Butter … sour cream … apples … brandy.

How can you possibly go wrong?

The answer is:  you cannot! Lucky for me I noticed that we had some Granny Smith apples languishing in our fruit basket. While I love apples, especially Granny Smith apples, I knew those little gems were doomed to turn old and gray before anybody ate them. I could not let that happen!

So I hauled myself over to my overburdened bookshelf (which has been creaking dangerously of late), and I began to leaf through the many volumes of inspiration.

Sour cream apple pie? Apple turnovers? Applesauce with a swirl of sour cream? Hmmm … they all sounded delicious, but not quite what I was looking for.

And then my eyes fell on Tish Boyle’s The Good Cookie and I immediately thought of two things:  Tish’s book is the Cream Puffs in Venice "Flavour of the Month" for January 2006 and I have yet to post about it; and Sour Cream Apple Crumble Bars.

First things first. One of the many reasons I started this blog was that I wanted the chance to finally start using all those cookbooks that I’ve accumulated over the years. So I created the Cream Puffs in Venice "Flavour of the Month" to help me focus on one book at a time. For the month of January 2006, I chose The Good Cookie, but I have yet to post anything about this lovely book.

Published in 2002, this book is an excellent guide to baking some very unique cookies. There are over 250 recipes, most of which are fairly straightforward. The Brandied Eggnog Cookies have become a family classic, and the White Chocolate Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies have become my personal favourite (I’ll post about these cookies at a later date).

So with this book in hand, I realized that there was a recipe that I’d been meaning to try but hadn’tPic_2_for_blog  gotten around to. And wouldn’t you know it you needed Granny Smith apples! Tish’s recipe for Sour Cream Apple Crumble Bars is reminiscent of so many comforting apple desserts:  apple pie, apple crisp, apple crumble and the list goes on!

I found the recipe very easy to follow and the results were, as always, delicious! The buttery and delicate pastry crust is the perfect support for those luscious, caramelly apples with the faint hint of brandy. I did make a few adjustments here and there to suit my own tastes. Namely I used more Granny Smith apples than the original recipe required. I also increased the amount of some ingredients like the lemon juice and the brandy (one can never have too much brandy). Feel free to adapt the recipe to your own tastes … ahh … the joy of cooking!

You’ve heard the saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," right?

Well no one ever said how to eat that apple. So I say, "Eat your Sour Cream Apple Crumble Bars." They’re good for you!


Sour Cream Apple Crumble Bars

adapted from The Good Cookie.

Sweet Pastry Crust

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 to 4 tsp. cold water (the original recipe requires 2 tsp. but I needed more than that for the dough)
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the centre of the oven. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, mix together flour, sugar and salt. Mix until well blended. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture and process until the mixture resembles coarse oatmeal, 6 to 10 seconds.
  3. Whisk together the egg yolk, water and vanilla extract. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture through the feed tube with the food processor running. Mix until the dough begins to come together, 15 to 20 seconds. (I had to add some more water as the mixture was still a bit dry.)
  4. Scrape the dough out of the food processor bowl and into the prepared pan. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, pat the dough into an even layer. Bake until the crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely.

Apple Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (4 to 5 medium)Pic_3_for_blog
  • 3 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp. Calvados or brandy (original recipe required 2 tbsp. of Calvados or brandy. Feel free to add more!)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Peel and core the apples and then cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. In a bowl, mix the apples, lemon juice, concentrate, cornstarch and brandy.
  4. In a large skillet, melt the butter and then add the brown sugar. Stir well and be sure that there are no lumps.
  5. Add the apple mixture to the skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the apples are soft, but not too soft.
  6. Transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 7 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  1. In a bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients. Mix well so that all the ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Set aside.

Sour Cream Mixture

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup currants or chopped raisins (optional)
  • Icing sugar for dusting (optional)
  1. Mix the sour cream into the cooled apple mixture. Spread this mixture evenly over the cooled pastry crust.
  2. Sprinkle the prepared topping evenly over the apple and sour cream mixture. With your hand, gently press the topping into the apple mixture.
  3. Bake the bars for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden around the edges.
  4. Cool the bars completely before cutting into squares. Be sure to use a sharp knife when cutting the bars.