Apple Butter Oat Bars

Cooking and writing in: Pittsburgh, PA

I had a hankering for a granola bar or bar cookie or just something baked and chewy and a little sweet last week. Since using butter, eggs, milk, and chocolate were out of the question, I couldn’t grab any of my go-to recipes and just get started. I wanted to make a low-fat, sweet, delicious bar that didn’t taste like it was missing anything. I spent a few hours poring over fat-free and vegan recipes and pulled ideas from several to come up with these delicious apple butter oat bars. I might make another batch this week – they are so good and super easy. The apple butter gives them a lot of flavor in one fell swoop. I’m lucky enough to have a whole jar of a locally made apple butter on hand so that helps – good quality apple butter is the key to this recipe.

The trick to this was figuring out how to get them to rise just a little, but not much, I wanted a dense treat but not one that would break a tooth. Since I omitted the eggs in all the recipes, I knew I needed a leavening agent. This is when the recipe for my great-grandmother’s Screwball Cake (aka the best chocolate cake EVER) came to mind. It’s eggless but uses vinegar. I wasn’t really sure why one would put vinegar in chocolate cake, but I looked it up and found out that mixed with baking soda it’s a good leavening agent. This made sense to me since I made a lot of those volcanoes in elementary school with the baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring used for explosive lava. That final bit of knowledge really brought this recipe together and I’m especially proud of this one.

Apple Butter Oat Bars

2/3 cup apple butter

1 T apple cider vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup flour

½ tsp baking soda

¼  tsp salt

1½ cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix apple butter, vinegar, sugar and vanilla well. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Fold in oats. Press mixture into greased loaf pan. Bake for 18-25 minutes, until bars are firm and cooked through. Cool completely before slicing into bars. After loaf is partially cooled, it is okay to remove it from the pan to a rack or to refrigerate the bars for faster cooling. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Today’s local ingredients:

Apple butter, Kistaco Farm, Apollo, PA

Cider vinegar, Penn’s Corner CSA

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