Rustic, Heirloom Apple Squares: A Recipe and Sweet Autumn Memory…

Heirloom Apple Squares Aletha Soule plate (one)

Heirloom Apples for Apple Squares

Served warm with a cup of steaming tea, apple squares can bring back a rush of sweet memories for me. When I was a little girl, my third grade teacher always made homemade goodies for special events and bake sales. Margaret was a lovely woman; plump and grandmotherly and generous. She was my favorite teacher, and I brought her bouquets of sunflowers from my mother’s garden just to see her smile. As a child, I had a very difficult time learning to read. I made agonizingly slow progress, but Margaret stuck by me through my stammering and stuttering, proving my greatest champion and cheerleader. During recess I would often stay behind, sitting beside her while she ate her lunch, reading out loud from whatever book I chose. This was definitely not in her job description, but I am quite sure she didn’t have that document memorized. Usually, at the end of my private tutoring, I received a homemade treat from her lunch bag. Sometimes it was a cookie or a brownie, but one day in late autumn, it was an apple square. I had never tasted one before – it was moist and sweet and delicious. The heirloom apples came from a big, old tree in Margaret’s back yard. Of course, when she saw how much I liked the apple squares, they began to appear in her lunch box more frequently.

Many years passed, and although I never forgot Margaret, (I did surprise her on occasion with a bouquet of sunflowers), the ritual of afternoon apple squares somehow got away from me. Then, late this summer, my friend Rhonda sent a box of homemade ‘apple brownies’ to me. When I peeked inside, I immediately recognized my favorite third-grade treat. What Rhonda calls ‘apple brownies’, I call ‘apple squares’. Well, you can call them whatever you like – they are absolutely delicious. Because this recipe is so simple, the flavor of the apples takes center stage. With Margaret’s old tree in mind, I tried a combination of tart and sweet reinettes, (heirloom apples from Scott Farm), for my version of this treat. If heirloom apples are not available, any tart apple, (such as Granny Smith), will work for this recipe. Instead of peeling them, I left the skin on for color and texture, as Margaret did years ago. They are so quick and easy to make, how could I have forgotten about them? Thank you Rhonda, for bringing back such sweet autumn memories…

Rustic Heirloom Apple Squares

(adapted from Rhonda Canning’s apple brownies)

4       cups of tart heirloom apples, diced, (peels on for a more rustic effect)

1 +     cups sugar (add more to taste, I prefer mine less sweet)

4        average size eggs

1        cup melted butter

2       cups all purpose flour

2       tsp baking powder

1/2     tsp salt*

1         tsp freshly ground cinnamon

1         tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 9 x 13″ baking dish. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside. (* if you are using salted butter, you may reduce or eliminate salt. I use unsalted, sweet farm butter). Combine melted butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add apples to this large bowl and stir together with the buttery mix. Add dry ingredients, slowly stirring as you go. The mixture will get quite thick. When the ingredients are throughly blended, pour into the greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. To test, the top should appear golden brown and a wooden stick should pull out clean from the center.

Allow the pan to cool, then cover and let sit for a couple of hours. The apple squares will become super moist, and they taste best when allowed to rest for 2-3 hours before eating….

Heirloom Apples diced up for squares

Heirloom Apple Squares Mix

Heirloom Apple Squares in pan

Scott Farm Apple on Tree

(In loving memory of my favorite teacher, Margaret E. Booker)


Article and photographs copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

Gunmetal glaze plate featured in top photo by Aletha Soule.

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without express permission. Inspired by something you see here? It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…


6 Replies to “Rustic, Heirloom Apple Squares: A Recipe and Sweet Autumn Memory…”

  1. Bil Gardiner


    Wow… for someone who had trouble “learning to read”, you sure do have a command for the language now. Your writing is simply wonderful and poetic.

    I have a most wonderful apple crisp recipe that gets requested wherever I go, but this I am going to have to try. It looks simply scrumptious.

    Bil ;-)

  2. Michaela

    Thank you Bil,
    Margaret was a great inspiration to me. She kept telling me that written language is just a code-game, and that anyone can crack it. I believed her and ended up with a degree in English literature, (and a minor in horticulture of course). The love and attention of a good teacher can change a life. She passed away a few years ago now, and I am glad that I had the chance to tell her how much she meant to me before she had to go. I guess this story is just another apple for my teacher ;)
    Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to comment. I hope you enjoy the apple squares. Your photography is beautiful…

  3. {tig}

    Hello Michaela!

    How lovely to share this delicious recipe, and even more so for sharing your nostalgic memories of your wonderfully kindhearted and generous third-grade teacher. Shall have to try the recipe, despite being somewhat of a hazard in the kitchen :)

    {p.s.} just wanted to let you know that your lovely and eloquent comments always make my day


  4. Michaela

    Well hello again {tig},
    I do hope you will give the recipe a whirl – I have two left feet when doing the kitchen waltz, so if I can manage the apple squares, I am relatively sure you can too. Thank you so much for your kind comments, my most glamorous reader. And while we are on the subject of delicious treats, I must say that your blog posts are always an eagerly anticipated feast for the eyes.
    All the best,

  5. Barbara Jean Willk

    It is very true that a great teacher or mentor can change a person for life. I miss my two mentors, and the fond memories of the ways they helped me find my way in my life.

    You are a lucky woman, and I will think of you as I sample your delicious recipe. God bless and send more great recipes.

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