apple pie bars? yes please!

i love autumn!  i know i’ve said it before, but its my all time favorite season and i love the flavors and colors that go along with it.  pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg… ahhhh.  it puts me in a good mood just thinking about it :)

a few weekends ago was the 50th anniversary of the oyhenart family in the united states, so my aunt planned what i began to call the “oyhenartextravaganza” for saturday night.  i had a free weekend before the craziness of concert week with the virginia belles, so i grabbed a train home and spent the weekend in fairfax.  when i got home, my mom informed me that we were responsible for bringing a main dish and a dessert– and that she didn’t want to cook either of them, so it was all up to me.  best news i’d heard in a long time!  i had free reign of our beautiful kitchen plus all the kitchen gadgets, so i was over the moon happy and ready to plan the meal.

for the main course, i made a beautiful chicken and merlot pot pie in a casserole dish and latticed the pie crust right on top.  it is a great make-ahead dish and we popped it in the warming drawer when we got to my aunt’s house and it was ready when we were!

but, the dessert was my crowning glory.  i had been looking around for fall apple recipes and found an awesome food blog with the recipe for “szarlotka“, or polish apple pie bars.  with a soft cakey bottom, a thick layer of roasted apples, and a crumble top– i was sold.  you’ll want to make these all year round, but they are absolutely perfect for autumn!

for the cake/biscuit base:
-1/2 c. butter
-1 1/4 c. sugar
-1 egg and 1 egg yolk
-1 1/4 c. flour
-1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
-1 tbsp. milk

this is a basic biscuit base, so cream the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer or a fork, add in the egg and egg yolk, and finally the milk.  mix until smooth and combined.  next, add the flour and baking powder (slowly) until everything is incorporated.  it should look like this:

here’s what you’ll need for the filling:
-8 granny smith apples
-2 tablespoons butter
-2 tablespoons sugar
-healthy dash of cinnamon

first, peel (painstakingly) and dice up all 8 granny smith apples.  its totally worth it, i promise!  your enormous pile of apples will look like this:

toss them in a large pan with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter and add the sugar and a large dash of cinnamon.  i like mine nice and cinnamony, so i added about a tablespoon.  but adjust this to your taste!  let the apples cook down on low, stirring a bunch, until the apples break down and get nice and soft.  here’s the before and after:

                       

and finally for the crumble:
-1 1/4 c. flour
-3/4 c. sugar
-1/2 c. butter
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp nutmeg
cube the butter (make sure its super cold!) and add the sugar, flour, and spices right on top in a bowl.  using your hands– yes, your hands!– combine all the ingredients together until the butter makes everything in to nice, big crumbles.  looks good, no?
and now for the assembly:  
line a large glass pan (i used a 9×13) with parchment paper (or spray it with non-stick spray) and spread the biscuit batter in the bottom.  take care to spread it all the way out to the edges and keep the batter in a nice even layer.  
 

bake off the bars in the oven for 45-60 minutes at 325 and let them cool completely before you cut them. if you don’t let them cool all the way (which, believe me, is difficult), then they won’t come out in one piece.  so let them set!  once they’re ready, use a sharp knife and slice out a perfect little square.  serve these with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream or just pick one up and pop it in your mouth! 
these were a big hit– i hope you enjoy them!