Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Diary of a Secret Housewife: Raspberry Crumb Bars

The weather has dipped to a ridiculous 30-something degrees here in Boston, and since our thermometer is wonky, I'm usually hobo-ing it up in front of my stove or oven to keep my fingers from going numb.

Of course, I can't stand in front of an empty oven, so I might as well bake something.  And since I had a jar of raspberry jam leftover from the baked sufganiyot, I figured that something might as well be these raspberry crumb bars from Martha's Baking Handbook.


These raspberry crumb bars taste -- and look -- kind of like a summer day: a layer of tart jam (or chocolate, caramel, or lemon curd -- your imagination's the limit) sandwiched between a layer of crispy shortbread and a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread crumble.  It's like a decadent fruit cobbler in bar form.

They require a little bit of effort, in that you have to cut the butter into the dough mixture by hand using a pastry blender, but I find that kind of work very satisfying.  Plus you get a good upper-body work out, which absolves you from any guilt you might feel eating a whole platter of these bars.  Of course, if you're feeling lazy, no one will know if you use a food processor.


Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook.  My changes are in italics.

Ingredients:


  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/4 cups (11 ounces) blanched almonds, very finely ground (or sub with almond flour)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups raspberry, apricot or strawberry jam
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter a 15-by-10-inch rimmed baking sheet.  Line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the long sides.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together ground almonds, flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  using your fingers, squeeze the mixture together to create pea-size crumbs with a few larger clumps.

Transfer half of crumb mixture (about 4.5 cups) to prepared baking sheet; set aside remaining mixture.  Cover with a sheet of parchment paper.  Using the back of a large spoon, press dough evenly into pan, lifting the parchment occasionally to ensure it doesn't stick.  With a wine bottle or small rolling pin, roll along the length of the pan to smooth dough.  Dough should be firmly packed, with no holes or cracks.  Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until lightly golden all over, 15 to 10 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Evenly spread jam (or a layer of caramel, chocolate, or lemon curd) over cooled crust.  Scatter with remaining crumb mixture, squeezing some of the mixture so that large clumps are visible and evenly distributed over the top of the jam.  Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the topping begins to turn light golden brown (the jam should not be too dark), 20 to 22 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen; using two wide spatulas, transfer to a cutting board and cut into 3-by-2-inch bars.  (Removal should be easy because of the parchment "handles.")  Bars can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

6 comments:

lavenderpug December 8, 2010 at 10:52 AM  

looks delicious! i agree, cold weather puts me in the baking mood as well. not that i've been baking, i'm just in the mood.

Kellis,  December 8, 2010 at 12:00 PM  

You just know a recipe is going to be fantastic when it starts out with 3 sticks of butter!!

BigAppleNosh December 8, 2010 at 2:07 PM  

These look delish! They'd last about 5 minutes in our apartment.

Karen December 9, 2010 at 7:38 AM  

Oh - you just knew I had some more of that yummy lemon curd left... I really need to get back on my diet but clearly it will have to wait.

Karen

p.s. knew you'd dig those choc cream cheese sufganiyot!
p.p.s. you are invited to dinner any time! :-)

Anonymous,  February 8, 2011 at 10:05 PM  

I don't like almonds, do you think I could substitute oats/oat flour?

Mrs. Hot Cocoa February 8, 2011 at 10:10 PM  

Hmm. I don't see why not. Though if you use almond flour, it really doesn't taste like almonds at all.

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