Even though the weather doesn’t feel like fall, it is the time of year when apple orchards fill with fans and cider starts lining the shelves.
According to the U.S. Apple Association, more than 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States. The largest apple ever picked, the organization said on its website, weighed three pounds.
It takes about 36 apples to make a gallon of cider. Regular-size apples, that is, not three pounders.
As proof that apples are good for you, consider this: The fruit contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol and are a good source of fiber.
Surprisingly, I also learned from the association website the apple is a member of the rose family. I guess a rose by that name wouldn’t just smell as sweet but also taste sweet.
While apples are great on their own, my favorite thing to do with them is bake with them.
Country Living published a list of the best cooking apples including Granny Smith, Fuji, Winesap, Honeycrisp, Calville Blanc D’Hivers, Jonamac, Red Delicious, Gala, Cortland and Empire.
But each apple was good for cooking different things. Some fit best for baking, others for cider, snacking or salads.
For today’s adventure, I used Gala applies, mainly because that was what was on sale at the grocery store.
Last week, I tried to will fall weather to come by making Apple Crisp Shortbread Bars.
The treat starts with a shortbread base which is simple to make. After everything mixes well, press the shortbread into the pan and bake.
While that’s baking, make the filling and topping. The recipe suggests thinly slicing the apples but you could chop them smaller after slicing so you don’t have really big pieces in each bite.
After adding the filling and topping you bake it again.
But it’s not a dish to serve to guests immediately.
The recipe suggests placing in the refrigerator for two hours after baking, which helps it keep a bar shape when sliced.
There’s just something about apples with cinnamon and nutmeg flavor that is comforting.
These treats are like eating a small square of apple pie or a crumble you can eat with your fingers.
They are good enough to eat on their own or with a side of ice cream. I like a big scoop of vanilla ice cream with most apple desserts.
Maybe if we all eat an apple or two, we can convince this weather to match the calendar.
Apple Crisp Shortbread Bars
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter – melted or room temperature to cut in.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and line an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Be sure to bring the parchment up the sides as it makes it easier to lift out later.
Shortbread: Place butter into your mixer and turn on high for five minutes or until the butter turns white rather than yellow, that’s how you’ll know it’s creamed. Next mix in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Once combined, add in the flour and stir well. Press the mixture into the parchment lined pan and bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.
Filling: In a bowl, combine the apples, flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg until the apples are well coated.
Topping: Mix flour and brown sugar. Cut in the butter and knead together.
Remove the crust from the oven and turn the heat up to 350 degrees. Sprinkle one half of the topping over the short bread, then layer the apples on top. You will have multiple layers so try to keep it level. Once this is finished, sprinkle the remainder of the topping evenly on top and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully before placing in the fridge to set for at least two hours. Once it’s set, remove from the baking dish by lifting out the parchment paper and cut into 16 squares.