Charred apple crumb squares

Few desserts really include a synonym for “burnt” in their name, and sadly, this isn’t one of them.  Foiled by my own hubris, burnt apple crumble. :[

This recipe is the last one that I plan to post from Good Housekeeping Brownies: favourite recipes for Blondies, Bars & Brownies, which as always is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

Good to know before you start: I did this recipe backwards.  You are supposed to cook the apple filling before baking the crust on its own.

It doesn’t matter if the apples brown.

I have read that 4 pounds of apples equals about 8-9 medium sized apples. I used 8 and that was not enough by far.  You’ll see why soon enough.

Time required: 3 hours

Yields: 24 pieces

Cost per square: $1.63

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $39.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • baking pan: 14½” x 10½”
  • tin foil
  • plastic wrap
  • apple peeler & corer
  • pastry blender

Crumb topping:

  • 1 C flour
  • ½ C butter (1 stick), softened
  • ½ C dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract

Crust:

  • 3 C flour
  • ⅓ C granulated white sugar
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • ¾ C cold butter (one and a half sticks)

Apple filling:

  • 4 lbs of tart apples
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • ¾ C dark seedless raisins
  • ½ C dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP powdered cornstarch
  • 2 lemons (need 3 TBSP fresh lemon juice)

Instructions:

Step 1 – Prepare topping: in a medium bowl combine all the ingredients with your hands.

I added the vanilla after the first 4 were combined.  Just pick it up and squish it through your hands, working all the ingredients into each other.

Ugh I hate touching stuff with my hands. That is why I fail at gardening.

Squash it into a ball-type shape, cover in plastic wrap, and chill.

Step 2 – Preheat oven to 191°C / 375°F.  Line baking pan with tin foil.  Grease foil.

Step 3 – In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and white sugar.  Use pastry blender to cut in butter.

Keep doing this tedious task until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Step 4 – Press mixture into prepared pan by hand and bake 20 min.  It’s normal for crust to crack.  Meanwhile!

Step 5 – Prepare apple filling; peel and core the apples, and cut each slice into thirds.  In a large skillet on Medium heat, cook: apples, raisins, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Stir often, this should take 25 min.  It’s done when the apples are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Step 6 – Mix the cornstarch and lemon juice, and stir that into the apple mix to thicken it up.

Step 7 – “Use spoon to spread the filling over hot crust”. Oh dear. How did the apples burn in the one minute it took to add the lemon juice? Oh my God. This is dreadful.

Step 8 – Why don’t I have enough apples!? I tried spreading it evenly, but it became obvious there wasn’t enough filling. I smoothed it back over to the side, figuring the naked part on the end will be a casualty of this experiment.

Step 9 – Take topping out of fridge, break into crumbs (??) and spread onto filling. Hmmmm. I’m betting it is not supposed to look like this.

Step 10 – Bake 40 minutes until topping is golden.

Cool completely in pan (1-2 hours) on wire rack.

Dear God… what kind of horror is this?

Step 11 – To serve, lift dessert out of pan, peel foil off. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut crosswise into 6 squares if you are feeling adventurous.

Verdict: The topping is burnt, and the filling is very burnt, in a not-so-subtle flavour I like to call “charred”. Who knew a dessert that smelled so good in the making could go so wrong? I had high hopes for this, you know, until it went to hell and all.

I think this definitely has potential, it would probably be really good if it hadn’t burned and if I understood how to crumble the topping to make it look presentable.

The disappointment of slaving over something that smells like apple pie, and ruining it, reminds me of this passage:

“I hope I never smell the smell of apples again!” said Fili. “My tub was full of it. To smell apples everlastingly when you can scarcely move and are cold and sick with hunger is maddening. I could eat anything in the wide world now, for hours on end – but not an apple.” – The Hobbit

Playlist: Sailor Moon Japanese soundtrack

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5 thoughts on “Charred apple crumb squares

  1. Nazlee says:

    It doesn’t look that bad, i would eat it 🙂

  2. […] have a few plans to make this turn out better than the first attempt at a fruit crumb bar was a burnt nightmare. I think I can get it right this […]

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