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Sometimes you want a fruit dessert that isn’t as much fuss as a pie, is more easy to share with limited utensils than a crisp or a crumble, and definitely doesn’t involve the chilling and rolling and folding of individual turnovers (even if strawberry rhubarb turnovers or strawberry rhubarb crisp with oat flour can be amazing).
That’s where these strawberry crumb bars come in.
They’re incredibly easy to make. Pinky swear!
The dough, which serves as both the bottom shortbread crust and the crumb topping, comes together in a few minutes in the food processor.
It’s buttery and melt-in-your-mouth from the powdered sugar, and in this case it’s brightened with a bit of lemon zest which goes well with strawberries.
The bottom layer of crust gets patted into a parchment-lined pan. There’s no need to locate your rolling pin (or, uh, repurpose a wine bottle) for these.
While the bottom layer is baking to a lovely golden brown, you slice the strawberries and toss them with a bit of sugar and tapioca powder to thicken the mix.
I like to add ground coriander in with the strawberries. The flavor is subtle here. If you didn’t know it was there you probably wouldn’t even notice it, but it works here to bring out an extra level of strawberry-ness to the strawberries here.
It serves as a sort of flavor signal booster rather than complexifier here.
You, can, of course, leave it out if you prefer, but if you have coriander in your pantry you might be surprised by how well it works with strawberries.
After the bottom crust has baked, the strawberries get spread in an even layer over the crust. It’s a thin layer of fruit here, just enough to be obviously there, but not enough to bog down the bars into a soggy mess.
Then the rest of the dough gets sprinkled over the top in clumps and the whole thing goes into the the oven.
There, the strawberries turn soft and jammy, and the topping turns into lovely golden, buttery, lemon-scented crumbs.
And meanwhile, the kitchen smells fantastic.
After they come out of the oven, you really need to let them cool before slicing them.
The cooler they are, the more cleanly they’ll slice. (If you’re working in a hot kitchen, you can even chill them in the refrigerator before slicing.)
On the day that they’re made, the bottom is crisp. After sitting for a day, the bars are still lovely, but as is the nature of anything with a substantial amount of fruit in it, the moisture slowly seeps into the crust and softens it.
They’ll stay firmer and a bit crisper if you store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eat them cold. But I actually quite like them a few days later at room temperature when they’re softer and chewier.
Especially when they’re just sitting there on the counter, waiting to be eaten for breakfast.
I’ve made versions of these with different fruit. They work beautifully with raspberries and blueberries and thinly sliced peaches.
They’re easy to customize to whatever you have around. I’ve made the crust with and without citrus zest (I like to pair blueberries with lime zest, I like to add some fresh ginger to the raspberries, and for peaches I forego citrus and add a splash of vanilla to the dough).
But the same basic template works for all of them.
Now you’re prepared for crumb bars whenever you want them.
For the dough
- 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- zest of one lemon
- 1/2 cup (60 g) confectioners' sugar
- 1 cup (226 g, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, sliced into 1-inch chunks
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling
- 4 cups (about 500 g, 1 lb) strawberries, hulled and sliced thin
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- juice of one lemon
- 3 tablespoons (25 g) tapioca starch
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- Add the flour to the bowl of a food processor.
- Add the granulated sugar to a small mixing bowl and zest the lemon directly over the sugar and stir them together to help release the lemon oils. Add to the food processor.
- Add the confectioners' sugar and chunks of butter to the food processor and process for about 30 seconds, or until the butter is in pea-sized crumbs. Add the egg and process for another 30 seconds or until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. It should hold together if you pinch it into a clump.
- Divide the dough mixture in half, and press one half of the dough mixture in an even layer into the prepared baking pan.
- Bake the bottom layer until lightly golden, about 15-18 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Add the strawberries, sugar, coriander, lemon juice, and tapioca starch to a medium mixing bowl and stir until all the strawberries are coated.
- When the crust is baked, let it cool for about 5 minutes, then spread the strawberries in an even layer over it. It will be a thin layer that should just barely cover the whole surface (don't worry if it's not perfect, but do try to get the fruit all the way to the edges of the pan).
- Sprinkle the remaining dough mixture over the top. Pinch together some clumps of the dough to form larger crumbs here and there in the topping for textural variation.
- Bake until the crumb topping is golden and the fruit filling is bubbling, about 25-30 minutes.
- Let cool completely, about 30 minutes, before slicing.
These are best on the day they are made, but they're still delicious, if a bit softer for the next couple of days. In hot weather, store these in the refrigerator.
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USA Pan Bare Aluminum Bakeware 1110RC-BB 9 x13 Rectangular Baking Pan Warp-Resistant, Rust-Proof Bakeware
Cuisinart DLC-10SY Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor, White
Microplane 46020 Premium Classic Series Zester Grater 18/8 Black
GIR: Get It Right Premium Silicone Mini Spatula, 8 Inches, Lime
Baking Parchment Paper - Set of 100 Half-Sheets
Simply Organic - Coriander - 2.29 oz.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 107Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 48mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 11gProtein: 2g