CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Apple Bars

It’s still many months until home-grown apples will be ready for pies, crisps and the like, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook tasty recipes that feature the main ingredient of the aforementioned desserts.

That’s what I did yesterday, pulling a 4- to 6-cup bag of cored, peeled and sliced apples out of the freezer to make a tasty 9-by-13-inch pan of apple bars, which were shared with a group of friends that got together for a meal last night.

The recipe came from the “100th Anniversary Cookbook ― a Century of Grace,” which was published in 1990 by Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in my hometown of Crookston, Minn. (The author of the recipe was Jamie Abrahamson.)

The cookbook, one of many given to me by my late mother, Lilah, is among my favorites. Like many other church cookbooks, it features recipes that many of us grew up with and are the kind that might best be described as comfort food.

Mom, who was a devout Catholic, counted many people of several denominations as good friends. And it’s because of those friendships that she became the owner of many nice church cookbooks, all loaded with great recipes.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that no one group has the corner on good food.

Thanks, Mom!

Norwegian Apple Bars
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2½ cups flour
1½ cups sugar
4 large apples, peeled and grated or sliced
Powdered sugar frosting (recipe follows)
Cream butter, sugar and eggs together. Sift flour and baking powder together thoroughly. Add to butter mixture. Spread half of dough in a 9-by-13-inch pan, lightly greased. Over this spread the apples and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Dot rest of dough over apples. Bake for 45 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. As soon as pan is removed from oven, spread powdered sugar frosting on top. Cut into bars when cool.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
In a medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk.
Gradually beat in just enough of the remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.
Note: This will frost a 9-by-13-inch cake generously or fills and frosts an 8- or 9-inch two-layer cake.

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