Saturday, September 22, 2007

Aeblekage (Danish Apple Bars)

What a blessing to work at an organization where everyone shares from the bounty they receive! One of my coworkers has regularly been sharing apples, plums, and a variety of types of tomatoes with our office over the last month or so. And yesterday, there were so many apples that I was able to bring a nice-sized bag home with plans to make my mother's favorite Danish apple bar (aeblekage) recipe.

I remember my mother making aeblekage for church events and for company. Like Mom, I have a church event in mind, so I'm going to be making this recipe this coming Wednesday nigh after work. It's a wonderfully light, flaky, apple bar sweetened with cinnamon and sugar. The last time I made it for a church potluck dinner, it disappeared quickly, though I think I had one piece left on the pan at the end of the dinner when everyone was starting to pack up. And actually, I was really pleased to have one piece left to bring home. Since I don't make this more than once every year or so, I was glad to have a piece to enjoy the next day.

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
1 egg, divided (reserving both yolk and white, and beating the white until foamy)
Milk (slightly less than 2/3 cup)
1 cup crushed corn flakes
5 large apples (or 10-12 small ones), peeled, cored, and sliced
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture until crumbly. In a one-cup measuring cup, beat the egg yolk and then mix in enough milk to make 2/3 cup of liquid; whisk or beat with a fork until blended. Add milk and egg yolk mixture gradually to the flour and shortening mixture, stirring just enough to blend (do not over mix, as you are making a crust and want the end result to be light and flaky).

Divide the dough in half and roll half out on a floured surface until it will fill the bottom and sides of a 10x15 jellyroll baking pan. Carefully transfer the bottom crust that you have just made to the pan. Add the crushed cornflakes evenly over the top of this crust, followed with slices of apple arranged evenly. Mix cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the apples.

Roll remaining dough to fit over the apples. Moisten the edges of your two-layers of crust and crimp them together to seal. Lightly brush the top crust with beaten egg whites. With a knife, cut a few small vents in the top to let the steam escape. Bake for 1 hour in a preheated 375-degree oven until golden brown.

This might be how you want to serve your apple bars, and this is generally where I stop, but one of the two cookbooks I consulted as I was looking for the recipe my mother always used, added a glaze to the top of the bars while they were cooling. If you'd like to do that, you could make a glaze with 1 cup confectioner's sugar, 1 Tbsp. water, and 1 tsp. vanilla.

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