What do you get if you combine practically every healthy, wholesome, good-for-you ingredient currently residing in my baking stash, sweeten it with a little pure maple syrup (sooo good!) and then bake in a medium oven for 30 minutes?
The answer is these gorgeously gooey, warm-spiced cinnamon apple streusel bars – chewy, dense oaty base, a layer of sticky-sweet spiced apple filling, all topped off with a lightly toasted brown sugar streusel.
These bars are lightly sweetened – less than a third of a cup in total. A relatively small amount of sugar (about one teaspoon per bar) combined with oats + apples + coconut oil + cinnamon (my all time favourite spice!) makes for a filling, tasty snack that works any time of day.
I’ve used two different apple varieties here – one sweet and one tart. I always used to choose just cooking apples, like a Bramley, whenever a recipe called for cooked apple (well, it made sense to me…) but by adding a naturally sweeter variety, like a Pink Lady, to balance the tartness, you get a more rounded apple flavour without the need to add copious quantities of the white stuff to compensate.
When I started testing this recipe, I first used apple puree in the middle layer (I found some hidden away in the back of the freezer). It worked absolutely fine, I just prefer to have a little more texture in my bars but it’s your call, use what you have/prefer.
To thicken the middle layer and stop it falling apart when you cut into the streusel bars, I’ve mixed cornflour (cornstarch) into a little pure maple syrup, along with some cinnamon for an extra flavour boost – you can never have too much cinnamon! As cornflour will clump if added directly to a hot liquid, it’s important to blend it with a cool liquid until smooth, then stir the cool mixture into the hot.
The oat based layer for this recipe also doubles as the streusel topping. Super easy + one bowl = less washing up – always a bonus!
If ever there was a prize awarded for a food hero in my kitchen, oats would be right up there at the top of the list.
Easily available and fairly cheap, they are packed full of nutrients. Most importantly (at least in my book) they taste downright delicious – filling, hearty, tasty and versatile, just like these streusel bars!
The versatility of oats is why I have four bags worth currently stashed away in my too small kitchen. My bank balance is sure glad I prefer buying bags of oats to shoes! From overnight oats, to whizzing them up in a coffee grinder to make oat flour, they are a magical ingredient. I’ve even been known to fill up with a bowl of porridge for supper – who says oats are only for breakfast?
To make the base (& streusel!) layer, simply combine oats, flour, a little brown sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle in melted coconut oil, and add a lightly beaten egg to bind everything together. I’ve made this using butter instead, but I have a slight preference for the coconut oil version. By melting the oil and stirring it in, everything gets nicely coated, plus the flavour is so mild it doesn’t actually tasty coconutty – I want my apple streusel bars to taste of apple, please!
Layering this up is simple – press about three quarters of the oat mixture into the bottom of a dish, spoon the cooked apple on top and sprinkle with the rest of the streusel topping. A gentle bake in the oven, a chill in the refrigerator (this helps to set the bars, making them easier to cut) and that’s it!
A comfy chair, a warm blanket, a good book, a hot cup of coffee and a warm cinnamon apple streusel bar drizzled with cold cream – chewy base, spicy apple and crumbly topping – I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!
- 4 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped*
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2½ cups (250g) rolled oats**
- 3 tablespoons plain wholemeal flour
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- ½ cup (120ml) melted coconut oil
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 (350F degrees). Line a 8 x 10 inch oven safe dish with baking parchment (leave a generous overhang on all sides) & set aside.
- In a large saucepan, gently cook the chopped apples over a very low heat, stirring often, until about half of them have broken down. I usually leave a lid on the pan, stirring every 2-3 minutes - if you are easily distracted like me, put a timer on repeatedly! The apples should release enough juice while heating that they don't stick to the bottom of the pan, just remember to keep an eye on them.
- In a small bowl, mix the cornflour into the maple syrup until there are no clumps remaining, then stir in the ground cinnamon.
- Once the apples start to break down add the maple syrup mixture, stir together thoroughly, then set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, combine together the oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle the melted coconut oil in and mix together until everything is coated in the oil.
- Stir in the lightly beaten egg - this helps to bind the oats together as they are baking.
- Spoon about ¾ of the oat mixture into the lined oven dish and press down firmly. Layer the apple mixture on top and finish by crumbling the remaining oat mixture on top.
- Cook for 30 - 35 minutes or until the streusel is lightly browned on top. Allow to cool in the dish on a wire rack, then refrigerate until completely cold.
- Remove from the dish (the baking parchment overhang helps in removing the bars once chilled). Cut into bars and serve hot or cold, drizzled with a little cream or even caramel sauce if liked.
- Bars will stay fresh for 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge, or will happily freeze for up to 2 months.
**Use old-fashioned whole rolled oats (porridge oats) rather than quick oats. Quick oats are more powdery and won't give you the same lovely chewy texture.
Recipe inspired by Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars by sallysbakingaddiction.com