“To step into Los Angeles’s Big Sugar Bakeshop is to enter a confectionery alt-universe,” F&W proclaimed about Mary Odson and Lisa Ritter’s innovative bakery in 2008. Cathy Odson, Mary’s sister, reinvents apple pie as a bar with a nutty, streusel-like topping and a crisp, buttery shortbread crust. It’s America’s iconic dessert, transformed into an even more indulgent snack.
Slideshow:Amazing Apple Desserts
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
How to Make It
Step 1 make the 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.
Step 2 make the 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.
Step 3 make the 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.
Step 4 make the topping
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.
The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for up to a month.
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