Some of you know by now that I shoot all the photos on this blog by clambering into the window-balcony-laundry-drying structure in our little house. This means that neither I, nor the camera, nor the food are particularly safe. Cookies have in the past, slid down the grill, I recently dropped the lens cover down the same grill and don’t know how to get it back without breaking a limb, and while shooting these apple pie bars, the precariously positioned background fell right on to my neatly plated dessert and it turned into an unintentional apple crumble.
So, there may not be many photos, but there is still pie 😀
This is a shortcut, shortbread apple pie. Make a super, super quick pastry, press it into the pan, pre-bake a bit, top with sliced, spiced apples and ta daaaaaaa. I do plan to have one of those delicate, everything-must-be-cold, all-butter pies with a lattice crust and all that up for the festive season, but till then, have a piece of this won’t you?
The result is a buttery, crumbly ‘pie’ that has an astonishing amount of flavour considering how few and how basic its ingredients are. It is everything you love about apple pie, and I think this one doesn’t even need salted caramel, but there are no rules here, except that there MUST be vanilla ice cream. Must must must.
You have the option of pre-cooking the apple filling in a saucepan until its tender, which means a reduced baking time and a softer apples. But I personally like that some of the slices retain their crunch when they go in raw into the oven. Pre-baking the crust does ensure that it doesn’t get soggy, which is always a good thing, so definitely recommending this part. Very little should stop you from making this really, unless you don’t like pie, in which case I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.
- For the shortbread layer
- 100 gms butter (Just shy of ½ cup, salted is fine)
- 1 and ¼ cup regular / all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup caster sugar
- For the apple filling
- 4 small red apples
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
- ⅛ tsp clove powder
- Preheat the oven to 180 C and very lightly grease a square 8" baking pan.
- First, make the base. Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave or on low heat, ensuring it doesn't get too hot. Pour into the flour mixture and bring the dough together with a spatula. It should clump when pressed between your fingers. Press the dough down firmly into the tin, making sure it's even.* Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.
- Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Add them to a mixing bowl and toss with the sugar and spices. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Arrange the apple slices on the base, overlapping them as you go so that they all fit. Fit in any smaller bits amongst the larger slices.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the apples are tender. In the last few minutes of baking, cover the pan with foil so that the apples don't lose their moisture. Once baked, remove the foil and allow to cool for about 20 minutes before slicing.
- Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!
*If you like a super soft apple filling, cook the apples in a knob of butter along with the spices, in a small saucepan. You can then reduce the baking time to about 15 minutes.