Monday, August 1, 2011

Blueberry crumb bars

Blueberry crumb bars

It's blueberry season!

Blueberry season is exciting, 'cause blueberries are delicious in so many things, and 'cause my boyfriend and I found a blueberry farm not too far away where we can go picking. This year, we spent hours out in their fields, sampling the different varieties and picking buckets of berries. It's times like that when I sort of marvel at nature, at the fact that while money doesn't grow on trees, food totally can -- we stood there in the field, reaching into the bushes and coming away with fistfuls of food, and I felt very lucky to have a place like that nearby, especially since it was a perfect day for picking, with the bushes not picked over at all.

It probably helped that we decided to go way over on the other side of the fields, away from the crowds and toward the variety of berries we like best, the Little Giants. Picking those felt like an insider secret, and now, I'm sharing that secret with you -- they might be little, but they sure do pack a giant flavor, so sweet and delicious, so if your local berry farm has Little Giants, get those, definitely.

But I found a new favorite this year, too. I didn't want to pick just Little Giants, 'cause after all, I was intending to make jam (perhaps I'll blog about that later, once I've had a chance to open a jar and see how it came out), so I figured some bigger berries would probably be well suited for that. I came across a section of Sierra blueberries, and I have to say, if you're looking for bigger berries, those are pretty darned good, too, nice and sweet and plump.

For this recipe, I ended up using a mix of both varieties, 'cause I wanted to use the bigger ones for a soft, baked berry layer, but there were some little berries in the fridge that I needed to use up. As for how the bars tasted, I wouldn't actually know -- I took them to work, and a whole pan of them vanished before I got a taste! The rave reviews of my coworkers, and the fact that they actually ate that many, would seem to indicate that this recipe's a real crowd-pleaser, and I'll certainly make this again sometime (and save one out for myself this time!).

Blueberry Crumb Bars
From Smitten Kitchen

1 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 c flour
1 c cold butter
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
Zest and juice of a lemon (or just juice, if you only have a pre-zested lemon like I did... or 2 1/2 tbsp of the bottled stuff)
4 c blueberries
1/2 c sugar
4 tsp cornstarch

1. Whisk together the sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and lemon zest (if using) in a good-sized bowl.
2. Cut in the butter and egg with a pastry blender (or forks or your fingers, if you don't have one) until uniformly crumbly.
3. Press half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of a greased 9-by-13 pan.
4. In another bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently stir in the blueberries. Pour into the pan and spread out evenly.
5. Crumble the remaining dough over the berries.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the top is slightly brown. Cool completely in pan before cutting.

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