Apple Slab: Would a pie by any other name taste as sweet? Absolutely.

Apple Slab.

Fairly rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

CLUNK.

I doubt anything I’ve ever baked has a less compelling name. But truth be told, it wasn’t the name that attracted me. It was an email from a reader wanting to re-create something his grandmother had made decades ago. And since I’m a complete sucker for old-time recipes, I took the bait.

This reader – I remember his name was Frank, though unfortunately I’ve long since lost his email – recalled “an apple pie baked in a rectangular pan, with a thinner than normal layer of apples and a white glaze on top.”

Hmmm, shouldn’t be hard to figure out. Still, I wanted to find an “authentic” old-time recipe, something from, I’d guess, the first half of the last century.

Which I did fairly easily, simply by Googling “apple pie rectangular glazed.” Up popped Apple Slab, and I was off to the races.

Kind of.

So many recipes, so little time… Apple Slab had to wait its turn. Along with Persian Buns (deep-fried, glazed cinnamon rolls); Gooey Cake; yeast bread made from fresh-ground wheat; and Tarte Tropezienne, a specialty of Marseilles: a large, flat brioche split lengthwise and filled with pastry cream, glazed with a crackly vanilla syrup and topped with toasted almonds. Kind of a Bienenstich, but lighter.

Hmmm, speaking of Bienenstich – there’s another one waiting in the wings.

Even when you work in the King Arthur test kitchen, there’s STILL not time to bake everything on your “sounds good” list. But what fun we have trying!

Back to Apple Slab – which finally made its way to the top of the pile. The recipes I read were all incredibly basic; spartan, you might call them, as so many old-time recipes are. “Make a crust. Line with crushed cornflakes. Slice apples over. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Add top crust, bake till done. Glaze with white icing.”

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Yup, that was it. Bakers could easily follow a recipe like that 70 years ago. Now – not so much.

So I took those basic thoughts, and gave them a face lift, turning them into a 21st century-style recipe we can all follow, complete with ingredient amounts and baking times.

The result? An apple pie that transports easily in its 9” x 13” pan; readily divides itself into 2 dozen easy-to-plate servings (try THAT with a round pie); and is ridiculously tasty.

Frank, wherever you are – this one’s for you. Enjoy!

Make your favorite double pie crust recipe, one that uses 2 1/2 to 3 cups of flour. I’m using my favorite here, our Classic Double Pie Crust.

Do you have pie crust phobia? Follow the step-by-step photos in our pie crust blog.

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Divide the crust into two parts: one should be 3/5 (60%) of the dough, the other 2/5 (40%). This is easy if you have a scale. If you don’t, eyeball it. Shape each piece of crust into a rectangle; you’re going to be rolling them into rectangles, so might as well give yourself a head start.

Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes, till thoroughly chilled.

Take the larger piece of pastry out of the fridge, and put it on a floured work surface.

Start to roll it into an 11” x 15” rectangle. See those light patches? That’s butter. Those big “smears” of butter help keep your crust tender.

OK, that looks about right. Don’t worry about the ragged edges; they’ll disappear under the top crust.

Now we’re going to move the crust to an ungreased 9” x 13”” pan.

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Fold in half, then in half again. Move to the pan, with the folded corner right in the center of the pan. Unfold.

Messy, huh? That’s OK. Patch up the holes by pushing the pastry together with your fingers, or adding a pinch from the excess on the sides. Push the pastry up the sides of the pan a bit, to make a shallow pastry container for the apples.

Put the crust in the fridge while you get the apples ready. And start preheating your oven to 350°F.

Next, we’re going to peel, core, and slice about 5 large or 6 to 7 medium baking apples. I’ve chosen Granny Smiths here, as our fresh local apples weren’t in yet when I was testing this recipe.

An apple peeler/corer/slicer makes this task fast and EASY.

Once the peeper/corer/slicer has done its work, I simply slice the apple in half with a knife and separate the slices. I can peel, core, and slice an apple in just about 10 seconds.

Here’s the chilled crust, ready for its apples.

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But first – a layer of coarse, dry bread crumbs, to help absorb the apples’ juice and keep the crust from becoming soggy. I used 1 cup of Panko – coarse Japanese-style bread crumbs.

The original recipes I found called for crushed cornflakes, which would also be a good option.

Spread the crumbs evenly over the crust.

Top with the apples.

Next, sprinkle with 2/3 cup cinnamon sugar. I like Cinnamon-Sugar Plus – superfine sugar mixed with Vietnamese cinnamon. Super-tasty. But you can make your own cinnamon sugar by combining 2/3 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Ready for its top crust.

Roll the remaining piece of pastry into a 9” x 13” rectangle.

Again, don’t worry too much about ragged edges; as my grandma-in-law used to say, “It’ll all come out in the wet wash.”

Flop the top crust over the apples. Yes, apples will poke through. Seal the edges of the two crusts as well as you can. There’ll be places where they don’t quite meet. That’s OK.

If the whole thing has become warm and sticky and hard to work with, pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm it up.

Just before baking, slash it 6 or 8 times to allow steam to escape.

If desired, brush the slab with milk, and sprinkle it with coarse white sparkling sugar or cinnamon-sugar.

Put the slab in the preheated 350°F oven, and bake it for an hour.

Remove it from the oven; it’ll be golden brown.

No beauty queen, but icing will help its looks.

Cool the slab completely before glazing.

Here’s a wonderfully tasty glaze: Combine 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 1/3 cup boiled cider, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, a small pinch of salt, and enough milk or cream to make the mixture “drizzlable.”

Don’t have boiled cider? Use plain milk or cream, maple syrup, honey, or thawed apple juice concentrate. Start with 1/4 cup of any of these; if you’ve made this kind of icing before, you know it’s easier to add more liquid, than to try to take it away. Add enough liquid to make the glaze pourable.

See how thick this is? Maybe a little TOO thick for drizzling.

A teaspoon of cream should take care of that.

Drizzle the glaze artfully atop the slab.

It kind of all runs together anyway, but it’s fun to try to make patterns.

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I experimented with a slab that was half glazed, half topped with cinnamon sugar and sparkling sugar. Baker’s choice.

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Cut. Serve. Enjoy.

And look how easy it is to serve in small pieces, compared to pie. You can get 2 dozen servings from this pan of Slab – try doing THAT with a pie!

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Old-Fashioned Apple Slab.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Heidi

    I got so excited when I saw this recipe! Had to read it and see if it’s the same one my family always made… Yep, it is! We called them apple squares and used corn flakes with a powdered sugar glaze. My mom would make other flavors too. My favorite was cherry, followed by blueberry. I was allergic to milk as a child so my mom made them with shortening in the crust and water in the glaze. I did the same last time I made them and still got rave reviews! Such a great holiday tradition! Thanks for sharing them 🙂

    Reply
  2. Jenice

    My husband’s mother made this in the 40s and passed the recipe to me when I became part of the family. We have always used corn flakes and just a light powder sugar glaze. Favorite of our whole family.

    Reply
  3. Julie

    We always sprinkle dry tapioca beads in the bottom of a fruit pie. It absorbs the moisture and makes a great filling. Use enough to lightly cover the bottom crust.

    Reply
  4. T.K. Whalen

    For the lady with the no roll vegetable oil crust – there is a rolled version – just use 2 pieces of waxed paper – and roll the dough between it – you can get it very thin that way and it won’t tear too much

    Reply
  5. Lynda

    Interesting to use the Panko crumbs to absorb liquid and to keep the bottom from getting soggy. Would this be something to add to other fruit pies/cobblers? I love the crust – but not when it becomes gooey and soggy. Thanks!!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Lynda-
      The same principal certainly would hold if you wanted to use the Panko crumbs in a pie or cobbler to help protect your crust. Happy baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  6. CJ Mark

    my mother always made more of a biscuit crust and then topped it with whipped egg whites edge to edge instead of a crust top and then glazed it with a powder sugar milk drizzle after baking – she called it Apple Pan Doubty

    Reply
  7. Cynthia Wilkins

    My grandma made a apple pie in a 9×13 pan topped with a white type of frosting (powder sugar, butter and milk). She called it Apple slices. I make it now, family still love it. So simple and yummy.

    Reply
  8. Robin

    What is a substitute for buttermilk powder? Is it needed in the recipe – can I just leave it out since I do not have this ingredient?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Yes, Robin, you can just leave it out – it simply adds a bit of flavor and tenderness, but isn’t critical to the recipes success. Enjoy – PJH

  9. Laurie

    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a HUGE hit. I have one piece left but only because I hid it. I used the pastry recipe I always use (from my 40 year old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook) and I’m glad you mentioned several times in the directions that it wouldn’t be pretty and would require a lot of patching because that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t even cut vents into the top because the patchwork of pastry made their own vents. I also made my own boiled cider since I wasn’t able to get to the store to buy some. My daughter used the glaze on the gluten-free gingerbread cake she made, too and it was really good.

    Reply

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