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January 30, 2012 / Kate

Apple Pie Crumble Bars

Easier Than Pie

I really shouldn’t be allowed to use or even be somewhat near to knives. In truth, I shouldn’t be allowed to wear nice clothes and try to eat dinner without first donning a full bodysuit-style plastic bib, I should be patently forbidden from using anything sharp for anything other than purely ornamental purposes. And even then I should maintain a safe viewing distance.

I try not to feel badly about my near-crippling inability to wield a cutting utensil without mangling my extremities as I believe it’s genetic. Tales of my mother’s run-ins with knives while cooking are family legend. No one will forget the time when, at ten years old, I had to make chicken parmesan for 8 people in a 70s era countertop fry pan with a bad electrical connection because she spent the afternoon in the ER getting the end of her thumb sewn back on (amazingly, we were both successful). So familiar was her battle cry: “Wow! That’s a great knife! I didn’t even feel it cut me!” that we had it embroidered on a pillow.

Oh, the fun we’d poke at her after we’d fixed a proper tourniquet and stemmed the flow of blood. I used to freely join in the mockery, until I realized that I too was afflicted. Many times I have been grateful that evolution deemed fit to provide us with fingernails as they serve as tiny shields to thwart an errant blade or, at the very least, stop its determined progress through my finger. Over the years I have discovered many non-knife things with which to cut myself, my subconscious clearly bored with the obvious options. My favorite is the vegetable peeler. Nothing thrills like it skidding across the slippery surface of a shiny apple to take out a good portion of my finger. Afterwards I get to use an enormous quantity of curse words and my indispensable finger cots (or “finger condoms” as friends refer to them). Oh the fun!

So all this is why, when my niece asked me if we could make an apple pie type dessert this past weekend, I decided to make my life slightly safer by putting this recipe together as it involves far fewer apples (less cutting and peeling!). This is also why, after a moment of panic when I blurted out “Minnie! You need to peel and cut these apples!” The saner part of my brain sent the panic part to a time out, got out the finger cots and super glue and started cutting. Slowly. Carefully. You will be pleased to know, however, that the high risk of bodily harm only serves to ensure you will enjoy this dessert even more and it really is faster and easier to make than a full-on pie. Bon(d-Aid) Appetite!

APPLE PIE CRUMBLE BARS

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares (which is a great recipe!)

Apple Pie Filling

3 or 4 large baking apples, peeled, cored and diced (I like Braeburns and Gala)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix together sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice in a small bowl. In a medium saucepan combine apples and sugar mixture and toss until apples are thoroughly coated. Add lemon juice and cook apples on medium heat, stirring regularly until they are soft (but still hold their shape) and any liquids have thicken a bit (approx 15 minutes). Set aside to cool slightly.

Crust & Crumb Topping

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup oats

2 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix butter and brown sugar until well combined. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add oats and flour to butter/sugar mixture and mix to combine. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 12 inch pan. Spread apple filling evenly over the crust, drizzle maple syrup over the apple layer. Cover apple filling with remaining crumb topping, pressing lightly to set (very lightly!). Sprinkle cinnamon over the top if desired. Bake for 30 minutes; cool for 30 minutes. Can be served warm and with ice cream. And if you can find a way to cut it without using a knife we’d probably all be better off.

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