September – back to school, a return of routines, darkening evenings and the buttoning of coats against an encroaching winter coldness.
Life sometimes takes unexpected turns and catches us by surprise. When I leafed through the first copy of a local magazine for parents back in June, I certainly had no inkling that my own writing would appear on these pages only three months later. But it was a time of high energy and I was planning to take on the world. Offering to write a food article for publication seemed to be the obvious course of action.
Kirsten, editor of Families North Devon and Exeter, took my enthusiasm in her stride and together we discussed ideas for a back-to-school article on healthy packed lunch boxes. Feeling slightly daunted by what I had taken on in a moment of reckless over-confidence, I ummed and aahed and dragged my heels for a while before taking up the virtual pen of Microsoft Word.
I wanted to feature a recipe for a lunchbox treat that could easily be tackled by both children and their parents. I had the notion that baking together in this way would inspire enthusiasm for the whole dreary business of daily sandwich-wrapping (something, I have to confess, that I have largely avoided by stubbornly insisting that all three of my children have school dinners every day).
My recipe-testers were keen to help out with this more practical side of writing the article, and so these Apple Pie Brunch Bars were born (with grateful thanks to Jon for joining me in a name-brainstorming session).
The article itself appeared in the September/October 2012 edition of the Families North Devon and Exeter Magazine. It is available online on the Families website, and also here as a pdf:
Apple Pie Brunch Bars
These Apple Pie Brunch Bars are easy to make with children, travel well, can be stored for several days and provide a sweet and delicious lunchbox treat without any added extras (you know exactly what goes into them!).
1 tbsp lemon juice
310g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
140g light muscovado sugar
200g golden caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, and line a 33cm x 23cm baking tray with baking parchment.
Peel, core and dice the apples, then mix them with the lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a mixing bowl and whisk them to incorporate fully. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave.
Put the sugars in a large mixing bowl and add the melted butter. Beat well with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
Use a metal spoon to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the apples and stir just until evenly mixed.
Spread the batter into the prepared baking tray and bake for 25 minutes until golden and the top springs back when pressed lightly.
Leave to cool in the tray for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool fully before cutting into bars.