Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Feeling BLUE

Fall has officially arrived and gone are Summer's warm days and balmy nights. Time to trade the board shorts and flip flops in for cardigans and corduroys. No more fun in the sun for you mister, don the flannel and get ready to hunker down for the long Winter.

Summer is one of my favorite seasons and one of the best ways I've found to hold on to some of that Summer Luvin' is by freezing or canning its seasonal fruits. Freezing and canning allows you to enjoy those peaches, plums and berries long after they've become an out-of-season memory. Who doesn't enjoy a fresh berry tart during the bitter cold of January? 

When it comes to berries, blueberries are one of my favorites. At their peak (from July through September), I'll buy several cartons and squirrel away as many of the little buggers as possible. Folded into muffins and pancakes or front and center in cobblers and pies, you'll find me throwing them in everything from my morning oatmeal to my post-workout smoothie.  

FYI, here are a few factoids for you berry lovers: blueberries are only second to strawberries in popularity and blueberries are considered by many nutritionists as a "superfood" because they contain anti-oxidants which help with memory and cognitive function. "Where did I put my keys again?"

Blueberry Crumb Bars

makes 30 to 40 2 x 2-inch bars

for the crust:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
grated zest of one lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg, slightly beaten

for the filling:
3 1/2 cups fresh or frozen whole blueberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar (use less or more depending upon the sweetness of the berries)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup blueberry preserves


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with buttered parchment, leaving an 1-inch overhang on each side (this will make for easy removal of the bars once they are baked).

Prepare the crust and crumb topping: In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse the sugar, lemon zest, all-purpose flour, baking powder and kosher salt until just blended. Add the cubes of cold butter followed by the beaten egg yolk and pulse the mixture until large crumbs appear or when the mixture can come together with your fingertips.

Divide the crumb mixture, reserving half for the top layer. Press one half of the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the parchment lined baking pan. Place the pan in the freezer until ready to use. Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl toss the whole blueberries along with the sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch; set aside. Remove the pan from the freezer and spread the blueberry preserves evenly over the crumb crust. 

Next, spread the blueberry mixture over the preserves, followed by the reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle an even layer of the reserved crumb mixture over the blueberry layer. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. After 15 minutes, rotate the pan  (front to back) for even baking. Continue baking until the top crumb layer is golden brown and the blueberry mixture is slightly bubbling. 

Remove the pan from the oven. Allow the bars to cool for 15 minutes or until firm enough to remove from pan. Remove the sheet of bars from the pan by grasping the overhang of parchment paper. Transfer to a baking rack to cool completely. Finish the bars by sifting confectioner's sugar over the top of the bars. Cut into squares.

1 comment:

  1. So I made this again and remembered to add the egg this time! I divided the dough into 8 by 8 pans and both are cooling as I write. Oh but I forgot the zest, and my husband bought com stock blueberries (some times he doesn't understand)