Don’t adjust your monitors, this dessert does in fact look eerily similar to last week’s.
I almost didn’t make it for fear that it would appear that I didn’t actually update, but I had to make these.
Last Thursday was Pi Day. And on Pi Day you make pie.
And if you have a lot of folks to share with on Pi Day, making a standard sized pie is insufficient, and instead you must make an entire sheet of pie bars.
Which happen to look a lot like Spiced Oat and Pear Blondies.
Whatever, one cannot have too much baked fruit and oat streusel.
Are you familiar with Pi Day? Has that permeated through popular culture, or is it still just a weird thing that only math nerds care about?
In case you don’t know, Pi Day is based on the math symbol of pi, which represents a number that goes on infinitely, starting with the numbers 3.1415926…..
3.14 is like 3/14 which is like March 14th!
On Pi Day, you take great joy in the pun that is Pi/Pie and celebrate with awesome pies and lots and lots of numbers.
So for Pi Day last week, I couldn’t make cookies, or cupcakes, or brownies.
It had to be pie.
But as mentioned above, a single pie doesn’t really distribute well amongst a large group of people, so I needed a larger scale pie solution. The obvious answer was multiple pies, but I was short on time with only a post-work evening to put everything together.
The answer came to me, as it usually does via an internet search.
I had two options pop up over and over again. One was essentially a really big, sheet-sized apple pie, bottom and top crust and all. That seemed rather intimidating as pie crusts in general intimidate me, and a huge sheet pan sized crust… two of them… wasn’t really something I was excited for.
The other option cheated slightly with the crust by having more of a shortbready crust than pie crust, but it was jam packed full of apples and had a crumble topping.
And I am a sucker for a crumble topping.
So sorry for the oaty topped fruit bar recurrence, but I assure you that both treats are wonderful in their own ways and are not quite the same on the inside as they are on the outside.
And only one of them is valid for celebrating Pi Day.
Dutch Apple Pie Bars
Adapted from Food and Wine
I just had a standard large cookie sheet/jelly roll pan that was about 13×18 inches. I followed all the same instructions except I didn’t use quite all of the topping.
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 12 Granny Smith apples (about 6 pounds)—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup water, as necessary
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 3 cups quick-cooking oats
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
- Crust: Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 15-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the sheet and 1/2 inch up the side. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden. Let cool on a rack.
- Filling: In each of 2 large skillets, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with 1/4 cup of the light brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillets and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir half of the cinnamon and nutmeg into each skillet. Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillets and add up to 1/2 cup of water to each pan to prevent scorching. Let cool.
- Topping: Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop the walnuts. In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts and press the mixture into clumps.
- Assembly: Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.
NOTE: The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for up to a month.