A lot of people say these Apple Pie Bars are better than apple pie! Two layers of crumb crust surround a ton of spiced apples. Plus, you can pick them up and eat them!
If you’ve ever been to San Diego, you’ll probably agree that it’s a little bit of a dreamy place… warm-ish weather all year long, palm trees gently swaying on the horizon, year-round Farmer’s Markets and herb gardens, lots of great beaches, and jaw-dropping sunsets.
The down-side to living in such a beautiful place is that we don’t really have much of a change in the seasons. The weather does cool down come October but not really more than about 10 or 20 degrees, and the leaves begin to fall off the trees but they don’t really turn the autumnal colors that you see in other areas of the country.
Luckily, we can drive just an hour to the local mountains of Julian to experience the change of seasons and pick apples along the way.
We look forward to our family’s annual apple-picking trip. My son marches around the orchard picking everything he can reach, and we come away with several pounds of apples that are fit for baking up a storm. A stop at the Pumpkin Farm on the way home adds to the fun.
Ride home discussion revolves around what Mom is going to make with all of those apples. My first apple baking project of the season was these Apple Pie Bars.
How to make Apple Pie Bars:
A spiced-up shortbread crust is pressed into the bottom of a 12×17-inch rimmed pan (a half sheet pan) & baked until golden.
It’s really pretty important that you use this particular pan for this recipe, so just pick one up or order one on Amazon if you don’t have one already. You’ll use it for baking cookies and all kinds of things!
6 pounds of apples are sautéed in butter, sugar and spices until lightly caramelized, then spooned onto the baked crust. That might sound like an awful lot of apples, but this recipe makes a lot of bars!
An oat topping is pressed on top.
The whole thing is baked until browned, and cut into bars when cool.
Hope you’re hungry, cause this recipe makes a whopping four dozen bars!
And these Apple Pie Bars truly taste just like apple pie. Eating these helps bring a bit of fall to an (otherwise) dreamy place to live.
If you’re looking for more fall dessert recipes, you might also enjoy my Maple Apple Tartlets. Soft Maple Sugar Cookies, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares and Apple Cider Cupcakes are also good fall sweet treats!
Apple Pie Bars
- 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated white sugar
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 6 pounds (about 12) Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup water (as necessary)
- 3 cups quick cooking oats
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1½ cups packed light brown sugar
- 1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
PREPARE THE CRUST:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. With an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour, spices and salt until a soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan and 1/2 inch up the side in an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and set. Let cool on a rack.
PREPARE THE FILLING:
- In a very large, deep skillet melt the butter with the brown sugar. (If you don't have a large skillet, divide between 2 skillets). Add the apples to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet and add up to ½ cup of water to the pan to prevent scorching. Let cool.
PREPARE THE TOPPING:
- In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using fingers (wash your hands and take off your rings first!), squeeze the butter into the oats and sugar and crumble together until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Press the mixture into clumps.
ASSEMBLE THE BARS:
- Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking, and keep an eye on it to make sure the top isn't getting too browned. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.
- *For this recipe, the 12x17-inch rimmed baking sheet (half sheet pan) is easiest to use. It fits perfectly in this pan. If you don't have this pan, you can try and wing it using a couple of smaller ones.
- *This recipe makes a large quantity. Make sure you have lots of people to feed
- *The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for up to a month.