Blueberry Crumble Bars

by Carilyn on March 3, 2021

Shhh…don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never been a fruit pie lover. Well, except those cardboard-esque Hostess apple pies I used to get as a kid. And the deep fried pies from Whataburger. Okay, let me rephrase: I’ve never really liked fruit pies that would be considered “good” by anyone over the age of nine.

But Tim LOVES fruit pies, so alas, sometimes I make them because I LOVE Tim.

January was spent baking from “100 Cookies,” by Sarah Kieffer with my son, Spencer. Because he is in a rigorous Ph.D. program, his time is much more limited than mine, so while I was baking almost every day of the month, he focused on quality over quantity (which is why I gained five pounds and he lost two). I really got into Sarah’s “pan-banging cookie recipes,” while Spencer experimented with a lot of the bar recipes. We traded reviews and photos. Finally, at the end of the month, I decided I needed branch out from the traditional round cookie recipes, and try a bar. Tim, the resident taster, asked (begged) for a fruit bar, so I grumpily agreed. Ugh. Fruit + crumble = NutriGrain bar as far as I’m concerned.

On the last day of our baking challenge, I sat at the counter and perused the book for the hundredth time. I pined longingly for another batch of the Ginger Molasses Cookies (yes, they are amazing despite having MOLASSES). I rubbed my hand over the photo of my very favorite S’mores Cookies, remembering the graham cracker coating and the toasted marshmallows. What kind of person would want a dessert made out of fruit over something made with chocolate and marshmallows?!

I finally sucked it up and turned to the fruit section of the book. There, I saw a recipe for a Mixed Berry Crumble Bar. Only problem: I didn’t have mixed berries. I started to turn the page, fully intending to tell Tim, “Sorry. You got another sugar cookie because we had no berries. I’ll make them for you next week.” But, it was the last day of January, and I needed this challenge to end before I had to buy new pants. I dug a bag of frozen blueberries that I use for smoothies out of the freezer, and set them out to thaw. Love was turning out to be a whole lot of work.

I went about my business, running miles, checking on my mom, doing paperwork, answering e-mails and phone calls, passing by the defrosting blueberries every so often. They did not magically disappear. Finally, when all my work was done, I could ignore them no more. Blueberry Crumble Bars were going to be made whether I wanted them, or not.

And, in the parlance of culinarians, Whoa.

The Blueberry Crumble Bars were most excellent! First of all, they were super easy. Like, one of the easiest recipes in the book, which after an entire month of baking was a welcome surprise. Second, they tasted freakin’ amazing! They had a beautiful shortbread base on the bottom that gave the bars some heft. Then, in the center, was a bright, gooey blueberry center, zipped up with a nice tang of fresh lemon zest (blueberry and lemon, come on – the perfect combo, right?). All of this shortbread blueberry goodness was topped off with buttery crumble, further cutting the too-sweet fruit pie taste that normally makes people like me shun fruit pies.

It is possible, though not provable, that I left a fork in the pan just in case I needed to taste the bars (that never actually got cut into bars) every time I walked into the kitchen. It is also possible, though not provable, that I ate more than my share of said non-bar bars. There were no witnesses, and I will deny if confronted. Let’s just say that these Blueberry Crumble Bars will be made again, and possibly shared with people who don’t also share my last name.

 

Blueberry Crumble Bars

adapted from Mixed Berry Crumble Bars – 100 Cookies, by Sarah Kieffer

 

Base/Crumble

2 1/2 cups (355 g) AP flour

1/2 cup (45 g) rolled oats

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (100 g) brown sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup (2 sticks/227 g) unsalted butter at room temp, cut into 1 inch pieces

 

Filling

1/2 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (50 g) brown sugar

1/4 cup (28 g) cornstarch

1/2 tsp ground cardamom or cinnamon (I used both)

1/4 tsp. salt

24 oz. (915 g) blueberries (if frozen, allow to defrost on paper towels to absorb excess liquid)

1/2 cup (75 g) grated apple (she recommends Gala – I used a honey crisp)

zest of one lemon (about a tablespoon)

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

 

With rack in the center, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter/spray a 9 x 13 inch pan and line with parchment.

Crust and Crumble:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix flour, oats, both sugars, baking soda, and salt just to combine.

Add the butter and mix on low until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

Press half the mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prepare the blueberry filling.

Filling:

In a small bowl, whisk together both sugars, cornstarch, cardamom/cinnamon/salt and lemon zest.

In a large bowl, mix together the blueberries, apple, lemon juice, and vanilla.

Pour the sugar mixture over the berry mixture, and fold gently.

 

Remove the pan and spread the blueberry filling over the crust. Sprinkle on the remaining crumble evenly over the filling. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Cool completely on a wire rack so that the filling has time to set up. Cut into bars (if you feel the need to share).

 

 

 

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