Autumn squares were a seasonal treat growing up as a kid. I can remember the wafting aromas of slowly baking apples dredged in cinnamon and sugar coming from the kitchen. The smell of freshly baked crust escaping the oven and into my nose. A tall glass of milk in my hand and you have yourself the perfect after school snack. Apple squares are a Crawford family tradition around the autumn/holiday season. This recipe is inspired by my Grandma Cooley’s recipe, which was passed down to my mother which was, in turn, passed down to me. Traditionally, you would make a second layer of dough and roll it on top to emulate an apple pie, then a simple icing is drizzled over top. When brainstorming with my mother about ways to improve upon the recipe, she suggested taking off the top layer of crust and making an apple streusel to sprinkle on top, to which I thought “that’s a good idea!”
The smell that will come out of your oven will be indescribable. Warm scents of cinnamon and vanilla filling your kitchen. It reminds me of those chilly fall nights, a bonfire burning bright and everyone is drinking apple cider and talking and laughing. It’s food like this that brings people together. That warm, comfort food that sparks a memory and an emotion. That’s what I love about food, it runs deep in all of us. Baking family recipes like these makes me miss home at times. Being away at college can be tough, but when I take a bite into one of these apple squares, it reminds me of the people I love and the places I truly miss.
Cinnamon Apple Squares Recipe
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
¾ tsp. salt
¾ c. vegetable shortening
2/3 c. whole milk
4 Granny Smith Apples, peeled or unpeeled and sliced
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/8 c. Clabber Girl Corn Starch
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¾ c. granulated sugar
¾ c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ c. unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 Tbsp. water
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 c. heavy cream
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the crust. Chill the shortening in the fridge 15 minutes before beginning. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the chilled shortening into the flour mixture until a coarse meal begins to form. Slowly add the milk and stir until the dough begins to form and come together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and shape into a 1 inch round disc. Cover with plastic wrap and have set in the fridge for 1 hour or up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
For the streusel. In a medium-size mixing, stir together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut the chilled butter into the flour mixture until pea-sized chunks of butter are seen. Stir in the water until combined. Cover and place in the fridge until needed.
For the filling. In a medium-size mixing bowl, toss together the apple slices, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves until well incorporated. Set aside.
Grease a 9×13-inch baking sheet. Roll the dough out into a rectangular shape, allowing the dough to stretch past the edges of the sheet. Roll dough onto the sheet, pressing the dough out evenly. Cut off excess dough and fold edges under the dough. Crimp the edges around the sheet pan. Fill the prepared crust with the apples and accumulated juices, spreading them out in an even layer. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the pie. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and your kitchen is smelling of apple spiced heaven.
For the icing. In a medium-size mixing bowl, stir together the sifted powdered sugar, heavy cream, and melted butter until combined. Drizzle over top of the apple squares while they are still warm and cooling. Serve immediately.