Blueberry Crumble Bars

Corn.  Cattle.  Pella Windows.  Dutch letters.  Red covered bridges of Madison County (somewhere my initials are carved into one).  Elk Horn’s Danish windmill.  Butter sculptures at the the state fair.  Moths as big as birds.  Fishing in my aunt and uncle’s backyard.  The Hawkeyes.  The best writers’ workshop in America.  Glenn Miller, John Wayne, Johnny Carson, Donna Reed.  Electrical storms in summer.  Fireflies.  Farm life. These are a few of the things that come to mind when I think of Iowa.

Well, that and bars.  By which I mean bar shaped baked goods–the treats that make the Midwest go round.  Iowans love them.  I love them.  And as a woman with strong family roots there, I felt it my duty to finally post about them.  Most tend to be of the chocolate variety, but mine are blueberry.

This morning at the greengrocer’s my four year old chided me.  “Blueberries aren’t in season, mommy.”  I trained her too well.  “That’s right, darling.  In England they’re not, but lucky for us they are in . . . (I picked up a carton and read the label) Spain.”  “Morocco too.”  I needed a few more cartons and the Spanish ones ran out.

Below is my blueberry bar recipe.  It’s a crumbly one with notes of almond and fresh lemon.  As the sky was so blue today and the sun so warm, it felt like the most appropriate bar recipe to bake.  I love it as much as my Grandpa Jim loved the Hawkeyes.  My hope is you do too.

where corn is king

ISF-butter-moneybags

Butter sculpture

Me at my Grandmother's

Me at my Grandmother’s

moth

Great-Grandma Evelyn and Great-Grandpa Herman Warren

Great-Grandma Evelyn and Great-Grandpa Herman Warren

The Sorensens

The Sorensens

My grandfather is the boy in the sailor suit.

My grandfather is the boy in the sailor suit.

My aunt and uncle's backyard

My aunt and uncle’s backyard

mama in iowa

at coco's downtown harlan

james warren

Grandpa Jim

 

Ingredients:

For crumble:

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 cup flour

3/4 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

125 grams unsalted butter

1 egg

 

For filling:

4 cups blueberries

1/2 cup caster sugar

juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon cornflour

 

Method:

Preheat oven to Gas 4/ 350F/ 180C.

Lightly butter a small ceramic dish and set aside.  The measurements of mine were 8×12 inches.  If you like lots of crumble, use a smaller dish.  8″ x 8″ would be perfect.

Mix all the ingredients for the crumble, except for the egg, in a large bowl with your fingertips.  Combine until it resembles a fine meal.  Then incorporate the egg.

Place 2/3 of the crumble in the bottom of your dish.  I use my knuckles to push it into place.

Then in another bowl mix the lemon juice, zest, sugar, and cornflour.  Gently stir in the blueberries and coat.

Pour the berry mixture on top of the crumble layer.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the crumble on top.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow the bake to cool completely before cutting into it.  This will give you a better set bar than just a lot of crumble.

baked crumble

blueberry crumble bar

Greedy Summer Squirrel Pie

Photo on 2013-06-19 at 13.15 #3

I’m greedy.  Greedy like a fat fluffy-tailed squirrel.  Especially when it comes to pie.  One of the things I love most about summer is the abundance of berries.  I take to the bushes like my spirit animal and take home bags of these sweet fruit.  Some of them I turn into preserves.  Some I freeze and save for fall crumbles.  Some I turn straight into pie.

Here is my favorite blueberry pie recipe of the moment.  Perfect for staining summer whites and best served orchestrated to the plnokety plonk of Thelonious’ Blue Monk in Newport, circa 1958. What I love most about it is the frangipane at the bottom.  I hope you do too.

Ingredients:

half the pâte brisée recipe

600 grams (2 1/2 cups) fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained

100 (0.4 cups) grams ground almonds

100 grams (0.4 cups) sugar

2 egg whites

powdered sugar (icing sugar)

Method:

Put a baking tray in your oven and preheat to 400ºF/200ºC/gas6.

Roll your pâte brisée to fit a fluted tart dish approximately 10 inches in diameter.  Trim the edges and save the pastry for decoration.

In a bowl, blend the almonds, sugar, and egg whites with a mixer.

Spoon the mixture into the base of the tin.

Now carefully tip the blueberries on top of the almond mixture and spread as evenly as possible.

Using your extra pastry, roll out a shape with your favorite cookie cutter.  Place it in the center of your pie.

Spoon some powdered sugar into a sieve and sprinkle evenly over your pie.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the edges of your pie are golden brown and your blueberries are starting to sink.  Do not let them bake until they are mush.

Cool completely and serve with crème fraîche, Greek yogurt, or your favorite vanilla ice cream.