These apple crisp bars are like the apple pie version of date squares with a buttery oat crumb base, an apple sauce layer in the middle, and topped with more of that buttery oat crumble on top.
I have been holding on to this recipe for apple squares for many months. These are very much like date squares with their crumbly oat base and topping, but instead of a date filling, they have an applesauce filling. Apples, brown sugar and oats are a killer combination and so, I do declare these bars fabulous.
Ingredients you need to make these
These apple crisp bars are easy to make but there are two components to this recipe, so it takes a little time.
- large flake oats, also known as rolled oats, provide texture to the crumble layer, which doubles as the bottom crust for these squares. Don't use minute oats or steel-cut oats for this recipe. These are not good substitutions for rolled oats, though the minute oats will likely work if that's all you've got.
- all-purpose flour is needed to bind all the ingredients together and give the bars structure. If you don't use enough flour, your bars will be too soft, and too much flour will make the crumble dry and powdery.
- brown sugar, light or dark, will add both sweetness and a molasses flavour that pairs nicely with the apple filling.
- butter—use unsalted or salted butter! Salted will work great and balance out the sweetness.
- cinnamon is optional, but pairs really nicely with apple desserts
- apple sauce—use unsweetened so you can control the sweetness of the apple filling
- cornstarch—as a thickener for the apple sauce so that you can slice and serve the bars more easily.
Adding cornstarch to the apple filling
The apple filling is thickened with cornstarch which helps to gel the extra water/juice in commercial apple sauce, which is sometimes quite "loose," and too wet for a filling like this. The cornstarch helps the filling set so that you can cut these bars once they've cooled.
How to tell when they are done baking
In case you are wondering how to check if the apple squares are done: the edges of the topping begin to separate from the pan (a telltale sign when most baked goods are done baking) and the topping was golden brown.
Apple Crisp Bars
- 125 grams bleached all-purpose flour
- 115 grams rolled oats (or large flake oats)
- 100 grams light brown sugar
- 115 grams unsalted butter melted
Apple filling ingredients
- 100 grams light brown sugar
- 45 mL cornstarch
- 2.5 mL ground cinnamon
- 500 grams unsweetened applesauce
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190 °C). Prepare an 8×8-inch square pan by lightly greasing it, and lining the base and sides with parchment paper. Set aside.
- To prepare the crumble mixture: In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, and light brown sugar. Add the melted butter and continue stirring until the mixture is evenly moistened with the wet ingredients and begins to clump. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the light brown sugar, the cornstarch and the cinnamon. Add the apple sauce and whisk well to combine and to be sure there are no lumps of cornstarch. Put the saucepan on a burner and heat over medium, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil, thickens and turns very glossy. Take the saucepan off the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Assembly & baking
- Sprinkle half the crumble mixture in the base of the lined pan, and using a flat-bottomed glass, press it firmly so that the crust is even. Be sure to get into the corners too. Top the crust with the apple mixture, smooth it out evenly, then sprinkle the rest of the crumble over top, patting it in gently just to secure it.
- Bake the squares for about 40 minutes or until the edges begin to recede and the top is golden.
- Let cool before cutting or it might be a little messy (but oh so good!).