Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Some Assembly Required: Apple Crumb Bars

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Ingredients, or, Mis about to be placed...

Because I remember the apple pies of my childhood so vividly (and really, it's kind of unreal how good the smell of apples with cinnamon and sugar cooking is), I knew I wanted to make something related. After meeting Anita at the bake sale, I knew I wanted to finally try something from her book, Field Guide to Cookies. So I decided to make apple crumb bars. Because it's like a portable apple pie!

Okay, first thing: if I teach you nothing else today, get everything together before you begin. I really think I need to make myself huge sign called "GOT MIS EN PLACE?" because seriously, shenanigans occur otherwise.

Now, with a recipe that has three distinct components: brown sugar crust, apple topping, then the butter streusel... please do what I say and not what I do (er, did): measure out all your goodies, find all your equipment (dude, I got to use my stand mixer! It was so much fun!) Which leads me to point number 2... so if you learn nothing else besides what I taught you a second ago.

(Just go with it, people.)

Read the directions. Follow them. Love the directions. Because then you will add 3/4 of a cup of brown sugar... as opposed to using the 1/3 measure and adding a whole cup. Granted, this could have worked out worse, because I'm pretty sure the crust will taste awesome.

Okay. Lesson(s) learned. On to the recipe!

Apple Crumb Bars
(from Field Guide to Cookies by Anita Chu)


For filling:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large tart apples (about 1 3/4 total), peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar (don't forget what I said! 1/4 =/= 1/3!)
1 egg
For streusel:
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (er, didn't add these.)

Step 1: make the filling! Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add apples; saute until semi-soft, about 8 minutes. Add sugar, lemon juice, flour and cinnamon; stir to combine. Cook until mixture begins to bubble, then turn heat to low and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer to a bowl; let cool.

Step 2: make the crust! Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang to form handles for removing the bars after baking. Grease foil with cooking spray.
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer for several minutes, until light and fluffy. Add egg; mix to combine. Add flour mixture; combine well. Pour dough into prepared pan. Gently press dough into the bottom of the pan and about 1/4 inch up the sides, making sure dough is level. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. [Funny story: when you add too much brown sugar, the dough is way less.. well... doughy. Obviously. Hilariously, did not notice the brown sugar debacle until later. Oops?]

Step 3: make the streusel! Combine sugar, flour and salt; mix with electric mixer (or use food processor) until combined. Add butter; mix until crumbly and butter pieces are very small. Add walnuts; mix just to combine.

Step 4: assemble! Spread cooled filling over crust, leaving about 3/4 inch between the sides of the pan and the crust. Sprinkle streusel evenly over filling.

Step 5: the baking! Bake until top is golden, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack before removing from pan. Cut into 1-by-3-inch bars. Store lightly covered at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Yield: 3 dozen bars.

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