This recipe is one that I often teach in cooking classes because you can make it year-round (just use frozen blueberries when you can’t find them fresh!) and because the crumbly topping — once you’ve done it once — is something you can begin using to top just about anything. I use it on apple crisps and cobblers, any fruit bar I make these days, and even bake it up on its own to scatter atop vanilla ice cream. I love this topping because it’s slightly nutty, very subtlety-spiced, and not at all too sweet — plus, it's so simple to throw together.
As for making these bars exactly as you’d like them, you can also swap in different fruits (I made these with frozen huckleberries and raspberries a few weeks ago), and you can certainly play around with different nuts for the crumble topping (pecans are wonderful instead of almonds). I like to eat these with a big cup of coffee in the morning, and they graduate to afternoon snack territory nicely as well.
Note: I would like to add that if you’re working off of the Blueberry Bar recipe in the book instead of the one here, there is an omission in the instructions when it comes to adding the ice water. Consult the recipe here if confusion arises, but essentially you want to add the ice water to the dough at the very end and do so slowly until it just begins to gather and clump together.
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Blueberry Breakfast Bars
These are the ultimate all-purpose breakfast bars. They blend right in with a weekend brunch spread but are also the perfect help-get-me-through-morning-traffic snack. They boast a toasty flavor from the almonds and sesame seeds and a warm fragrance from the marriage of brown sugar and oats. While I love using fresh berries in the summer, in the dead of winter I rely on frozen blueberries I’ve stored from previous farmers’ market hauls. makes 12 to 16 bars, depending on size
Morning Notes: If you can’t find rye flakes, feel free to use more rolled oats instead.
3 cups (720 ml) fresh blueberries or 1 (12-ounce / 350 g) package frozen blueberries, unthawed
1/4 cup (45 grams) natural cane sugar
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup (50 grams) rolled oats
1 cup (100 grams) rye flakes
3/4 cup (60 grams) sliced raw almonds
1/4 cup (30 grams) raw sesame seeds
1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (75 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg, beaten
8 tablespoons (115 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes, plus more for greasing the pan
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square pan.
To prepare the filling: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the berries, sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer. Continue stirring until berries just begin to break down and the sauce thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
To prepare the crust: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse together the rolled oats, rye flakes, almonds, and sesame seeds just until they form a chunky, mealy texture, about 30 seconds. Add the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder and pulse a time or two to combine. Add the egg and butter. Add ice water slowly and pulse until mixture just begins to clump together.
To assemble and bake the bars: Press approximately half of the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Pour the berry filling onto the crust and spread evenly. Scatter the remaining crust mixture across the top as you would for a fruit crisp or crumble—messy and haphazard, but evenly dispersed. Don’t worry about pressing down; it will bake into the bars beautifully.
Bake until the top crumble is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan. Slice into bars. If wrapped and kept at room temperature, the bars will keep for 3 days.
Make It Your Own
Try these with your favorite seasonal berries. Blackberries or huckleberries would be lovely, as would cherries.
Reprinted with permission from Whole-Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons by Megan Gordon (Ten Speed Press, © 2013). Photo Credit: Clare Barboza.