Crab apple pie bars don’t sound too bad at all was my reasoning for creating this recipe.
I’m a huge apple fan, and although crab apples are small, they are perfect for making pies and bars.
We have a pretty large crab apple tree in our backyard, as you’ll see from the photos below.
Let me show you how to make these easy crab apple pie bars.
Come And Get Your Free Crab Apples
Each year the tree gives us an abundance of crab apples that we hate to waste.
I often put an ad on Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace to pick your free crab apples.
If you don’t have a crab apple tree, ask friends or search online through Facebook community groups.
People come in droves for the free crab apples, and I always ask what they will make.
There are not too many recipes to make with crab apples, and if you’ve never tried one, they are tart.
I don’t mind munching on fresh crab apples picked from the tree as they are an excellent snack.
I have one pet peeve for preparing them for a recipe such as these crab apple pie bars.
The good news is I’ve mastered my crab apple chopping by cutting around the apple, leaving the core.
Crab Apples In Ontario, Canada
Although there are many varieties of crab apple trees around the world, only one is in Ontario.
The wild crabapple Malus coronaria is the only species of apple native to Ontario, where it is confined to southwestern Ontario (for more information see Natural Resources Canada factsheet).
Crabapple blossoms are important for many insects including bees. Larval and adult insects, mammals, and birds eat apples.
Crabapples tend to be sour but are still used to make jams and other condiments. Apple wood is good for cooking and smoke from it is a preferred flavouring for cheese and meat.Canadian Tours Crab Apple Trees
Common Crab Apple Recipes
Applewood is an excellent wood for firing up the charcoal grill with added flavours to whatever you BBQ.
I have gifted crab apple tree wood to our neighbour who uses a charcoal JR Kamado grill like the one we bought from Amazon Canada.
Once the flowers bloom on the crab apple tree, they brighten up the entire back corner of the garden.
Often we see bees and the birds inside the tree doing whatever they need to do.
We’ve lived in this house since 2009, and the tree has given us crab apples all but one year.
Typical Crab Apple Recipes
Some of the typical crab apple recipes I’ve made are pretty simple.
- Crab Apple Butter
- Crab Apple Jam we made when our homestay student from Spain stayed with us for a month.
- Crab Apple Spice Jelly (baby shower gifts, Christmas gifts)
- Cherry Rhubarb Crab Applesauce
- Crab Apple Vinegar (last year we did this but haven’t tried it yet but I’ll crack a bottle open today)
I’m not sure if I’d ever try this, but pickled crab apples are also another way to use or preserve them.
Why I Made Crab Apple Pie Bars
That’s why today I wanted to make crab apple pie bars which initially were supposed to be pie.
I’m not the best with pastry, and I’ll stick to bars judging by the homemade cherry pie I made yesterday.
The flavours are always on point, but I can never get a pie to look good.
By the way, that’s cinnamon on top. I dumped too much on and just spread it.
OMG… I don’t want to talk about it. It is a delicious pie, though. The cherry pie filling was easy to make.
However, I think I did pretty darn good with these crab apple pie bars, if I do say myself.
They are easy to make, remove and cut into presentable squares, unlike my cherry pie. Ha!
Alright, let me show you how I made my crab apple pie bars.
How To Make Shortbread For Crab Apple Pie Bars
- 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
Preparing The Shortbread Crust
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease and line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchement paper that hangs over the edges
- In a mixer add the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extra then mix until fluffy 3-5 minutes
- Add the dry ingredients flour and salt slowly to the butter mixture and mix just to combine
- Press the buttery crust dough into the bottom of the parchment lined baking pan.
- Use a spatula to make sure that the crust is even so it bakes evenly.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown
- Remove from oven to cool while you make your crab applesauce mixture.
Crab AppleSauce Filling Ingredients
- 6 cups of crab apples washed, cut removing any seeds but leaving the peel on.
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspsoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup of cold water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup cold water
Making The Crab Applesauce
- In a medium pot add the chopped crab apples with the skins on
- Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice, butter and vanilla extract
- In a small bowl add 1/4 cup cold water and xanthan gum or corn starch and mix
- Pour the mixture over top the apples in the pot then stir until combined
- Add another 1/4 cup of cold water over the apples
- Let the crab applesauce cook until the apples are tender for about 15-20 minutes stirring often
- If you feel that you need to add a bit more water then do so as it should have an apple sauce consistency. (see photos)
- Remove the crab apple mixture from the heat and using a potato masher squish the apples leaving it a bit chunky.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Oatmeal Topping Ingredients
Making The Oat Topping
- Add the large grain oats, flour and cubed cold butter into a large bowl and mix with your fingers until you have pea-sized chunks
Putting The Crab Apple Pie Bars Together
- Pour the crab applesauce mixture over the pre-baked shortbread base
- Spread evenly and then crumble the oat mixture over the top
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely
- Take the full pan of bars out once cooled using the sides of the parchment paper
- Cut into 20 small squares or larger depending on preference
I like to serve the crab apple pie bars with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce.
You can also add walnuts or pecans to the crab apple pie mixture or add them over the top when you serve.
Lastly, you can use crab apple sauce as a filling for a crab apple pie.
Perhaps now that you’ve tried this recipe, you will plant a crab apple tree or search for freebies in your community.