In the quick couple weeks when summer fruit ripens around here, I have a hard time doing anything but nibbling straight from the pint box. Ordinarily, the high price of local/organic/ripe berries prevents me from overbuying, but every so often a couple berries remain after my morning snack. This recipe is for those times. The best local/organic/ripe berries don’t last very long, which means that fresh berries become leftovers in almost no time. And leftovers this good cannot be wasted.
So that’s the moment when it’s time to bake, in my opinion. But not anything too complicated: it’s hot, there are pools to sit by, etc. That translates to a cornmeal cake or maybe my grandma’s oil cake. Or, now, a petite batch of blueberry crumb bars, custom fit to that scant cup of berries you have left.
Low enough on ingredients that you could probably whip up the bars using the pantry of a poorly stocked rental house, these buttery bars pair nutty whole wheat flour (though you could obviously use white) with lemon-scented berries. The top crumble is the same dough as the bottom crust. A longish time in the oven turns sweet berries into jam, practically, making this a good choice also if those bluebs were a little more sour than anticipated.
Cool these completely before trying to cut them. Unless you want to pretend you made a pudding cake: spoon portions into small bowls and let scoops of ice cream melt on top.
- For the crust and topping:
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- Big pinch salt
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in thin slices
- For the filling:
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or just use more white)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 9-by-4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar, baking powder, flour, and salt. Use your fingers to crumble in the butter. Add up to 3 teaspoons water, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing all the while with a spoon, just until the dough comes together. Press slightly more than half the dough into the prepared pan.
- In another small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt and stir together. Add the blueberries and stir once more. Arrange the berries on the crust.
- Crumble the rest of the dough on top. Bake the bars for 45 to 50 minutes, until the berries are bubbling and the top is golden. Cool completely, then cut into 6 bars. Store in the fridge