Monday, September 12, 2011

Johnny Appleseed Squares


"Oh, The Lord's been good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need,
The sun and the rain and the apple seed,
The Lord's been good to me."
(Johnny Appleseed Hymn)

      Most school-age children in the United States have heard of Johnny Appleseed, the legendary American frontiersman who planted apple trees over large parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois from seeds recovered from cider mills. From all accounts he was quite an individual! So, while browsing through a copy of Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts, the recipe for these Johnny Appleseed Squares caught my eye. An apple for the teacher? Works for me.

     These bars were sweet, spicy, chewy and chunky and tasted like fall, if that's possible, and the thinly sliced apples sandwiched between the layers of spicy, chewy, chunky oatmeal made them wonderfully moist. The cake-like squares were delicious all by themselves, but I can just imagine how they'd taste topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and gooey caramel drizzled over the top.

     Maida says that she first tasted these bar type cookies at a "gift shop somewhere along the spectacular Skyline Drive in Virginia" and immediately requested the recipe. Skyline Drive, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, has been a fall destination for our family ever since I can remember. The colorful panoramas are breathtaking, and apples are plentiful. Jugs of sweet cider and jars of rich apple butter abound at orchard stands along the route. We haven't made our annual apple pilgrimage yet - we usually time it to coincide with the "peak" leaf color- but cool nights and crisp mornings tell me that I won't have too much longer to wait!


Johnny Appleseed Squares
from Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or mace
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
2/3 cup dark or light brown sugar, firmly packed (I used dark.)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 firm cooking apples (I used 2 large apples.)
1/2 cup toasted pecans, cut or broken into small/medium size pieces (optional)

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with foil, making sure the edges extend over the edges of the pan for easy removal. Butter foil then place the prepared pan in the freezer. (This makes it easier to spread a thin layer of dough in the pan.)
  • Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg or mace. Stir in the oats and sugar. In a small bowl, stir together the butter, egg, and vanilla and mix into the oat mixture.
  • Press half of the dough (1 cup) into the prepared pan. Set aside.
  • Place the remaining dough between two 12 inch lengths of wax paper and roll out into a 9-inch square. (It will be very thin.) Slide a flat cookie sheet under the dough and wax paper and transfer it to the freezer for a few minutes.
  • Meanwhile, peel, quarter and core the apples and cut each quarter lengthwise into 5 or 6 slices. (Not too thick.) Place the apple slices in rows, each slice slightly overlapping another, to cover the bottom layer of dough. Sprinkle with the nuts.
  • Remove the rolled-out square of dough from the freezer, peel off the top piece of paper, turn the dough over the apples. Remove the remaining paper and press down on the edges of the dough. 
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. About 10 minutes before the cake is done, if the top has not started to brown, raise the rack to a higher position.
  • Cool in the pan.  Lift cake out using the edges of the foil, and cut into squares or bars. (Maida says that chilling the cake makes it easier to cut neatly. She also adds that they freeze well.)

53 comments:

  1. These look incredible! I'm a huge fan of fruity, nutty slices or bars. I'm saving this recipe for sooner rather than later!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sweet, spicy, chewy and chunky you can count me in! Love the recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  3. They look great, and here I sit with a cup of coffee...:@)

    ReplyDelete
  4. You have stirred nice memories for me with this post. My grandfather had the uncanny knack of knowing just when the leaves would peak on the parkway and off we'd head to view them--and secure apples. That memory is what prompted an annual October visit to Roanoke for us sisters. I always come home with lots of apple!!

    Best,
    Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have never heard of this dessert before but I do love me some apples and who could resist a buttery, brown sugar and apple bite? They look amazing, something my whole family is going to love. Might even make one for my son's lunch

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ooo, these look like fun! I love Johnny Appleseed, actually, lol. I had to do a report on him in the 4th grade and since then have always been a number on fan of his. I definitely need to try these now! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love the name of your apple oatmeal bars and think these would make a lovely back to school teacher's gift as well as a lunch box treat for adults or children!
    I guess I'm ready for Fall, ready or not here it comes!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yum! Love the look of this apple dessert!

    ReplyDelete
  9. These have to be great...after all, the recipe was in Maida's book!!
    It certainly is that time of year again too. Apples start to shine. This looks fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  10. If Maida and you both love them they have to be excellent! They ingredients sound wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a great fall recipe with apples and oatmeal. I'll have to check out that cookbook. I heard of it but have never looked through it. Sounds delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Spicy and chewy? Perfect adjectives to go with apples. Good timing for this recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  13. If it has oatmeal it has to be good; what a great simple recipe; perfect for this time of the year.
    Rita

    ReplyDelete
  14. Maida's inspiration for this treat had your name all over it Betty. I really enjoyed reading about the area in Virginia that sounds very much like the routes I itch to take during my Fall getaways. Can't wait to go apple picking...and this recipe is a keeper ;o)

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

    ReplyDelete
  15. How fun are these! I love apple-y desserts and these are totally on my to-make list!

    ReplyDelete
  16. This looks good! Have not tried any of Maida Heatter's recipe before! Read about her though.
    The apple squares looks great for an anytime snack!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I never heard of this...but from the description I am sure that I would enjoyed.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week Betty :-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Those apple squares look earthy and tasty!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have to make these bars. I also agree with you and think food can taste like the seasons. When you cook a big pot of steamy stew I immediately think of snow.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lovely recipe and just perfect for this time of year - delicious
    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  21. Our family still sings the Johnny Appleseed grace at dinner. Your apple bars look delicious, and they must be good for you since they are made with fresh apples and nuts.
    Mimi

    ReplyDelete
  22. Haha we used to sing that Johnny Appleseed song at Girl Scouts :) These look so delicious and perfect for fall :)

    Sues

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love this time of year. We do our fall leaf viewing and apple picking in New Hampshire, but I would live to see Virginia this time of year; it must be beautiful. These bars look really great; I would love to try them:)

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is a perfect fall dessert. Johnny Appleseed brings back fun school day memories!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Mmmmm, a delicious fruity cookie right in the middle of September. Something I must try! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  26. This recipe is just perfect for fall! I used to live near Skyline Drive, and I miss those amazing views this time of year!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Mmm, appley desserts are always a real treat.

    ReplyDelete
  28. apples, cinnamon, and virginia--this recipe has a lot going for it! lovely post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. I just need a good cup of coffee and a couple of these squares-delicious!!!

    Velva

    ReplyDelete
  30. Such a wonderful and old recipe. Love the apples and the oats combo. Maida Heatter...wow! I think I still have a few recipes of hers. She really is from the "old school" along with Julia Child:DDD
    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I want to take a bite out of this right now! sounds just lovely!

    ReplyDelete
  32. I love your description of these bars! Apples are one of my favorite things about fall and these sound perfect to me!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I always smile when I see you on my blog reader. Your words and photographs are too good! And thank you for sharing this delicious recipe! I'm hungry again (we just finished dinner a couple of hours ago). Yummy..as always. Much love from Austin!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Delicious!! The whole family loved them. Topped them with some caramel apple butter and they were gone in a day.

    ReplyDelete
  35. i have been looking everywhere for an apple bar recipe...and now i have found it !!!!!

    love the name too...

    happy to stop by today and happy to see you at farmhouse kitchen

    kary and teddy
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  36. A great recipe with a nice story behind it, well done. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon,pa.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This is great for the fall season.

    We have just bought a miniature apple tree a few months back. Will bookmark this recipe and hope to have home-grown apples soon to cook with this great recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I just wanted to let you know that I made these two days ago...and am in love!

    ReplyDelete
  39. What a cute name. They sound delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  40. These do look and sound glorious, don't blame you for wanting to make these...wow!

    ReplyDelete
  41. mm i love the 'taste like fall' description. these look wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Happy fall to everyone. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon,pa

    ReplyDelete
  43. Maida is on my mind this week as well as apples, since we went to pick apples the other day.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Just mouthwatering...looks so easy to prepare and delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  45. These look amazing!!! I adore all apple desserts...and the addition of oatmeal make these even more enticing!! What a yummy way to usher in the season~

    ReplyDelete
  46. i went to gopher glen yesterday...for apples...to make these !!!!

    kary

    ReplyDelete
  47. Thought id stop by again, i really like this recipe. Richard from Amish Stories.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I've been looking for a new apple recipe and I know my family will enjoy this one. The combination of oats and nuts along with those wonderful spices sounds delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  49. These sound wonderful! I'd love one for breakfast right now : )

    ReplyDelete
  50. we're planning on going for a ride this weekend on Skyline Drive and your squares seems like the best snack to take with! Thanks for sharing Betty!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Gotta try these, look like a winning combination of fall thanks andi

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by scrambled hen fruit! I appreciate all of your comments and look forward to reading them.

Related Posts with Thumbnails