The homemade cake batter is easy to whip up and studded with fresh cinnamon apple pieces, then topped with pecans.
They are best iced or glazed like coffee cake, or serve them with Greek yogurt for breakfast.
The bars are freezer-friendly, so you can make them ahead of time and serve them as a totally fuss-free freezer friendly fall breakfast!
I have always loved apple cinnamon flavors. So naturally, cinnamon is the one spice that needs to be replaced most often in my cupboard.
I just can never seem to put enough of it into my food.
This year I thought it would be amazing to have all the apple cinnamon goodness in a healthier blondie. Unfortunately, the blondies didn’t really turn out.
OK, you got me. They were TERRIBLE!
But instead the recipe evolved into these whole wheat apple bars.
I can’t say I’m sorry about the recipe mishap at all, because we’ve happily been eating these cake bars again and again over the last couple of weeks.
Em will stuff her little toddler face and immediately ask for more. I’m glad I made the bars healthier by adding whole wheat flour and using less sugar and butter than normal recipes would.
Because otherwise I would feel really bad about letting her eat so many of these! She’s definitely not going to be introduced to apple fritters any time soon.
The glaze is completely optional and the bars are lovely without it. But it does make them feel extra-special, especially if you serve them at a leisurely weekend family brunch.
Here’s the printable whole wheat apple bars recipe for your collection:
Whole Wheat Apple Bars
- 1 medium apple
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pecans roughly chopped
For the Glaze
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons apple juice or more if needed
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 7x11 inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang.
Peel and finely dice the apple. Melt 1 teaspoon butter over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the apple and cook for one minute, tossing to coat with the butter. Sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon flour and cook for another 2 minutes, carefully mixing until combined. Set aside to cool.
In a medium pot, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Continue warming until the butter turns golden brown in color and starts smelling of hazelnuts. Whisk in 2/3 cup brown sugar and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Once the mix has cooled to room temperature, whisk in the oil, vanilla extract and the eggs. Evenly sprinkle the whole wheat flour on top, then the baking powder and salt. Carefully mix into the egg mixture until a batter forms. Fold in the apples.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle the top with chopped pecans.
Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until they turn golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack before slicing into 12 squares.
To Make the Glaze
Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Gradually stir in the apple juice, one teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the consistency of a thick glaze. It should be pourable, but not liquid. Drizzle over the cooled cake bars.
Do not glaze the bars if you want to freeze them.
Cut the cake into bars and place them into freezer-friendly storage containers. You can put parchment paper between the bars if you want to remove them individually.
Alternatively, place single bars into small freezer bags.
Make sure to label the containers or freezer bags with both their content and the date!
Freeze the bars for up to a month.
Thaw the bars in the fridge overnight. If you'd like to warm them up, do so in the microwave or for about 5 minutes at 300°F in the oven.