Our neighbor across the road, Shirley, made these Apple Pie Bars back when I was very young. They were an immediate hit with our family. We all loved apples and we loved apple pie, so why wouldn't we love Shirley's Apple Pie Bars?
Made with apples from that farm family's own orchards (they had two), she would make them in an enormous short rimmed baking pan. The crust was scrumptious and flaky, with a vanilla powdered sugar glaze drizzled over the top. Even the crumbs were considered delectable since there wasn't one corner of that pan of bars that went uneaten.
This is a recipe that’s been passed on too many of our relatives and friends, especially since Mom started making them for our Autumn dinners and other family events. As others made the bars, some of them created their own little tweaks according to their taste buds. Some would add more cinnamon for a stronger flavor, some would add pecan or butternuts rough chopped in with the apples. Others would change the drizzled frosting to a thin cream cheese frosting or add almond extract.
I’m sure Mom even thought about freezing bars ahead to save for a future dinner, but there were never any left over for freezing. That’s a sincere tribute to the original baker, whether it was Shirley or someone else in her family tree. In the end, all the newer versions of this fall sweet treat wouldn’t have tasted as delicious as they are without our wonderful neighbor’s recipe.
One change I’ve made is to make half a recipe for my hubby and me in a ¼ sheet pan. It doesn’t make sense to make and bake the larger pan just for two of us. Not that we wouldn’t enjoy it all, but that’s a lot for just two people.
The recipe below lists Paula Reds, Greenings or Wealthy apples as the ones to use. I believe these are the types Shirley’s family probably raised in their orchards. Today there are so many more apples that will adapt to apple pie making. Feel free to ask your apple producer for ideas on the types of apples that make tasty pies.
For this easy Apple Pie Bar recipe, begin with cleaning, coring, peeling and slicing the apples into chunks. While they are marinading in the sugar and cinnamon, you’ll mix and roll out the crust, making two crusts. (If you use a store bought pie crust as a shortcut, who am I to criticize? You'll need 4 store bought refrigerated crusts for a full recipe.)
Pour the crumbed corn flakes on the bottom crust which has been placed in the pan. Pour the apple mixture on top and place the other crust on top of the corn flakes. Crimp the edges together all around. Bake and drizzle the icing on top. There you have a large delicious and very easy to make Apple Pie Bar. Cut into smaller bars and serve with coffee, pumpkin latte or your favorite apple cider.
Corn Flakes are the Secret!
These are real bars to be eaten by hand. They are prepared and baked like a pie. But with the corn flakes placed under the apple mixture, as they cool, they set like a bar so you can pick them up in your hand to snack away. Or, place them on plates with ice cream and toppings and eat with a fork and spoon.
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees about 10 minutes before you’re ready to bake.
Prep your 12" x 17" jelly roll sized baking pan:
No need to grease the bottom or sides. I never do.
Gather up your Ingredients:
6-8 Apples, sliced (Paula Reds, Greenings or Wealthy)
1 ½ C Sugar
1 t Cinnamon, ground
2 ½ C Flour
3 T Sugar
1 t Salt
1 C Shortening, white Crisco
2 Egg yolks, beaten
About ½ C or less Milk (see directions below)
Layer on top of bottom crust:
1 ½ C Corn Flakes, crushed
Brush on the top crust:
2 Egg whites, beaten
Frosting for drizzling:
1 ½ C Sugar, powdered
1 T Butter, soft
Mix the apple filling:
In a medium bowl, stir together the chunked apples, sugar and cinnamon. Set aside to marinate.
Make the easy pie crust:
- Mix the flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, salt and shortening with a fork or pie crust cutter. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, enough milk to the two egg yolks to make a total of 2/3 cup. Whisk together.
- Add the egg mixture to the crust mixture and blend to combine.
- Divide in two and roll out on a cleaned and floured surface with a rolling pin. They should each end up to be a little larger than your jelly roll pan.
- Place one crust in the pan and press up the sides. The crust should overlap the rim of the pan.
- Pour and spread out the corn flake crumbs over the bottom crust. The crumbs will soak up any extra liquid the apples and sugar mixture has created. The last time I made this recipe, I was out of corn flakes, so I used the same amount of Rice Krispies crumbs. The substitution worked just fine. (They didn’t even snap, crackle or pop!)
- Spread the apple mixture over the corn flake crumbs so they are evenly distributed.
- Slightly dampen the edges of the bottom crust.
- Cover with the top crust.
- Press and crimp all four edges with a fork to seal the two crusts together. Trim off any excess crust with a sharp knife.
- Poke a few holes in the top crust with the fork to allow steam to escape during the baking process.
- Beat the two egg whites in a small bowl and spread over the top crust with a pastry brush. (You probably will not need all of the egg white, so it’s a good save as an addition for a breakfast omelet the next morning.)
- Bake at 350F degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown. I normally rotate the pan 180 degrees at the 25-minute mark. Depending on how wet the apple mixture is, sometimes I bake up to an extra 5 minutes to get the crust a nice golden brown.
- Take out of the oven and drizzle icing over the bars before they get too cool.
Ice Shirley’s Apple Pie Bars:
- In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar and soft butter.
- Add enough warm milk to make a thin icing.
- Drizzle over the warm apple pie bars.
- For Christmas sprinkle red and green sugars or sprinkles over the warm drizzled icing before it dries.
- I like to add a ¼ teaspoon of almond extract to the icing for a little bit different flavor on top.
- Sprinkle pecan halves over the icing adding a unique texture.
- Serve it up with caramel ice cream drizzled with more caramel and topped with a squirt of whipped cream.
- Sprinkle caramels around the base or even pumpkin flavored malted milk balls. Yum!
Try a half recipe!
For just my hubby and I, half of this recipe is just fine. Just cut every ingredient in half, (except I still use a couple extra apples) I use a 12" x 9" low rimmed pan.
I have so many wonderful memories with this recipe. First of all, eating them at the neighboring farm. Shirley would make them fresh for us after we’d been playing a tough game of softball in their backyard. Mom would make them every fall when the apples were abundant, making trips to orchards in the area. Gram would make them with butternuts (picked on her farm), adding a crunch to the bars. I’ve made them “hundreds of times” as has my sister. The recipe even made it into my sister’s cookbook at Christmas one year.
You just cannot miss with this easy recipe and the delicious tastes and textures in Shirley’s Apple Pie Bars. It’s a favorite in our family, and I’m sure in others, too. We've been making them for well over 50 years. However you make your apple bars or how you top them, “Bake your own Memories!”