This apple pie bar recipe kind of happened as a random out of the blue "hack" of sorts. A friend sent me a message recently noting that she was trying to do more baking with alternative flours like almond + coconut flour but her efforts were turning into fails. She wanted to commit to a grain free lifestyle - or at least commit to trying it out! - but I could feel her frustration with her failed attempts and immediately offered to help. There was a specific recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction called Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars that she had tried and was really eager to get it right, so I asked her to send it my way so I could hack it to make it grain free.
Before I got started, I asked her how she had altered the recipe so I could do a better job of helping her be successful the next time around. The original recipe that she shared with me called for 1 cup of all purpose flour for these apple pie bar's shortbread crust. My sweet friend swapped the all purpose flour for coconut flour, not knowing that this was the number one reason the recipe failed for her before she even got it off the ground. You see, alternative flours are rarely a 1:1 substitute for all purpose flour. The only exceptions I have personally found to that rule are swapping out AP flour for say, Bob's Reb Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Flour. Otherwise, there's a science to baking with alternative flours, especially coconut flour which is super absorbent and requires a TON of eggs. When I decided to hack this recipe for her, I didn't have a ton of eggs in the house so I opted for an almond flour shortbread base.
The general rule of thumb is for every 1 cup of all purpose flour you're substituting, you want to use 1/4 cup of almond flour. So, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of all purpose flour, you'll use 1/2 cup of almond flour. I say general rule of thumb though, because there of course will be times where this ratio doesn't quite work. The first time I tested this recipe, the only substitution I made was using 1/4 cup of almond flour, forgetting I must also adjust the butter in the shortbread recipe (whoops!) This lead to a pretty quick fail on my part but, that's recipe testing! If I had a dollar for every fail, it would be way more dollars than I'd have for every success! After thinking about it a bitand trying another time or two, I decided to try a 1:1 substitution with the almond flour but reduce the butter instead and wouldn't you know, it worked!
I will note, the salted caramel can be a little tricky, too. Don't worry if it doesn't come out completely gooey and sticky on your first attempt. I learned from my good friend Steph aka Gutsy Baker that caramel is finicky and might take a few tries before getting it right. Even if you're not nailing it on the first attempt, so long as you don't burn the salted caramel sauce, it's still going to be the tastiest drizzle on top of this super tasty fall treat! Sometimes all that matters is that your creation tastes amazing, right?!
For all my low FODMAP friends, I've used Granny Smith apples in this recipe because not only are they great for pies and baking, but they're also a bit more FODMAP friendly than other apple varieties, but if you have another type of apple you prefer, by all means sub it in!
Did you make this recipe? Make sure to leave me a review in the comments below and tag your creations on Facebook and Instagram!
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