somehow it is now the beginning of may, the end of architecture school(!), and the middle of strawberry season. i made these over charrette week for some studio mates in need of some quick energy but wanted something a little more wholesome. these bars reminded everyone of granola, but in a good way. i made some quick strawberry-cranberry jam-like filling for these (based on the ingredients i had on hand) but i imagine that the fruit filling can change based on the season. an all cranberry and orange version would be a welcome change from all of the usual holiday cookies. a blackberry with lime filled cookie with good vanilla ice cream could be a great ending for a july evening supper. the original version of these bars come from the ever popular Baked cookbook and were titles “raspberry breakfast bars.” not sure if these would make a the most healthy breakfast, but they do contain fruit and oatmeal, at least.
thinking about berries always reminds me of those pacific northwest summers and buying half flats of delicious mixed berries (boysenberries, marionberries, and loganberries, oh my!) from my favorite farmers market stand and eating them while sitting on the curb until my fingers are stained bright purple. while i can’t wait to move and settle in seattle, houston will always hold a place in my heart. a tribute to the city of live oaks, expansive freeways, and all the tex-mex, viet, and indian food you could want coming soon.
ps- these would be easy to make vegan by swapping out the butter for either earth balance or coconut oil.
strawberry oat bars
crust and topping:
1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose)
1 1/2 c oatmeal (old fashion rolled oats or quick oats)
1/2 c sucanant or dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
light grating of nutmeg
1/4 c maple syrup (grade b if you can find it)
1 stick plus 2 tbsp butter, chilled and cubed
1 pound strawberries, hulled if fresh. i used frozen strawberries and they worked well.(i also used a handful of frozen cranberries because i was sort on strawberries)
3 tbsp to 1/4 c brown sugar, depending on sweetness of berries
1 small lemon, juiced and zested
1 tbsp of cornstarch or arrowroot starch
preheat the oven to 350. grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
for the crust and topping:
combine flour, oatmeal, sucanant or brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. cut in the cold butter until loose crumbs form. stir in the maple syrup.* i may have also stirred in a tiny splash of milk at this stage also, but dont quite remember. if the dough looks too dry, add it. if not ignore this.
reserve about 1.5 cups of this mixture. press the rest of it into the greased pan. bake about 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
meanwhile, make the filling:
in a small saucepan, heat together the berries, zest, and sugar. cook until the berries begin to break down. stir together the cornstarch or arrowroot starch and the lemon juice and stir it into the berry mixture. bring to a boil and stir until thick. remov from heat and cool. you could also stir in a tbsp of butter here if you want a richer filling.
once the crust is baked, pour on the filling. sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture and sprinkle with some sesame seeds or crushed nuts, if desired. bake 35-40 minutes, rotating every 15 minutes until the filling is bubbly on the edges. cool and slice into bars.