Strawberries are at their peek right now. Every year when the fresh berries come around, I start to make them into baked goods. But while a pie can be overwhelming and not as everyday friendly in a house of two, fruit “bars” are a wonderful thing to have around. They are easy to make, with a pat-in crust, that doubles as both top and bottom, and a delectable, just-sweet-enough layer of fresh fruit. It’s similar to your average jam crumble bar but with all the fresh fruit around, you’ll be reaping the benefits of baking the “jam” layer right in the oven. Grab yourself a container or two, and a stalk of rhubarb if you’d like (or any other berry–this recipe is flexible on that front) and make my favorite summer cookie dessert. They keep well in the fridge for a few days which make them great for taking out and wrapping for an on the go snack. Loosely adapted from my other streusel bars, all I do is change up the fillings and flavorings. Lemon and zest is always there, but I love some ginger, cardamom, and am itching to try rosemary. To make them, you’ll need just sugar, flour and butter and egg and leavening for the crust and crumbs, and your flavorings (zest, extract, herbs…) and for the filling your fruit, a little sugar and cornstarch. I usually sub in cornmeal or oat flour for 1/3 of the flour in the crust. Enjoy!
STRAWBERRY RHUBARB STREUSEL BARS
scant 1/2 cup ShopRite granulated sugar
scant 1/2 cup ShopRite brown sugar OR granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups ShopRite unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup oat flour (grind rolled oats until fine in grinder) OR Cornmeal, not too course ground
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp ground ginger or cardamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cold unsalted ShopRite butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
Juice (2 T) of one lemon
1/2 tsp fine grated fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger
4 cups total fresh strawberries or other berries + rhubarb (chopped 1/4 inch)
scant 1/4 cup granulated sugar
scant 1/4 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch- all natural
-Oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 9×13 inch pan.
-In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. -Use a pastry cutter or fingers to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat roughly 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan.
-In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the fruit. Sprinkle the fruit mix evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
-Bake 45-60 minutes, until top is slightly brown. (This took an extra 10 to 15 minutes in my oven.) Cool completely (fridge is good for this) before cutting into squares. Once cut, store in fridge, bring to room temp to eat.