Let's put last week's Caramelized Apple Compote recipe to work, shall we? These Apple Crumble Bars with Oats and Rye are the perfect place to begin. Based on a recipe I did last year for Blueberry Rye Crumble Bars, I simply swapped out the blueberry filling for the caramelized apple compote and made a few small tweaks to the recipe. The result? A delicious and easy apple crumble bar that makes a perfect fall fika treat.
These Apple Crumble Bars with Oats and Rye are filled with simple, wholesome ingredients, many of which you are likely to have on hand:
- All-purpose and rye flour. On its own, rye flour can be difficult to work because it contains very little gluten. But when it is used in combination with all-purpose flour which provides the gluten needed for structure, the hearty flavor of the rye comes through and there is no need to worry that your bars won't hold together. If you don't have rye flour, you can always substitute more all-purpose flour instead.
- Old-fashioned rolled oats. What is a crumble bar without oats? They bring a craggy, crunchy wholesomeness to the crumble which perfectly offsets the rich apple filling.
- Unsalted butter. For richness and flavor.
- Dark brown sugar. For its sweetness and caramel notes. So delicious with apples.
- Vanilla extract. Because The Caramelized Apple Compote is quite flavorful on its own, this is the only additional flavoring I've added to the these crumble bars.
- Caramelized Apple Compote. This tasty homemade mixture of tart apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla is really the delicious heart of these crumble bars and elevates them from good to great. If you don't already have the compote on hand in the fridge, there is plenty of time to make it while the crust is baking on its own.
Crumble Bar Tips for Success
A few tips for ensuring that your Apple Crumble Bars with Oats and Rye are the best they can be:
- Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9 inch cake pan and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside the pan with enough length to hang over the sides. And then take the extra step of buttering the bottom and sides of the parchment (just a couple of inches up the sides is fine). Not only will this help ensure that your bars won’t stick, it creates a sling so that you can take the bars out of the pan before cutting them if you so choose. If you decide to take them out in one big piece using the sling, you must chill the bars for several hours in the fridge beforehand to make sure they are firm enough and won’t fall apart.
- After you pat the crust into the pan, press/slide the bottom of a metal measuring cup over the crust to even it out and ensure that it is packed tightly.
- Bake the crust on its own at a low temperature prior to adding the filling. This ensures a firm, crisp crust with no sogginess.
- Make sure your fruit to crust to crumble ratio is proportional. This recipe has a nice balance between the three components.
- Squeeze the crumble mixture together in your hand and break off into irregular sized pieces, about ¾ inch in diameter and smaller. This makes for a nice, craggy top.
- Once you have added the crumble topping to the pan, gently press down on it with the back of a spatula. This helps create an even bar and keeps the crumble from falling off once you are ready to cut and serve the bars.
- Do not skimp on the cooling/chilling time! If you try to cut into these while they are still warm, you will end up with something more like an apple crisp. The crust needs time to cool and set up. At the very least, wait until they have cooled to room temperature. Better yet, chill the bars for several hours in the fridge before slicing. That way you can use the parchment sling to easily remove them from the pan and they are delicious chilled.
- All of these components can be made in advance. Keep the crust in the freezer and the apple compote and crumble in the fridge for up to 24 hours before beginning the baking process.
I hope you give these Apple Crumble Bars with Oats and Rye a try sometime this apple season! They are delicious on their own, but if you really want to take them to the next level, a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside, maybe even a drizzle of Salted Caramel Sauce, is highly recommended. Need more apple recipes to get you through the fall season? Give these a try:
Apple Crumble Bars with Oats and Rye
For the Crust:
- ½ cup dark rye flour I like the Bob’s Red Mill brand
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Crumble:
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup rye flour
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
For the Filling:
- 2 cups Caramelized Apple Compote
- Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Butter a 9 x 9 inch cake pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the inside of the pan, with enough overhang so that the parchment covers the bottom and comes up and over the sides by a couple of inches creating a sling. Place the parchment inside the pan. Butter the bottom and up the sides of the parchment just a couple of inches.
- Combine flours, brown sugar and salt together in a work bowl of a food processor. Process until combined. Add melted butter and vanilla. Pulse until fully combined and the texture of wet sand.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Set the empty work bowl aside to use for the crumble (no need to rinse). Press dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan, using the bottom of a metal measuring cup to smooth it out and press it flat. Place the crust in the oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown and slightly firm to the touch.
- Meanwhile, make the crumble: Combine all ingredients except the butter in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined and oats are slightly broken up, approximately 5-7 pulses. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add melted butter. Stir with a fork to combine. Set aside.
- When the crust comes out of the oven, increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Spread the Apple Compote evenly over the top of the crust (a small offset spatula works really well here), taking care not to touch the hot pan.
- Squeeze some of the crumble mixture together in your hand. Tear off irregular-sized pieces of the crumble and scatter it in an even layer over the top of the apple filling. Crumble pieces should be ¾ inch in diameter or smaller. Repeat with remaining crumble. Press gently on the top of the crumble with the back of a spatula to create an even layer and help the crumble adhere together.
- Return the pan to the oven and bake for 50 minutes or until crumble topping is crisp and golden brown. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool slightly before placing in the fridge for a few hours to chill bars before slicing.
- Before serving, run a small knife along the inside edge of the pan. If you have chilled the bars in the fridge, gently lift the parchment paper sling and remove bars in one piece from the pan. Cut into squares and serve. If you have simply let the bars cool to room temperature without chilling, slice the bars right in the pan and serve.