Taking a quick break from all the goings-on — in the last week: salsa making, dinner guests, my first cheese contamination and subsequent freak-out bleaching spree, bakery work, corn processing, a (borrowed) bull(!!!) — to tell you about jam bars. The recipe comes from Kate and everyone on social media is always going on and on about them and then I made them and I’m like, OK, I get it now.
They aren’t fancy or expensive or all that unique — they don’t even have any spices! — but it’s for precisely that reason that they’re so good: just (mostly) oats and butter mushed into pan, spread with any sort of fruit filling, and then more of the oat-butter mixture sprinkled on top. It’s their simplicity and utilitarian nature that make them so brilliant.
Also, they’re freakin’ delicious. I ate about a sixth of a pan for my lunch yesterday, and then my younger son came home starving (he’d accidentally packed himself a bag of frozen grated Parmesan cheese instead of leftover pizza for his lunch) and ate nearly a quarter of it, half of which he scooped into a bowl and then topped with milk poured. Then we had it for dessert, and I packed it into lunches for today, and then I ate a piece for my breakfast this morning. There are three small pieces left, and I’m saving them for this afternoon when my mom comes over for coffee and a chat. I hope she knows how lucky she is.
The fruit filling is supposed to be any sort of fruit sauce (think pie filling) or jam, and some people say they even use applesauce. I think an actual jam would be too sweet…but I could be wrong. These, I made these with red raspberries that I cooked down with water and sugar.
I’ve adapted the recipe somewhat — halving it, adding salt, decreasing the sugar, substituting some whole wheat in place of the white flour. It’s infinitely adaptable, and that’s exactly the point. I’m considering doing with it like I do with my pie pastry and crumb toppings: make a quadruple batch and freezing it in the correct proportions so I can just whip up these bars whenever the mood strikes.
Jammy Oat Bars
Adapted from Kate of Venison for Dinner
These are actually similar to my berry crostata recipe, but this one has more butter and less…other stuff. For the recipe photographed here, I used 1½ cups flour, ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour, an additional ½ cup quick oats (because the mixture looked too wet), and all homemade butter (which tends to yield a softer final product).
About pan size: in a 9×13 pan, these bars are on the thin side. This same recipe can be made in a 10-inch springform pan, though it will be thicker (and still good). While too thin is better than too thick, I kinda think a triple batch divided between two 9×13 pans might be the perfect thickness.
2 cups flour (substitute with whole wheat, rye, oat flour, GF flour, etc, if you want)
1 cup rolled oats (plus another half cup quick oats, optional)
1 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
spices, nuts, zests, etc, absolutely optional
1 cup butter, melted
2-3 cups jam, fruit sauce, pie filling, etc.
Stir together the flour, oats, sugar, soda, and salt. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. (If it feels too wet, feel free to add some more oats.)
Press ⅔ of the mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking pan. Spread the fruit sauce over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.
Red Raspberry Filling
Simmer 3 cups red raspberries with ½ cup water and ½ cup sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water. Once the fruit boils, stirl in the cornstarch slurry. Let it bubble briefly before removing from the heat and cooling. (This sauce is also excellent stirred into yogurt.)