strawberry rhubarb crisp bars

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp Bars
Adapted from One Bowl Baking

I’m starting to think that these bars might be magic. First, they taste like dessert, not health food, thank goodness. But, they just happen to be pretty low in sugar, butter and use a chock-ton of oats. You could replace the butter with coconut oil to make these dairy-free, and as there’s no egg in it, they’d also then be vegan. You could use white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour to make them even more wholesome, and although I didn’t audition it, I suspect a gluten-free baking flour mix would work here too, because the plain flour isn’t a majority ingredient. You could eat them warm with a scoop of ice cream or cold for breakfast with a dollop of plain yogurt. And you can make them with whatever is in season; the original recipe calls for thinly sliced apples and adds cinnamon to the crumb mixture but too impatient for spring/summer, I used strawberries and rhubarb. Oh, and did I mention you make the whole recipe in your baking pan so it literally could not be faster? Seriously, what are you waiting for?

* Updated with two changes to reduce softness 5/17/14: I did a bunch of retesting and have come to the following conclusions: the bars are more crisp and cookie-like (as photographed here, and sadly, not what everyone was getting, based on comments) without the heaped 1/8 teaspoon baking soda and with an additional 1/4 cup (and even up to 2 tablespoons more, yes, really) flour. These amounts are now reflected below. They’re tender when they come out of the oven but once chilled in the fridge, become cookie-like in their crisp base; I recommend keeping them in the fridge. I’m so sorry if any of you were disappointed in these bars; I hope you’ll find the recipe now to be as wonderful as promised.

Yield: 16 small bars, as shown, or 8 large ones; recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9×13-inch baking pan, where they will come out a little thicker

1 cup (80 grams) rolled oats
3/4 cup (95 grams) plus up to 2 tablespoons (15 grams) extra all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (95 grams) light brown sugar
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional, but helps firm up the filling)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar, divided
1 cup (125 grams) small-diced rhubarb (from about 1 1/2 medium stalks)
1 cup (155 grams) small-diced strawberries
Powdered sugar, for decoration, if desired

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. For easy removal, line bottom and two sides of 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. No need to bother (and no greasing needed) if you plan to serve them right in the pan, as I did.

Place oats, 3/4 cup flour, brown sugar and salt in bottom of baking pan and mix. Pour melted butter over, and stir until clumps form. If the clumps feel soft or look overly damp, add the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Set aside 1/2 cup of the crumble mixture. Press the rest of the crumb mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan.

Spread half the fruit over the crust. Sprinkle it evenly with cornstarch, then lemon juice, and 1/2 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Spread remaining fruit over this, and top with second 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Scatter reserved crumbs over fruit and bake bars for 30 to 40 minutes (firmer fruits will take longer), until fruit is bubbly and crisp portion is golden and smells toasty and amazing.

Let cool in pan; I do this in the fridge, where they become crisp once chilled (less so at room temperature). Cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Store leftovers in fridge.


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