I'm a sucker for a crumb topping. To my taste, that crumbly top is far superior to double crusts on pies. Slap it on top of a bar cookie and it doesn't matter what fruit you fill it with, it's my new favorite. It's best still warmish out of the oven when bits of the topping are still pleasantly crunchy and the juicy fruit underneath hasn't yet seeped through. No matter, I'll eat them the next day and the day after that regardless if the top still has some crunch because deep down, I just plain love fruit desserts.
And what I like even more about these kinds of bar cookies is that the bottom crust and the top crumb are the same thing, not two different parts; half gets pressed into the bottom and the rest gets sprinkled over the fruit, making for a stupidly simple preparation. And that lemon zest in there - it's oh so sunny - and makes the whole thing just scream summer picnics. Or afternoon snack. Or what's more likely with me, a teeny nibble with (or before) my coffee in the morning.
I don't bake nearly as often as I'd like or nearly enough to tackle all the recipes have saved in an unimaginably large bookmark folder and/or all the dogeared pages in my cookbooks so when I do, I'm usually motivated by either already having all the ingredients on hand when a mood strikes or there's a seasonal ingredient that I won't be able to get if I hold off for too long. Truth be told, I should have used fresh blueberries for this, since they're in season and all over the markets, but what I had already was a bag of mixed frozen berries. Yep, I'm lazy like that. And I was pressed for time (they were being dispatched to friends later that afternoon). But as a testament to the recipe, they were still as good as I'd imagine they would be had I used fresh berries. At least I'm sure no one who ate them could tell the difference, and that's all that really matters. That they were good and much enjoyed.
P.S. How fitting that I leave you this weekend with a dessert, because you see, it's my birthday on Saturday! And who doesn't like to celebrate with dessert! Albeit, mine will be a cake, but feel free to consume a sugary confection on my behalf sometime in the next few days. We'll celebrate together!
Berry Crumble Bars
Adapted from All Recipes
I actually made these with a frozen berry mixture (still using 4 cups, measured when still frozen) and it turned out great. For fear of sog and oozing, I defrosted the berries first and drained off most of the liquid before mixing it with the sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch and everything turned out just peachy. Although I'm itching to make them again with fresh blueberries.
Makes about 32 small squares
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
In another bowl, stir together the 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.