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Close up of apple pie crumb bar on a metal cake server. Pink background with more bars.

Apple Crumble Bars

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5 from 1 review

Sometimes an old-fashioned apple dessert with a twist is all we need. This recipe has a simple shortbread base topped by apple slices, and a buttery sweet crumb topping that contrasts well and makes it a crowd-pleaser! It can be frozen after it's baked or most of the components made ahead to make your life easier. 

  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 12 squares

Ingredients

Units

For the shortbread base:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

For the apples:

  • 5 cups (about 5 medium/large) granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup white or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

For the crumble:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced and cold
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar

Instructions

For the shortbread base:

  1. With a wooden spoon or electric hand mixer on low, cream butter with sugar until smooth.
  2. Add salt and flour in two parts, combining well. Do not overmix. It will be crumbly.
  3. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and pat the dough evenly on the bottom. Lightly flour the tips of your fingers if needed to do this. Be sure all surface is covered as evenly as possible.
  4. Prick the bottom with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until it’s dry and starts to color lightly. Reserve.

For the crumble:

  1. Mix flour and sugars in a medium bowl.
  2. Add butter pieces and integrate them with a fork, a pastry cutter, or your hands (my choice).
  3. Keep refrigerated.

For the apples:

  1. Peel and core the washed apples.
  2. Cut in half and then in half again to have 4 wedges. Remove the seeds together with the hard center parts.
  3. Slice with a kitchen knife and transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top and drizzle with lemon juice. 

To assemble:

  1. Top the crust with the apple mixture, spreading to cover it all. It will be a lot of apples, but they will shrink during baking. 
  2. Add the crumble evenly on top of the apples.
  3. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden and the apples can be easily pierced with a knife.
  4. Let cool on a wire rack.
  5. Serve at room temperature or warm with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream

Notes

  • Apples: peel and cut at the last minute to avoid them turning brown as much as you can. Use a mandoline for very thin slices (like the ones in this post), or a kitchen knife to cut thicker ones.
  • Make-ahead: both the base and the crumble can be made ahead and frozen for a month or kept in the fridge for a week.
  • Flavorings: use other spices and/or citrus zest to change the flavor a little.
  • Serving: at room temperature they are great, but warm with a dollop of cream (straight from the container or whipped) is the best way. A scoop of vanilla ice cream also works, of course.
  • Storing: if not eating the day they are baked, store these apple bars covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Freezing: they can be frozen after being baked, well covered. To eat, let them come to room temperature or warm in a low oven. But I prefer to make the shortbread base and crumble ahead and have them frozen. And then only have the apple layer to make from scratch the day I bake.
  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/12
  • Calories: 313
  • Sugar: 23.6 g
  • Sodium: 18.7 mg
  • Fat: 15.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 41.7 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 2.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 40.7 mg