We have a jam problem. It's an easy problem to have if you do any preserving at all. Jams and preserves are the gateway to canning. They're easy and delicious, and as the seasons roll by you catch yourself saying, "Well, we're going to need to make a batch of strawberry jam" or "We can't go through blackberry season without putting up some preserves." This, my friends, is how it all begins. Innocently enough, and then you blink and your pantry is overflowing with jam.
We joined a canning club. Every month, we trade 5 jars of something we made for 5 different jars of things other people made. This has evened out our jam-to-pickle ratio a bit, but we're still at critical mass considering there are only two of us, and one of us doesn't even like sweet things at breakfast (traitor).
And we've maxxed out our contingent of friends who we can donate preserves to. In effect, we've not only filled up our own pantries with jam, but also those of most of our friends. Maybe I'm just imagining things, but when we go to a friend's house for dinner with a jar of something in hand, I think I can see a glint of dread in their eyes. It's like getting four sticks of lip balm every Christmas (and if you're a woman, you will probably get at least that many)--I love lip balm. It's really great. But I still have three from last time, and I'm just one person!
Thankfully, jam bars are a thing. And they work perfectly with almost any jam or preserve. I imagine they would work with jelly as well, but I haven't tried it yet. These apple pie bars are simple to make, and they have the buttery goodness of a pie but without all the rolling and crimping. I used half rye flour for my crust for a bit of nutty flavor (and because I can't leave well enough alone), but using just all-purpose works just as well. This would also be an excellent gluten free recipe since it involves a press-in crust and a streusel topping. Just use your favorite gluten free flour blend.
Apple Pie Bars
Makes twenty bars
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. Whisk together in a bowl or pulse together in a food processor:
2 cups all purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup spelt, rye, or buckwheat flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Cut in or pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add:
3 tablespoons cold water or milk
Knead or pulse until the dough begins to hold together. Press the dough into the baking pan and bake until barely firm in the center, 12 to 15 minutes. Spread over the hot crust:
1 1/2 cups apple butter
Whisk together in a bowl or pulse together in a food processor:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup spelt, rye, or buckwheat flour)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Cut in or pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in:
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
Beat together lightly:
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk or water
Stir into the flour mixture until the streusel is moistened and forms small clumps. Sprinkle the streusel over the apple butter. Bake until the streusel is nicely browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack.