Apple Crumble Bars - My All-Time Favorite Non-Chocolate Dessert

[Originally posted December 13, 2014]

I used to live in San Luis Obispo, Ca and there was this little coffee shop called Linnaea's and they served these amazing little apple bars. They were sort of like pie, but I don't really love pie. I've always been a no-budge chocolate cake for dessert person, but I took a chance one afternoon on these apple crumble bars and there was really no going back for me. I would go downtown just to have them, drink coffee, and spend the day people watching in their little window. When I moved away, I was determined to learn to make my own. I feel like the true fashion of my life is to go through dozens of options and then finally through some stroke of luck come upon the right answer.

But sadly, well, sad for the sake of story-telling, I came upon the perfect recipe the first time. It was pretty magical. Obviously, these crumble bars and I were meant to be. I found the recipe here, at Annie's Eats. It's pretty much the exact recipe, except I make mine in a 9 x 13 instead of an 8 x 8, because it's so popular whenever I make it. Well, the real reason may or may not be that I keep half for myself. I mean generosity is good and everything, but really you have to look out for number 1, right? By look out, I mean eat apple crumble bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Here's what you'll need:

Base Crust:

  • 2 + 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 4 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter

Filling:

  • 5 large apples - cored and peeled, an apple corer is a very useful tool in this scenario - I use Granny Smith Apples, they stay a bit crisp and tart through the whole process
  • 8 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons of corn starch
  • 3/4 cup of jam - This St. Dalfour Peach Jam is the best one I've used so far

Top Crust:

  • 1 cup of all purpose white flour
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 1 stick of butter

note: all your butter should be at room temperature. So, it's a good idea to take it out of the fridge a while before you plan to start baking. 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325Β°

Start with the base:

  • Mix up your 2 cups of flour, sugar, and salt, until well mixed. Mix in butter. Since it's a crumble crust it will never get really soft and sticky like cookie dough. It'll be very flour-y and crumbly. So, I usually start mixing with a wooden spoon and then switch to mixing with my hands. Once you've got it well mixed, take your 1/2 cup of flour and sift it in until it gets really crumbly. 
  • Place the crust to set in the oven for 10-12 minutes. 

Filling:

  • While the crust is baking place your apples, sugar, and cinnamon in a large skillet on the stove on medium heat for about 7 minutes, more if you like softer apples. Make sure there's enough room to stir your apples and get them covered in the cinnamon mix. 
  • In a separate container mix up lemon juice with the cornstarch.
  • Once your filling is ready to come off the stove mix in the lemon/cornstarch mixture while it's still hot. Set aside until you're ready to take the crust out of the oven.
  • When the crust is done, and lightly brown at the edges, spread the jam over while it's still warm, so it spreads easier.

Top crust:

  • Making the top crust is just as simple, just mix in butter, flour, and sugar into a crumble.  This mixture can be a bit softer and stickier than the crumbly crust, because it will melt a little over the apples.
  • Put apple filling over the jam and top with the crumble topping, distributing it evenly.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust has slightly browned.

You're really going to want to wait to cut this until it's cooled, because otherwise the crust with kind of be a slippery mess, you may wonder where it's gone. If you're in a hurry to try it, place it in the freezer for 20 minutes, to help it cool a bit faster. You can always heat it up a bit later. 

I hope you love it as much as I do, although I'm not sure that's possible.