I’ve been blogging for nearly two months and haven’t posted anything sweet!! Oh, the shame. I’ll start with one of my ultimate go-to desserts – Blueberry Crumb Bars.
I found this recipe two years ago when I organized bake sales for my girls’ school. Every other month I’d bake up a storm, and bully my friends into doing the same. After a while I developed a nice little baking repertoire – vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting, brownies and blueberry bars. You’d think with all the buttercream and the chocolate that the cupcakes and brownies would be the favorite. But no, I received so many complements on the blueberry bars and requests for the recipe, I knew I had a winner.
It’s a Smitten Kitchen recipe – one of my favorite food blogs and I love her cookbook as well. Her recipes are fool-proof, which isn’t always the case these days with the proliferation of cookbooks and online recipes. I’ve taken her recipe and tweaked it a bit, the main change being the use of frozen blueberries instead of fresh as they are a lot less expensive, they’re always in my freezer, and for baking I’ve not noticed a discernible difference between fresh and frozen.
I love that the crumb topping doubles as the crust. Mix up the topping, divide it in half, pat half of it in the pan, add your blueberry mixture and then sprinkle the other half on top. So easy! What makes these bars stand out is the lemon – both the zest and the juice.
Which brings me to the topic of my two favorite kitchen gadgets – the Microplane zester and the Amco juicer. For anyone who has taken my cooking classes, a class doesn’t go by where I don’t use both of these tools and rave about how much I love them. I am not a “gadgety” type, primarily because of lack of storage in my Euro kitchen, but also because I have a problem paying money for tools with only single, occasional uses. In addition to zesting citrus, the Microplane grates parmesan, nutmeg, chocolate, etc. The Amco juicer is the easiest way I’ve found to juice lemons and limes. They both do their jobs extremely well and don’t take up much space. I highly recommend.
Ok, I’m off my gadget high-horse. Now go bake some bars whether there’s a bake sale or not.
Blueberry Crumb Bars (makes 2 dozen larger bars or 3 dozen smaller bars)
Note: These can also pull double-duty as a breakfast sweet. Also, if you have fresh blueberries on hand, feel free to use them in place of frozen.,
3 cups (375 grams) plain, all-purpose flour
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 sticks (225 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch/cornflour
4 cups (525 grams) frozen blueberries
Preheat the oven to 375º F (190º C). Grease a large baking dish (9” x 13″ or 23cm x 33cm) using either nonstick spray or butter.
In a food processor, combine the flour, 1 cup sugar and baking powder. Add the salt and lemon zest and pulse to mix. Add the butter a few pieces at a time, and pulse until the mixture crumbles into pieces about twice the size of peas. Add the egg and pulse to combine. (Alternatively, you can use a pastry cutter, a fork or your hands to combine the mixture. Use a large bowl.). Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Store at room temperature or in refrigerator.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen