I know it’s a bit much to say that these are the best apple bars that exist in the world. But the truth is, I’ve never had better. These are the apple bars that I grew up with– the ones that my Mom made. I begged for these beauties throughout my childhood. And I haven’t found a better apple bar in the last 30 years.
This is almost identical to recipe that my Mom used– it still has the wonderful unique qualities that make these bars so good. There are crushed cornflakes on the bottom layer, which may sound a bit odd. But they add something amazing– something magical– to the texture of the bars. I wouldn’t say it’s a “crunch”, but whatever it is, it’s necessary. The meringue is still there, too. Meringue on apple bars isn’t standard, but on these it adds a little wow-factor in both appearance and texture. I sometimes increase the amount of meringue, because my daughter and I fancy it so much.
The one thing that I did change about the recipe is substituting butter for the shortening that my Mom used. I’ve actually made them both ways in order to see if using shortening was worth it (I don’t generally cook with shortening). I used a butter-flavored shortening for comparison, and while it did lack a bit in flavor, it also made for a sturdier crust. In the end, I decided that butter was the better option. The crust is still amazing, and I’d rather put good, quality butter into my kids’ diet than shortening. So, you can decide which route you want to go– either way will make an amazing apple bar.
A side note: I’ve been a mother for seven years as of yesterday. This sweet boy has brought so much joy to my life. He’s an old soul, a funny trickster, and has a huge heart. I’ve loved every day with him. Happy Birthday to our sweet Aanen!
The Recipe: The Best Apple Bars
For the Dough:
2 1/2 cups (11 7/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cubed (or coarsely grated, if frozen)
1 egg yolk in a measuring cup, then filled with milk to reach 2/3 cup total
For the Filling:
about 9 medium apples (or more), thickly sliced
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
1 cup coarsely crushed cornflakes
1-2 egg whites (depending upon how much meringue you like)
For the Icing:
about 1 cup powdered sugar
splash of milk
To Make the Dough: In a large bowl, whisk the flour, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and salt together. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until it is crumbly (it should resemble small peas). Then, use a fork to mix in the egg yolk and milk mixture. Mix until all of the dry ingredients are wet. Put the mixture onto a flour surface and knead a couple of times and divide into two. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours. (Follow these photos, if you feel the need for visual help.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel and slice the apples. You may need more or less apples depending upon the size of them. You’ll want enough apples to fill the pan to the top. In a medium bowl, toss the apples, cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of salt together.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one ball of dough out to fit into a 9 x 13 x 1 inch pan. It should hang over the edge just a bit. Sprinkle the crushed cornflakes onto the pan. Then top with the apples. Roll out the other ball of dough to fit on the top. Fold the two layers of dough together along the edge and then press together with a fork to prevent leaking. Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, or handheld, beat the egg white(s) until somewhat stiff. Gently place the egg whites on the top of the bars. This can be somewhat unruly and you may have to use your fingers. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown. Make sure the meringue doesn’t get too dark. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Mix the powdered sugar and milk together and drizzle over the bars. These bars are best eaten within the first two days. Store leftovers underneath a tea towel. Enjoy!
Thank you so much for stopping by Relishing It! Have a wonderful weekend.