Excuse me while I talk about my underwear for a second here. Yesterday was one of those days where I showered and put on my clean underwear backwards. Not inside out. No. I literally put them on backwards. Like I had the front in the back, and the back in the front with the little tag sticking out. I am particularly amazed that I didn’t notice (feel) the difference. It took me a little while to realize what was going on down there. Weird.
Today was another one of those days, and though I was particularly proud that I managed to put my underwear on correctly, when it came time to make this recipe, I realized I had no more ground cinnamon in the cupboard (FAIL!), then, much to my horror, I forgot to add the maple syrup to the crumble, and in the end, I didn’t set the kitchen timer. I think it took me a good 15 minutes to realize the timer wasn’t ticking. And I only remembered the maple syrup when the squares were baking in the oven, and I went to put away the bottle. I had to grind a cinnamon stick to flavor the filling, thereby dirtying another kitchen appliance. I guess it’s been one of those weeks months. Let’s just call it a temporary funk.
I have been holding on to this recipe for many months, and much to my surprise, I didn’t forget to make it as soon as fall rolled in. These are very much like date squares with their crumbly oaty base and topping, but instead of a date filling, they have an applesauce filling. What’s not to love? Apples, brown sugar and oats are a killer combination and so, I do declare these bars fabulous.
In case you are wondering how I knew when the apple squares were done considering my failure to set the timer: the edges of the topping began to separate from the pan (a telltale sign when most things are done baking) and the topping was golden brown.
You are going to love these apple bars, which are like the apple pie version of date squares but better: an apple sauce filling between layers of oat crumble. These apple bars make an excellent dessert or snack.
- 115 grams rolled oats 1 1/4 cups
- 135 grams all-purpose flour 1 cup
- 100 grams light brown sugar 1/2 cup
- 115 grams unsalted butter 1/2 cup, melted
- 2 tbsp maple syrup optional since I made it without!
Apple filling ingredients
- 100 grams light brown sugar 1/2 cup
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 500 grams unsweetened applesauce 2 cups
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare an 8×8-inch square pan by lightly greasing it, and lining the base and sides with parchment paper. Set aside.
- To prepare the crumble mixture: In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, flour, and light brown sugar. Add the melted butter and maple syrup (if using) and continue stiring until the mixture is evenly moistened with the wet ingredients and begins to clump. Set aside.
- To prepare the apple filling: In a small saucepan, whisk together the light brown sugar, the corn starch and the cinnamon. Add the apple sauce and whisk well to combine and to be sure there are no lumps of cornstarch. Put the saucepan on a burner and heat over medium, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil, thickens and turns very glossy. Take the saucepan off the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- To assemble: Sprinkle half the crumble mixture in the base of the lined pan, and using a flat-bottomed glass, press it firmly so that the crust is even. Be sure to get into the corners too. Top the crust with the apple mixture, then sprinkle the rest of the crumble over top, patting it in gently just to secure it.
- Bake the squares for about 40 minutes or until the edges begin to recede and the top is golden.
- Let cool before cutting or it might be a little messy (but oh so good!).
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University.