When I came across this recipe card for apple surprise in my grandma’s recipe tin I stopped in my tracks to see what this was all about. Is it a surprise when you find the apple? Or it’s surprisingly apple-y?
The most surprising thing about this bake is the different ingredients they use to combine into one apple-pie like bar concoction. The crust is very easy to make by adding together the butter, flour, sugar and vanilla. Here I diverted from the recipe and added a bit of cinnamon to add some depth to the flavor and a nod to apple pie. Of course I took assumption in using unsalted butter. I usually just default to unsalted butter unless otherwise specified. Some of these recipes call for shortening, which I believe means Crisco…or is what I remember my mom put in some desserts growing up. However, I thought we all agreed to leave Crisco in the past. Maybe that’s just me because I prefer butter.
I found it is best to work this in order as instructed on the card. At first I thought I would be ahead of the game and should peel and slice my apples first. However, I opted for Granny Smith apples to add some tartness to the bake so I held off on peeling them right away so they wouldn’t oxidize. I went ahead and softened the butter and added in the other crust ingredients and put them in the pan. Again, this is a crust that looks like a crumbly mess in the bowl, but with some elbow grease it comes together beautifully. I like to use the electric mixer for as long as possible and then just use my hands to form it into dough.
Peeling and slicing the apples is where I had a few questions. How many apples do I use? What type? How thick should they be? For this part I just winged it and figured it out along the way – as usual. I decided two apples would be a safe bet to cover the whole pan. Once I had my apples perfectly peeled, I decided to go for a moderately thin slice since I wanted to keep all of my layers relatively even. The crust in the 9×13 pan was fairly thin so I decided to go with one layer of apples. I am not a huge aficionado of cooked fruit. In my mind putting one thin layer of apples would make this edible even for the most picky eater, which worked out quite nicely. Once this is all assembled it is ready to go in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
While baking you have time to make the pudding. Now I suppose you could buy the packaged vanilla pudding, but I went the semi-homemade route and used the box. All this requires is a bowl, pudding mix and 2 cups of milk. So that’s how we get “semi”-homemade! And I figured through this route I could have more control over how much pudding gets poured over the top. Once the pudding is ready it’s about time to check back on the oven. Here is where I had a little bit of a debate. I kept checking the crust to see if it was done and it seemed very soft the last 10 minutes. I kept wondering if it was because there was no rising agent and no eggs, so maybe it is supposed to be “crumbly”. Well that’s how it turned out. Hey if it tastes good then that is the way it’s supposed to be!
While still warm pour the vanilla pudding over the top and let it rest. I let this completely cool and put it in the fridge. I think desserts like this not only taste better cold, but are also better the next day. I have read it’s because of the molecules interacting, but don’t ask me to explain that any further! I quite enjoyed making this apple surprise because it was surprisingly easy and I had a lot of fun.
I also decided it jazz this up a bit by adding some homemade caramel decoration on the top. Ok once again I challenge myself to make something I have never tried before so this was another adventure for another day. Keep an eye out for that post about the FIVE times it took me to successfully make caramel.
- 2 sticks butter
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 stp vanilla
- 1/4 tbsp cinnamon
*Cream these together and press into a greased pan
Peel and slice 2-3 apples over the mixture
1 package vanilla pudding (prepared or homemade)
While hot, top with prepared vanilla pudding
Bake for 30-35 minutes at 300 Degrees
*Depending on when crust is set. Test with toothpick around the crust to make sure it is set throughout.
Refrigerate. Optional – serve with whipped cream!