This is the bar recipe I turn to when spring arrives. The sort of inspired, super-simple recipe that I love: bright raspberries and tart cherries layered between a perfect oatmeal-almond shortbread crust. Yup, pretty much bar cookie heaven.
One might think it is the perfect dessert or snack, but let’s pause to contemplate this. The fruit/oatmeal/almond combo actually works as a breakfast food. Just ask my teacher colleagues – a particularly educated, nutritionally savvy lot. I wandered into the morning staff meeting clutching a cup of coffee (trying desperately to caffeinate myself into coherence), armed with a box full of these babies, and they all disappeared by the time the meeting wrapped up at 8 a.m. I’m not sure I was yet fully caffeinated and coherent, but I was awake enough to know that is still breakfast time. So, that makes them a breakfast food… right?
I’ve been recovering from a bit of a food-blogging conference hangover all week. Not the alcohol-induced kind… more the sleep-deprivation-information-overload kind. In the best possible way. Over the weekend, I flew off to Minnesota to hang with a crew of awesome bloggers at the Pinch of Yum Photography Workshop. I never fully understood how to take my camera off “auto,” so I decided it was high time to address that little to-do item… and came home inspired to address a few dozen others.
Let me tell you, Lindsay runs an AMAZING workshop… It was SO much fun. And even better to visit old friends in Minnesota, who are pretty darn awesome. I’ve decided there are few things in life better than connecting with old friends… other than, perhaps, getting to spend time with the kids of old friends.
As I’ve been obsessing about the look and feel of my photos (beyond the mechanics, which still need a bit of work as well), I decided to spend a few blog posts practicing all I learned by re-shooting photos that were pretty darn terrible the first time I posted the recipe.
And I decided to start with these bars… Aren’t they pretty? The tart raspberry, cherry filling oozes out between the layers of buttery, oatmeal shortbread… and did I mention they are super-simple to make? The hardest part about shooting these was not eating the entire batch!
I think my photography has improved already…
Raspberry-Cherry Crumble Bars
Adapted (just barely) from Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table, The Art & Soul of Baking
1 ¾ cups flour
1 ¾ cups old-fashioned or quick oats (not instant)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) cold butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
One 16-ounce jar good quality raspberry jam
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup sliced almonds, preferably dry-roasted
Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
Mix the crumble dough: Place the flour, oats, brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on low speed until evenly mixed. Add the cold butter and mix on low speed until the mixture looks like wet sand and starts to form clumps, 5-6 minutes.
Bake the bottom crust: Divide the dough in half. Pat one half into an even layer in the prepared pan. Set the other half aside. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and crisp.
Make the filling: Empty the jar of jam into a medium bowl and stir well to break up any lumps. Add the cherries and stir until well mixed and all the cherries are coated with jam. Spread evenly over the bottom crust, all the way to the edges.
Add the almonds to the remaining dough and sprinkle evenly over the filling. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
Transfer to a rack and cool completely, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Cut into bars and serve.