“And all at once Summer collapsed into Fall.”
I am ready for…fall leaves, cooler nights, pumpkin patches…heck, pumpkin beer and most of all apple picking. When I was little, my parents would take my brother and I to an apple orchard in East Lyme, Connecticut. We would cruise along on the Merritt Parkway bopping along to my parent’s favorite 50’s music station watching the colors of the trees change the more north we drove. I remember arriving to the orchard with the smell of apple cider donuts wafting in the air and the promise of apple cider at the end of our apple picking. Annually, I would gorge myself on fresh picked apples. I loved to pluck a little red and golden yellow Cortland or Gala gem off the tree branch and bite into the crisp skin and discover juicy fall in that apple. A full bag of fresh picked apples promised to become an apple pie that my dad would later bake….his only claim to fame in the kitchen. He would bake a juicy apple pie and slice up cheddar cheese to place on top after it came out of the oven wafting the cinnamon and apple aroma throughout our home.
I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I have not baked an apple pie in um….years. Well, we were living in Italy for the last 3 years and we were having cannoli and gelato galore. But, now that we are back here in New England, I am becoming better acquainted with butter and fruit again…and prepping comfort food to stay extra cozy. This past month I tried Apple Pie Bars - classic apple pie shaped in a new way. I love a dessert that makes plenty to share and easily portable and these are just that. I will be making these for our family’s Thanksgiving dessert served alongside vanilla bean ice cream sprinkled with cinnamon and sea salt. Yum!
Post Apple Picking Extravaganza….Apple Pie Bars!
Inspired by Ina Garten
Visit the Food Network website for Ina Garten’s full 9 x13 Apple Pie Bar recipe.
I have halved this original recipe in a 7x11 with great results as well as used all Macintosh apples. Below is the modified recipe for the smaller 7 x 11 pan. Don't forget to line your pan with parchment paper.
For the crust:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the apple filling:
1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, or MacIntosh apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 large)
1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
Sprinkle of Newport Sea Salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
For the crust, place the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and creamy. Sift the flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter-sugar mixture, beating until combined. Scatter two-thirds of the dough in clumps in a 7x11-inch baking pan and press it lightly with floured hands on the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, put the mixing bowl with the remaining dough back on the mixer, add the cinnamon, and mix on low speed to combine. Set aside.
Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.
For the filling, combine the apples and lemon juice in a very large bowl. Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. Melt the butter in a large (10-inch-diameter) pot, add the apples, and simmer over medium to medium-low heat, stirring often, for 12 to 15 minutes, until the apples are tender and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Spread the apples evenly over the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border.
Pinch medium pieces of the remaining dough with your fingers and drop them evenly on top of the apples (they will not be covered). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is browned. Sprinkle with Newport Sea Salt. Cool completely and cut into bars.
Enjoy Fall friends!