Apple Bars with Streusel Topping

My husband says that these homey, light, flaky, sweet bars are like a little piece of apple pie in a bar. To make these yummy bars, thinly slice tart apples such as Granny Smith, Macintosh, or Fuji, and arrange the slices over the crust. The thinner the slices, the better. I like to use mace, a relative to nutmeg, in my bars as the flavor reminds me of my grandma’s apple pie. For a delicious treat, serve these cookies with a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream. From my book, Ancient Heritage Cookies.

Apple Bars with Streusel Topping
Makes 16 bars

1 cup white whole-wheat flour (130 grams)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (90 grams)
1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar (55 grams)
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes (113 grams)
1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons sliced almonds (14 grams)
2 large tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick slices, (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
1/2 tablespoon white whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably ground roasted cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground mace, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas Mark 4. Line an 8- x 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two opposite edges. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Place parchment on top of foil. Lightly oil the parchment and the sides of the pan.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine 1 cup of flour, oats, brown sugar, and salt. Pulse 20 to 30 seconds. Add butter and water. Pulse about 1 minute, until the dough begins to gather together, and sticks together when pressed. Divide the dough mixture in half. Using a rubber spatula, press half of the dough evenly in the bottom of prepared pan. Using a fork, stir sliced almonds into the remaining dough. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine apples, sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of flour, and spices. With a large spoon, stir, thoroughly coating the apples with the sugar mixture. Arrange the apple slices evenly over the dough. Spread any sugary juices left in the bowl over the apple slices. With your fingers, sprinkle the remaining dough evenly on top of the apples, covering apple slices completely. Using a rubber spatula, press down firmly but gently. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven, place on cooling rack, and cool completely in pan. When ready to serve, using the foil overhang, lift the uncut bars from pan. Cut into 16 servings. Serve immediately.

Store bars in an airtight container, at room temperature or in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.

Baker’s Note: If you prefer a smooth top, omit the sliced almonds from the topping.