By Sarah Lagrotteria
Last week I shared a photo of my first attempt at making blueberry bars. I had looked online for a basic, well-received recipe and made a few changes—subbing butter for lard, cutting the fat from the equivalent of 2 sticks of butter down to 1, and adding lemon juice to the berries and lemon zest to the crust to brighten the overall flavor.
The result was pretty with its pillowy clouds of butter crunch crust, but very rich and sweet. Not really my style.
Round two was a mix of the original and my basic crumble recipe. I traded the white flour for stone-ground whole wheat, the white sugar for a combo of brown sugar and agave and added oats and cinnamon. When it’s hot from the oven, fragrant and bubbling, it seems unreasonable to ask friends to wait until it cools into bars. So I served it to three pals as a hot crumble, asking only that they leave enough for Lydia and I to taste.
Here’s what was left:
Lydia then tested the recipe a third time to see if it would work as well made vegan. She used Earth Balance instead of butter and added walnuts. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
You taste blueberries tart and sweet and crumbly brown oat—a bit of oven-baked summer that is infinitely more intriguing than the original butter and sugar bomb.
It’s satisfying as breakfast or dessert. And great for picnics, potlucks and barbecues.
Whole-Grain Blueberry Bars
2 cups dry oats (both rolled and quick-cooking work just fine)
1-1/4 cups whole-wheat flour (can also use AP)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, cold and cut into small cubes. Can substitute Earth Balance
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups blueberries, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon agave
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 375. Grease an 8×8 baking square or similarly sized baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Use your fingers or two knives to “cut” in the butter or margarine until the crumble is sandy in texture. Mix in the walnuts.
Pat half the mixture into an even layer on the bottom of the pan and bake until lightly golden brown, 13-15 min.
In a separate bowl, combine the berries, agave, lemon juice and cornstarch. Gently toss until no cornstarch is visible. Spread the berries over the baked crust then top with an even layer of the remaining crumble. Bake until crust is golden brown and berries begin popping, 20-25 minutes.
To make bars, let cool completely then chill for 1 hour before attempting to cut. Otherwise, spoon out hot or cold as a fruit crumble.