One of my favorite things to do for holidays is plan the menu. I brainstorm with my mom and my sister and we come up with menus for the whole weekend. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday because it's ALL ABOUT THE FOOD. And even though it's still months away, I've already started planning the menu for this year. Freshly baked bread? I think so.
For dessert for our July 4th picnic, I wanted something easy to make, easy to eat, summery, and delicious. These hit all four points beautifully. They didn't require any cutlery to eat, and I made them the night before to be sure they would be nice and sturdy the next evening.
The berry flavor was intense, with just a hint of lemon in the background. The crust and crumble on top was sweet, delicate, and didn't detract from the beautiful ripe berries.
The great thing about these bars is that they're really versatile. We went with mixed berries this weekend because they all looked so good and BONUS: tied in all the colors of the flag! We're sooo patriotic.
But you could just as easily use all of one type of berry, or a different ratio of two or three berry types, or even berries and stone fruit, cut into small pieces. Whatever calls to you from the produce section or farmer's market, use it!
Mixed Berry Crumb Bars
Yield: About 20 squares
For the crust and topping:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Zest of 1 lemon
16 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
For the berries:
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blackberries
2 cups fresh blueberries
4 tsp. cornstarch
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13'' pan. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, and flour, pulsing a few times to combine. Mix in the salt and lemon zest. Add the butter and egg and pulse in 5 second intervals until the largest chunks of butter are pea-sized. The mixture should be crumbly without too much loose flour, but it should hold together when you squeeze it in your hand.
FYI: It is impossible to take a flattering picture of your own hand
3. Spread about half of the dough mixture in an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan and press down firmly to form the bottom crust.
4. In a medium bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup of sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Gently mix in the berries with a rubber spatula until combined.
5. Sprinkle the berry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the berries.
6. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is slightly golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.
Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.