Fall is probably one of my most favorite times of years. Sure raking the leaves a million times is a pain in the butt and the rainy days suck but when it’s a really great Fall day, it’s awesome. That cool crispness in the air, the different squashes that make it into my kitchen (and tummy), hot chocolate, hoodies and a justified reason to wear sweatpants! LOL But also you have apples and lots of apple flavors. One of the few great things about living in countrybumpville is the fresh local farm apples. One fruit that is just simplistic and unpretentious in nature and truly so versatile. Obviously we use it in baking but for me I use it in savory dishes, in salads, on sandwiches and even as a condiment. Apple Onion Pork is AWESOME folks, trust me on this!
This time though I went classic…with a twist. I wanted apple pie but I didn’t want a traditional one. I wanted something portable and something with a little more depth. This recipe I have been making for eons. It’s one of my favorite crust/fruit combinations. This is great for a party as they can walk around with a piece of ‘pie’ in their hand if they want. Or you it’s perfect for a fancy schmancy dinner party with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
This crust is so tender and soft. It melts in your mouth and blends perfectly into the chunky apple filling. And that crumb topping (which is the same as your crust but left in crumble form) is …. . Now I love traditional apple pie that’s a mile high, with that flaky buttery crust but I’m telling you what I am seriously considering make this as my ‘apple pie’ for Thanksgiving. One it’s super easy to make and two, it’s friggen AMAZING in taste!
So let me dish about how I actually came up with this recipe. Years ago when I bought my first house I wanted to make an apple pie to take to my neighbor lady as a ‘thank you’ for welcoming me to the neighborhood. I, at that time, couldn’t make a pie crust to save my soul. It was dry or it would be tasteless. It wasn’t buttery, flaky… HA! Far from it! It was just yuck! Like those frozen pie crusts were better than mine. However with due diligence and perseverance I mastered the pie crust plus I had this little old baker grandma sit with me and show me how to make them proper. Once she taught me I was a pie makin’ fool.
However that grandma wasn’t in my life yet so I had to improvise. I wanted a pie-like crust but I wanted it to be hand held. As I mixed it together and make the first one it turned out beautiful BUT it was dry, like super dry and frankly, tasteless. So yeah, that got put aside and back to the drawing board. It took me 6 attempts to finally come to this end recipe that I have not changed at all since creating it. For me, it truly is one of the best crusts out there. For me the secrets to this crust is the addition of the egg AND cream. That made it. It almost cake it a cookie-like crumb but yet it tastes like pie crust.
So yes on my counter sat 5 non-serving worthy pans of this and one gorgeous pie! Needless to say I was stuck with a crap-ton of pies. So I cut them all up and took them to my family’s pizza shop. I was a hero as they ate very well and I I got all that crap out of my house. So the next day I went back to the store (to get more apples and ingredients) to make this for my neighbor. Once it was done, I grabbed the pan holding it with pot holders and walked it over to her. As she opened the door her eyes got as big as silver dollars. She was just beaming from ear to ear because someone took the time to say ‘thank you’ for her just being polite and doing a neighborly thing.
She invited me in for some hot tea and share a slice. In the cutest way ever she asked ‘what it was’. As I explained that it was a ‘walkable’ apple pie she gave me a funny look. She said “Oh honey apple pies are round.” LOL I chuckled and said “I know but I can’t yet quite make a great pie crust and I didn’t want to bring you something sub par. So I made apple pie as in bar form.”
As she cut it you could smell the warm spices. It’s funny because as she cut it I watched her face. Her eyes were beaming because someone cared and the little corners of her mouth formed laugh lines as she could barely contain her smile. She plated it as I poured our tea. As she dug her fork in I sat there and watched her; I wanted to see her reaction. When she bit down her eyes closed slowly and her closed-mouth smile got wider. I knew I struck gold. She raved over and over about it. She actually got on the phone and called another lady that I had not met to come over and try this.
That afternoon the 3 of us sat there for hours just talking. I learned about their lives, how long they lived there and just about the experiences they went through.
That afternoon I must have had 4 cups of tea and 2 pieces of this. For a couple years once a week I’d make a dessert for the 3 of us and take it to their houses to share. Their kids didn’t come around much so they adopted me as one of their own. In the winter since I had a 4×4 I would often have them call me up at 5am… on a Saturday… after I had a night out at the bar the night before asking me when I was going to the store and if I could pick them up a few things. Because apparently having a can of tomato soup at 5am is critical.
I didn’t mind because while I got to learn a lot about how the past used to be for them, they got to ‘live’ through me and what I was going through. Often they’d say how brave I was – single, a woman, supporting myself full time and a home owner. That that wasn’t how things were in their days. Sadly those ladies passed away and crappy/creepy people moved in. They didn’t get apple pies. Every time I make this I think of those sweet ladies and get a smile on my face. They epitomized how neighbors should be; warm and welcoming. Here where I live, we don’t get that. Hopefully in our next house we’ll have great neighbors. Heck I may just go meet them before we decide to buy a house. Nothing is worse than getting stuck next to sucky ones! I want pie-worthy neighbors!
Would you be my neighbor?Print
Short Bread Pie Crust
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 XL egg, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3 Tbl heavy cream (or can use half and half)
Apple Pie Filling
- 4 cups Gala apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks
- 4 Tbl butter, unsalted
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2–3 Tbl heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350 F, rack in the middle.
- In a bowl stir flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar together. Whisk together the egg, vanilla, cream, and butter. Pour the wet mixture into the flour and mix until the well moistened (like wet sand). Remove 1 cup of the mixture and set aside.
- Line either an 8×8” pan for thicker bars (glass if you have) or a 9×13” glass pan for thinner bars with parchment paper leaving a 1” overhang. Lightly spray.
- Press the remaining crust mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 9-11 minutes. When the crust is slightly golden brown remove it from the oven and set aside.
Make the Apple Pie Filling
- While the crust is baking, make the apple pie filling mixture. In a non-stick medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat, add in the butter. Once the butter starts to melt and foam, add in the brown sugar, apples, and cinnamon. Stir constantly to prevent sticking.
- Cook for 7-10 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly. Watch your heat as you do not want your syrup to burn. Once the apples are slightly soft, remove from the heat, add in vanilla and stir. The mixture may bubble.
Assemble and Bake
- Spread the apple pie filling evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumb topping over top and pop it back in the oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size pan you used). I used an 8×8 and it was ~21 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan.
- Make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar and cream. I like mine a little thicker so I go with about 2 Tbl of cream. Life the bars out of the pan by the parchment paper.
- Drizzle the glaze over top the bars then cut or cut the bars first, slightly separate them from one another and then drizzle the glaze over.