I was apparently on a Smitten Kitchen kick last weekend as I made yet another recipe from her blog. This recipe actually comes from the cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. I’ve had that cookbook in my amazon wishlist for at least 3 years, and this week I decided to finally purchase it. You see, I have easily 4+ dozen cookbooks and this is after selling a dozen or so back to Half Price Books 2 months ago!
I love my cookbooks. I’m not a big collector of items (although some would beg to differ that I like to collect shoes), but cookbooks are definitely an item I like to collect. I’m just so bad about actually utilizing them! I’ll flip through the book immediately upon purchasing it, drool all over the pages and make mental notes of all the things I want to make. Sadly, the book then makes its way to my bookshelf (which is now packed to its maximum capacity), and it rarely gets looked at again. :-( This also applies to my Bon Appétit and Food & Wine magazines. *sigh*
I blame this partly on the fact that the web is jam-packed full of great recipes (a lot of which are pulled from said cookbooks/magazines), so the advent of food blogs has kind of taken some of the work out for me. I can rely on fellow food bloggers to try the recipes first, report back to me (and millions of other people) and then I can decide if I really want to try that recipe.
Regardless, I’ve decided I’m going to make it one of my personal goals to not allow this to happen and to actually use my cookbooks as frequently as possible. A shocking and new concept, I know. A lot of it stems from my 2013 resolution to de-clutter my mind and my home. I figure it’s kinda silly to have all these objects in my house if I’m not really using them. So while they look all pretty and fancy on my bookshelf (and make me look like a pro in the kitchen), they’re really just taking up room. Ok, enough about that. Let’s move on to the yummy recipe.
My local Sprouts store had berries on sale 3/$5, so I knew I needed to take advantage of that sale! I quickly snatched up some raspberries and got to work on making these:
Yes, I assure you, they taste as good as they look!! The base crust is similar to a Nature Valley Granola Bar, except it’s not so hard that it cuts the roof of your mouth (am I the only one with that problem?). The filling is tart and bursting with berry flavor. Overall, it’s the perfect symbiosis of sweet and sour with a touch of cinnamon (i.e. Heaven).
Now, I would never lead you all astray and so I’ll be honest with you – these bars got really soggy on me the 2nd day. :-( Not at all what I was expecting!! Upon reading through the reviews at Smitten Kitchen, it appears many others had the same issue. I’m betting even more did as well and they either didn’t care or posted their comments on day 1 when the bars were still crisp. Either way, I loved the flavor of these so much that I’m still going to post the recipe, and I promise you all before summer’s end that I will do another test batch with some tweaks to see if I can lengthen the shelf life of these wonderfully perfect bars.
Yields: 30 bars (or more/less depending on the size you cut them)
Crust and Crumb:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar*
1 1/4 cups rolled oats*
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour*
1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan and line with parchment paper, allowing the parchment to overhang on the sides to assist with later removal.
2. Combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the cold butter and pulse until loose crumbs form. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the mixture and set aside.
3. Put the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and press down to form an even layer. Be sure to completely cover the pan from side to side. Bake the crust until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
4. Place raspberries, sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour in a bowl and toss gently to coat the berries. (Note: Immediately toss together or else the flour might form little “dough balls.”)
5. Spread the raspberry filling on top of the cooled crust and sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling. Bake for 35-45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges. (Note: This took closer to 60 mins for me.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Be sure bars have cooled completely before cutting. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days. (See note above in my intro about the shelf life.)
1. I don’t use dark brown sugar often as it can produce a darker-colored product than I desire, but in this recipe I highly recommend using it! If you prefer light and don’t want to purchase a whole bag of dark brown sugar, you can just add a few teaspoons of molasses to get the same flavor.
2. I used quick oats for the crust/crumb, but next time I’m going to try old-fashioned to see if that helps.
3. I plan on substituting 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch for flour in the filling. Cornstarch stabilizes better and absorbs moisture better than flour.