This weekend was relaxing and fun, complete with dinner at Urban Belly in Chicago (if you haven't tried them before, go. Like now. Their udon is perfection in a bowl). This morning, though, I woke up asking myself the same question I woke up asking myself on the morning after we returned from our honeymoon: what now? Since May, we've had so much to do, whether job searching, visiting family and friends, or packing up our bags and moving, but it's over now. We're back to normality, and though this is exactly what I've been wanting since we left Kansas, it's strange. Nice, but strange.
Of course, in typically predictable Nic fashion, when I didn't know what to do this afternoon, I baked. I know it's not officially autumn yet, but September in Chicago is chilly enough to convince this Virginia girl that it's time to break out the apples, cinnamon, and everything else that screams crunchy leaves and crisp breezes. This recipe is a jacked-up version of a recipe in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking . I changed the decidedly summery lemon berry filling to a fall-friendly apple one, added more cinnamon, and tweaked the crumb by adding almonds. If you're reading between the lines here, this is a very versatile bar that you could fill with pretty much anything to fit the season. I'm thinking a splash of cognac or a pinch of cloves would be great additions to the filling, but it's delicious as is.
Apple Almond Streusel Bars
1 1/2 cups AP flour 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 1 1/3 cups rolled oats (Not instant, please) 1/2 cup whole almonds 3/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
Apple Filling: 1/4 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar (more or less to taste, depending on the sweetness of your apples. I used fairly tart apples). 1 teaspoon cinnamon 2 tablespoons AP flour 2 medium-sized apples of your choice, peeled and chopped into small dice 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking pan, set aside.
2. In a food processor, pulse flour, brown sugar, oats, almonds,salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together until just combined. Add butter and pulse until crumb forms.
3. Reserve at least 1 cup of crumb mixture (I reserved about 1 1/3 cups). Place the rest of the crumb into the greased pan and press into an even layer. Bake until golden, about 10-15 minutes.
4. While the crust bakes, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour together. Add the apples and butter and gently toss until the apples are coated.
5. Spread the apples evenly across the baked crumb and sprinkle the reserved crumb across the apple filling. Bake 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool completely before serving.