I made these bars awhile back for the DCCX race (which happened before I started this blog, so there’s no race report). They were good, and people seemed to like them, but they needed a little tweaking.
This week, I needed some, ahem, added encouragement to help my colleagues show up to a meeting for my PhD program’s newsletter, so I thought it would be a great time to bust out these bars for a second shot. Sweet, crumbly crust sandwiched around a moist, flavorful filling… that would make me show up for a meeting! As an added bonus, they’re quick and easy and can be whipped up any old weeknight while you’re making dinner.
These bars are versatile in terms of what fruit you can use, and I like the fact that they’re made with whole-wheat flour and olive oil: it takes the guilt factor down a notch or two.
Start by preparing your filling. Here, I used one 12-oz package of frozen mixed berries. You can use fresh fruit as well, or a mix of frozen/fresh. Add 1-2 tsp of sugar (depending on how much you like sweet fillings and what fruit you’re using – I don’t like mine super sweet so I went lower). Stir in 1T of corn starch until well-incorporated (no chunks!) and set aside.
Pre-heat your oven to 375F. Butter or lightly oil a 9X9 glass baking dish. The first time I made these, I made the mistake of using a small-ish roasting pan (pictured on the left). The sides of this pan weren’t high enough, and the bars came out too crumbly because I couldn’t get an even crust on the bottom / the crumbs on top weren’t contained by the high sides. I’m here to help you learn from my mistakes! Use the glass pan (the one on the right)!
Mix the crumble crust: combine 2c whole-wheat flour, 1/2 c oats, 1 c sugar, 1 stick softened butter, 1/2 c olive oil, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 tsp baking powder in a bowl or mixer. Mix until well combined. The mix should form soft crumbs. **Confession: I totally forgot to add the oats in this batch! You should add them, they will be missed (but people will still eat your bars).**
Pack approximately 1/2 the crust mixture into the bottom of your pan and press down with your hand or a spatula until you have a smooth, hard-packed layer.
Add the fruit filling mix evenly on top of the crust layer, then gently sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture on top of the fruit. Very lightly press down (not too hard or you won’t have crumbs!) to meld the fruit layer with the crumb top. Stand back and admire your handiwork.
Pop that pan in the 375F oven for 40-50 minutes. Bake until the fruit filling bubbles a little out the top of the crumb crust, and the top gets golden looking and delicious.
Now comes the hard part: you MUST wait until the bars are completely cooled before slicing them. I know. This is horrible. They smell soooo good, and I wouldn’t begrudge anyone who just dumps a pint of ice cream on that pan and attacks it with a fork. Jameson may have threatened as much.
Once the bars are cooled, cut them into rectangles (approx. 1” by 2” is what I happened to do this time) and enjoy!
Recipe: Fruit Crumble Bars
Prep/2, Leftovers/5, Guilt Factor/3, Overall/4.5
12 oz of fresh or frozen (thawed) fruit, cut into small pieces if needed
1-2 tsp of sugar
1 T of corn starch
2 c whole wheat flour
1 stick softened butter
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c old-fashioned oats
1 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
To prepare the bars:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375F.
2. Mix fruit filling. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well-incorporated and set aside.
3. Prepare the crumble crust. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a pastry blender, or use a mixer to combine completely. Should form soft crumbs.
4. Build the bars. Pack about 1/2 the crumble crust into the bottom of a buttered 9X9 glass pan. This will be the bottom crust, and should be packed down using your hand or a spatula. Evenly spread the fruit filling on top of this layer. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 of the crumble crust on top of the fruit, gently pressing down to meld the crumbs with the fruit layer.
5. Bake at 375F for 40-50 min. Fruit filling should be bubbling, and top crumb crust should be golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing into bars.