Despite the fact that I hauled my winter coat out of the closet this morning for my early dog walk, picnic season is officially upon us, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
There’s some sort of magical law that makes anything eaten outdoors automatically taste better, and I try to take full advantage of dining al fresco whenever the opportunity presents itself. Not only are the flavours of the meal or snack somehow enhanced when eaten outside, but there’s also the bonus of not having to clean up the dining room table that’s usually littered with tiny crumbs and milk spills. It’s a total win-win.
These blackberry crumb bars are ideal for any kind of outdoor eating, but they taste pretty good when served indoors, too. Last week I put a few trays together for a teacher appreciation lunch, and they were a hit. I think hand-held snacks are ideal for warm-weather eating; they’re casual, easy to tote around, and require nothing more than your fingers for easy consumption. Oh, and not only are these incredibly tasty, and not too sweet, they’re also versatile, and can be customized with whatever berry is in season. They also travel well, and make just enough to feed a large group without too many leftovers.
I froze a few extra pieces that I had on hand to see how they would hold up, and I actually enjoyed them a little more after they were chilled. In the future, I will likely pop these into the freezer as soon as I cut them, then I’ll platter them straight up from there. By the time we eat, they’ll be cool yet soft, and perfectly pleasant for a hot spring day.
Blackberry Crumb Bars
For the crumb topping:
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
- 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
For the bars:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups blackberries
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8” square baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.
2. Make the crumb topping: In a medium bowl combine the butter and brown sugar. Add the whole-wheat flour and lime zest, and mix with a fork until moist and crumbly. Place in the freezer until ready to use.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the ½ cup butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
4. Spread the batter evenly over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the blackberries over top, and cover with the chilled topping, distributing it evenly over the berries. Bake until golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Cool completely in pan, and lift out using the paper overhang. Cut into 16 squares and serve.