Sunday, January 11, 2009

Raspberry Breakfast Bars

When I first started looking through food blogs this week, this recipe from Lottie and Doof, and originally from a book called Baked, struck me as a particularly beautiful and delicious one.

Raspberry Breakfast Bars from Lottie and Doof

For the crust and crumb:

* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
* 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the raspberry filling:

* 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
* 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen
* 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled.

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.

Reserve 1 1/4 cup of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 15 minutes . Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.

Make the raspberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated.

Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

Notes: I used frozen raspberries from TJ's and let them defrost in a colander for a while before making the filling. Again, aluminum foil instead of parchment paper -- no problem there. I didn't feel like waiting to cool the crust (which didn't make crumbs, really), so I stuck the pan outside on the porch for a while in the 54 degree crisp January weather. When I first put the filling in the crust, I got worried that I hadn't used enough raspberries (I guesstimated about a pound at around 16 oz), and almost decided to add more, but chickened out and spread the raspberries around on the crust instead. Looked good enough to me! And proportionally, the filling to crust ration turned out great.

Overall, mine didn't come out quite as beautifully as Lottie and Doof's -- when I combined the butter with the other crust ingredients, it didn't make little crumbs. I think this has something to do with the temperature of the butter -- too warm, maybe? -- and it became more of a crumble than bars. While the bars were baking, they didn't really seem to congeal or stick together as a unit. Disappointing, because I wanted to be able to transport them easily, say, for breakfasts on the bus on the way to school, or in the morning at the hospital.

In an attempt to remedy this situation, I decided to put the bars under the broiler for a minute or two.

It was thirty seconds too long. Poor babies got burned. Even though I was standing right there watching them! Dang.

Nonetheless, the broiler was definitely what they needed to stick together a bit better. When I cut them into bars, they stayed bar-like.

Next time: broiler for only a minute. One single minute. Also, figure out the deal with the butter and crumb-making.

Despite the consistency issues, it sure tasted mighty fine.

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