Desserts/Treats

Simple Crab Apple Pie Bars

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 apple tree ready to be picked in Ontario, Canada.
Our Crab Apple Tree 2021 is loaded

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

Crab Apple Pie Bar on a dish with a fork
You can eat more than just one crab apple pie bar (cut them more significant than I did)

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.

Homemade Cherry Pie
Homemade Cherry Pie

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.

Homemade crab apple pie bars
Homemade Crab Apple Pie Bars

How To Make Shortbread For Crab Apple Pie Bars

how to make shortbread crust for bar recipes
Shortbread base for Crab Apple Pie Bars

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

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

Notes:

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.

Crab Apple Pie Bars

Crab apple recipes

Crab Apple Pie Bars are easy to make and in abundance around July and August. Find free crab apples from friends or neighbours who have a tree.

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • Shortbread Ingredients
  • 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
  • Crab Apple Sauce Filling Ingredients
  • 6 cups of crab apples washed, cut removing any seeds but leaving the peel on
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup of cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Oatmeal Topping Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cup of large grain oats
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cold cubed butter

Instructions

Preparing The Shortbread Crust

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment 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.

Making The Crab Apple Sauce

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 applesauce 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

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







Notes

I like to serve the crab apple pie bars with a scoop of
vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel saucecaramelsauce.

You can also add walnuts or pecans to the crab apple pie
mixture or add them over the top when you serve.



Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Perhaps now that you’ve tried this recipe, you will plant a crab apple tree or search for freebies in your community.

Simple Crab Apple Pie Bars

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2 Comments

  1. Just made these today and I have to leave a review. This is best use of crab apples! I also have way to many crab apples this year and I can only make so many jars of jelly and butter. I didn’t change a thing, absolutely yummy! I’ll be making more to freeze

    1. Hi Liz,
      I know what you mean about crab apples and having limited recipes to make with them. We had a loaded tree this season but, I’m the only one who would eat the jelly and ham. I like apple sauce that I made mixed with rhubarbEasy Rhubarb Cherry Applesauce from our garden. I agree with you that the bars are the best only because I have a sweet tooth. Hehe. Thanks for your lovely review. Mr.CBB

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