Wednesday, June 3, 2015

a concoction

I really love a dessert that is a bar. Maybe it's because I was raised in a large family so I'm used to a multitude of meals coming from a large casserole dish. I also like the durability of a bar, which then creates portability. Typically, bars are cut in large squares at bakeries, but any home cook knows they can bring them to a pot-luck and quickly cut them smaller if the crowd grows larger.
Since it's rhubarb season (and it's a short one like pomegranates. Sigh.) it's time for a bar dessert with their best friend, the strawberry. Finding the perfect bar proved tricky. I liked the idea of a traditional pie, without all the oozey messiness that necessitated a plate and fork. A slab pie you say? No, that's more pie crust than I prefer. A crumble? Not bad, but still not what I wanted.
After reviewing a few different recipes, it was time to take action and create a dessert that was a hybrid of a pie, slab pie and crumble. Then these babies came out of the oven and I knew I got it right.
The crust is sturdy enough to be held in one hand, without the fruit and crumble spilling over. The filling isn't dry because the fruit lends off a wonderful sweet juiciness that stays put with a bit of cornstarch. And don't think I forgot about that crumble topping. No way. That buttery oat mixture is the perfect crunch to these tart, dense bars.

Strawberry Rhubarb crumb pie bars
Inspiration and recipe adaption came from Joy the Baker, Martha Stewart and Smitten Kitchen
Makes 15 large bars

Recipe Notes-
- Don’t be fooled by this pie crust; it couldn’t be easier. The ingredients are blitzed in a food processor and then dumped in the pan to be pressed with your fingers. No rolling pin involved!
- Of course I added vanilla to the crust and topping because it compliments the fruit perfectly. 
- These can be served warm with ice cream, at room temperature, or cold; there's no wrong way. 

For the pie crust:
2 ½ Cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
¾ tsp. salt
½ Cup, or 1 stick, of cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ Cup cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the strawberry rhubarb filling:
3 Cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
3 Cups fresh rhubarb, sliced in ½” pieces
½ Cup granulated sugar
1/3 Cup lightly packed brown sugar
¼ Cup cornstarch
large pinch of salt
The juice of half a fresh lemon

For the crumb topping:
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ Cup light brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 Cup rolled oats
¾ Cup all-purpose flour

1. Butter a 9x13-inch pan and set aside.
2. To make the pie crust, in a food processor (or if using by hand, use a pastry cutter or 2 knives) add the flour, sugar salt and cold butter. Pulse until the butter is the size of a pea. Add the vanilla and water in batches and pulse just until the dough comes together in a ball.
3. Press the dough into the greased pan (I dipped my fingers in a little flour to prevent sticking) into an even layer, creating a ¼-inch edge. Refrigerate the dough, in the pan, for at least a half hour.
4. To make the strawberry rhubarb filling, in a large bowl add the strawberries, rhubarb, both sugars, cornstarch, salt and lemon juice. Mix until cornstarch is absorbed. Set aside.
5. Preheat oven to 400° F and make the crumble topping while the dough is chilling and the oven warms up. In a microwaveable medium-sized mixing bowl, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the vanilla, brown sugar, salt, oats and flour. Mix until clumps form.
6. Pull the chilled pie crust pan out of the fridge and pour the strawberry rhubarb mixture in an even layer. With your hands, crumble the topping evenly over the fruit mixture. Bake in the 400° F for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350° F and bake for 30 minutes more, or until the crumble is golden and the fruit is soft. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely before cutting and serving. Place any leftover bars in the refrigerator, where they’ll keep for 3-4 days.


  1. I love strawberry and rhubarb together- the perfect taste of sweet and sour together. This looks wonderful.

    1. I agree Amy! The sweetness from the strawberries and sugar, the sour from the lemon and rhubarb all make for an excellent flavor combination.