it apples fresh if I had some caramel to dip it in. But because we can cook apples, yesssssss. I'd definitely prefer eating baked or cooked apples altogether. So since I wanted to use these all up, and I didn't want to make a whole pie, I made some bars instead. I also especially like desserts with a crumble topping. So win-win! It was so much easier to eat as well. And the smell?? Well.... the kitchen smelled like Christmas morning. Cinnamon, sugar, butter, and flour. Hmmmm.....

Don't get me wrong, I LOOOOVVEEE pies. Especially when there's a nice and flaky top. That exciting feeling when you dig into a slice and the layers crumble and you have to pick them up. Yummm. I just wasn't in the mood to do some rolling. 

One day, I'll make apple pie and I'll share that with you too. For now, our bellies were satisfied with these bars. And yes.... making this was easy as pie. 😉

Apple Crumble Bars
This makes 9 bars, using a 9x9 square baking pan. You can also use a smaller 8x8 pyrex dish instead, it will be slightly thicker. 

You'll need a couple of bowls, a chopping board, knife, a skillet, a 9x9 square inch baking pan, a spatula, and some parchment paper. 

Shortbread Crust
1 stick of butter, unsalted and melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour 

Apple Filling 
2 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/8 tsp salt
4 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Crumble Topping 
1/2 stick of butter, cold
1 cup all-purpose flour 
2 tbsp brown sugar 
1/4 cup sugar 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 

1. Shortbread crust: Preheat oven to 380℉. Line the pan with parchment paper and set aside. Mix all the ingredients and press to the bottom of a 9x9 baking pan/Pyrex dish. Bake for 15 mins.

2. Filling: Peel and slice the apples and put in a bowl of water to stop from oxydizing. Over medium heat, cook the sliced apples in butter and add salt, cook til tender and liquid has reduced. Use a spatula when moving it around so it doesn't break apart. Add sugar and cinnamon, then add flour and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Set aside. Layer on top of crust and tap pan down. 

3. Crumble: Mix all the dry ingredients together (except the flour) and set aside. Using a fork or pastry cutter (or 2 knives), cut the butter to the flour until crumbly and add the rest of the dry ingredients and toss around to incorporate. Top over the filling in the pan. 

4. Bake for 30-35 mins at 350℉. Check if the crumble has browned, if not, broil for a few mins. Let this cool completely for 20-30 mins on your counter before slicing so it keeps intact and doesn’t break up.

5. Enjoy!!!! If you want, serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

*It's always better to use Granny Smith apples (or ones with higher acidity) because they hold their shape when they cook. Also because of their distinct tart flavour, it provides a good balance with the sweet and sugar components of the pie. 

**If you prefer a non-crumble topping, you can make a short-crust that's flaky and make a lattice (criss-cross like a diagonal window pane) instead. I just generally prefer a crumble. On that note, if you prefer oats to be incorporated in your crumble, reduce the flour to 3/4 cups and add 1/2 cup of rolled oats. 

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