Like any respectable quaint New England town, mine had an apple orchard nearby: the pick-your-own kind that boasted acres of fields that were filled with meticulously lined apple trees of every variety. There was a large converted barn that became the orchard store, selling apples by the bushel, homemade apple pies, and sticks of red and green rock candy. Signs were posted with charts and diagrams informing the lay-picker about the varieties of apples, and what one was supposed to do with that particular apple once it made its way home. Of course, there were pumpkin patches and hayrides, but the apple picking sticks out in my mind as the quintessential September weekend activity. Apples for baking strudel at home: check. Apples for after-school snacks: check. Apples for our teachers: check. It was there, at Blue Jay Orchards, that began my life-time love of apples.
My particular favorite is the Granny Smith, with it's cheerful green pigment, it's tart flavor, and the juicy crunch of the first bite. There are some health rules I don't always abide by, but when it comes to having “an apple a day,” I have no problem.
Even better for me when I can incorporate the delicious apples that stack up high in my kitchen into a recipe for something even tastier. The Apple Oatmeal Bars in the recipe below may not be quite as nutritious as a single Granny Smith, but the whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and oats add a healthful element. They are not a sweet or buttery bar, but cakey in texture. The apples are not really the star of the recipe, but the flavor does come through, and matched with the spices and the walnuts, the bars are a tasty and substantial treat.
Apple Oatmeal Bars
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. wheat germ
¾ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground allspice
2-3 large Granny Smith Apples
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup quick oats
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking pan
2. Peel and coarsely grate the apples, for approximately 1 cup. Toss with 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice.
3. Combine the butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a small bowl.
4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, and spices. Stir in the egg mixture. Fold in the apples, walnuts, and oats. Turn the batter into the prepared pan.
5. Bake about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.