Monday, May 12, 2008

Apples to Apples

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

streusel topping:
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.


Sean said...

Grandma's good with pies? Huh, I can't recall actually ever having one - my memories of grandma's food are filled with oatmeal and tofu. They sound awesome though.

Good luck with the wedding prep! I'll be there soon to help out!

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

45 days away??? Eek!! Good luck with all the planning, Lynn!

What a lovely Mother's Day tribute - can't go wrong with a take on apple pie! Love the bars :0)

Brilynn said...

Mothers can always do things better and make them look easier, it's just the way it is!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Love the apple pie bar idea, they sound fantastic! Wow...45 days is not much time. But, you will get done what is important to get done. Enjoy it and don't stress out...or hide in a corner!

Big Boys Oven said...

OH! happy belated mother's day. your apple pie bars is amazing looking, I can sense the taste of cooked apple when I read your recipe, awesome!

RecipeGirl said...

They look quite yummy. Hope you had a good Mom's Day, and good luck with prepping the wedding. It will be beautiful, and having it in your backyard will create wonderful memories. Remember "Father of the Bride??"

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I would be panicking too, if it were me. So there is no sense in telling you to relax. Instead, I will tell you to start ordering people around. The key is delegation!
I am praying the Seattle weather will be beautiful for you all. Now...that is a difficult tricky job.
The apple slices sound wonderful.

Anonymous said...

What a yummy idea! Apple pie in a transportable bar form! Love it!!!

Peabody said...

Ah, 45 days till the wedding....such a fast moving time!
These apple bars are looking right up my alley.

grace said...

i'll gladly devour anything with qualities similar to apple pie. i've even been known to gnaw on an apple-pie-scented scratch-'n-sniff sticker...

seriously, these are sensational! happy belated mother's day, and best of luck with the continued wedding work!

LyB said...

My mom does a myriad of things better than me as well, I can't imagine my kids thinking that way about me though, I feel so bird-brained lately! Those apple bars look decidedly delicious, perfect for a crust-clutz like me! Happy wedding planning! :)

Sophie said...

Hehe, I used to feel the same way about cakes vs. pies when I was a kiddo, I didn't appreciate the natural sweetness of pies. Now it seems I'm a big fan of fruit cakes, though I'd take a pie any day :). Good luck with the wedding plans. I just got married a few months ago, my wedding was tiny, but the planning was still so stressful -- so I wish you and your daughter the best! :)

Debra said...

Perfect...I have some extra apples to use up! :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Having seen the product of you mother work, you are a glory for you mom. Happy Mother's Day. (see how late I am, so you needn't worry about late)
45 days, I know how it happened, I know there are nights when I go to bed sleep 4 hours but get up and it's two days later.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Lynn, those are some delicious bars - I loe baking with apples!

3 and a half years ago I was going through the same things your daughter is now. I wish her all the best in the world!

Anonymous said...

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Amy said...

These bars sound wonderful! I love streusel.

I bet the wedding will be absolutely beautiful!

Susan @ SGCC said...

A crust that I don't have to roll? This is my kind of "pie"! It really looks delicious. The perfect thing to go with my morning coffee!

Anonymous said...

Those bars are adorable! And 45 days - eep! Best of luck with the preparations!

Leslie said...

Oh yum..anything with apples and a crumb topping..they suck me right in! Thank you fo stopping by my site. Come back anytime!

Neen said...

My Mom called me about 3 weeks ago and, speaking at 500 words per minute, blurted out, "It seems like you'll someday going to want a real wedding and I don't know anything about them but I want to be helpful so I've subscribed to four wedding magazines including Martha Stewart Weddings. ... Is that okay?"

I then assured her that a Martha Stewart Wedding Magazine would make me look like the paragon of restrained sanity when that time comes.