This recipe comes from Judy Chorpenning, who for years worked tirelessly to provide wholesome food to my high school’s crew team when we traveled to regattas. She and other parents of crew team members would set up at tent at the race site and offer us cookies, granola, fruit, and crock pots of vegetable soup. For reasons I’m still unsure of—perhaps in the interest of our athletic performance—white sugar was barred form these foods. Thusly these apple bars, which include a touch of honey, are not terribly sweet, but it allows the flavor of the apples to really come through. Judy Chorpenning passed away a few years ago, but making these now helps me recall both her kindness and her baking skills.
4 to 5 medium apples (I like to use Granny Smith), peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour, or 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 cups quick oats
3 tablespoons wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan.
In a medium bowl, toss the chopped apples with the honey and cinnamon. Set aside.
To make the dough, combine the flour, oats, wheat germ, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour-oat mixture until well combined.
Press half of the mixture into the prepared pan. Top with all of the apple mixture, then crumble the remaining half of the dough over the apples. Press on the dough gently to compact it a little. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until lightly browned. Place pan on a wire rack and cool bars completely before cutting. Store, tightly covered, for up to 3 days. Makes about 2 dozen bars. *Note:* I buy old-fashioned oats, not quick oats. If you don't have quick oats around, just put an equal measure of old-fashioned oats in a food processor and pulse it a few times.