I'm sorry I've been absent of late. My brain short-circuited when my daughter informed me that the wedding was only 45 days away. 45 days? How did that happen? I've had a year and a half to prepare and now I feel so unprepared. So much to do and so little time.
For some reason, way back early in the planning stages, we decided that it would be simpler and easier to hold the wedding in our back yard. Huh? Where was my brain? What was I thinking?
We spent most of last summer having the front and back yards landscaped. Now we're into filling in the landscaping with more plants and forever weeding. Cleaning, scraping, sanding, and painting the deck comes next. And in between are the innumerable details involved. Always more things to be done. Instead of getting shorter my to-do list is getting longer.
So if I don't post super regularly or don't make it to your site to leave a comment, please understand, I'm not being aloof or snotty. I'm probably balled up in a corner whimpering. This, too, shall pass, but in the meantime, please be patient with me.
Here's the post that I meant to get up for Mother's Day, but it also fits in with today's theme of stressed mother of the bride. When I got married my mother helped put together my wedding from out of state. She did all the invitations. She sent up her wedding dress for me to wear. She even encouraged me to spend money! All this with much less whining than I'm doing.
She just makes it all look so easy. Easy as pie. Which for her is true. She's a whiz at making pies.
Growing up, I didn't appreciate pies like I do now. They didn't have frosting, so they rated much lower in my book than cakes. But now that I have made a fair amount of pies, I'm amazed at the number of pies my mother made. When our apricot tree began to dump it's annual ton and a half of fruit, my mother would whip out pie after pie and put them in the freezer so we could feast on fresh apricot pie all winter. When apples were in season, she'd throw together an apple pie just to make my dad happy. And she made it look so easy.
So here is my late Mother's Day tribute to mom and her amazing pies. Apple pie bars. The taste of an apple pie without the fuss of a crust, because as much as I practice, pie crusts aren't as simple for me as they are for her. And I know she'll understand the post being late. She knows me pretty well by now.
Apple Pie Bars
- adapted from Great Cookies by Carole Walters
6 Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup medium-chopped toasted pecans
1- In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the apples with the brown sugar, lemon juice, and honey. Cover the pan for 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover when the apples have released their juices and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples have turned a golden brown and there is no liquid left in the pan, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2 - Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 deg. F. Line a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, pressing it smooth and snug in the corners and sides. Using a pastry brush, grease the bottom and sides with softened butter, taking care not to tear the foil.
3- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
4 - In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-low speed for about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix to blend. On low speed, add the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing only to combine after each addition. Divide the mixture into eight parts and place them in two rows down the length of the pan. With lightly floured hands, press the mixture evenly into the pan.
5- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the crust has turned golden brown and begins to release from the sides of the pan. While the crust is baking, prepare the streusel topping.
6- In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, granulated and brown sugars, cinnamon, and salt for the streusel topping. Mix briefly on low speed. Add the butter and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture is crumbly and barely holds together when squeezed gently. Stir in the pecans with a large rubber spatula or a large wooden spoon. Set aside.
7 - When the crust is done, immediately spread the cooked apples evenly over the hot crust. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the apples, pressing gently to help it adhere.
8 - Reduce the oven temperature to 350 deg. F. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned and crisp. Let rest in the pan for 2 to 3 hours before removing and slicing with a long, sharp knife. They will slice better if they are chilled.
To store the bars, refrigerate layered between sheets of wax paper for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.