I was wanting a bar cookie with fresh fruit in it, since, after all, this is summer. I kind of knew that I wanted a crumbly top on the fruit, but I didn’t want to go through that mess of one recipe for the bottom crust and another for the filling and yet another for the top. I settled on a recipe for date bars from my old Betty Crocker cookbook, but made a few changes to use fresh blueberries, quite a difference from the thick date paste in the original recipe. I personally love oatmeal date bars, but they seem more like a fall treat to me.
The date bar uses one crumb or streusel mixture for both the top and bottom, pressing it into the dish for the bottom crust, but just sprinkling the rest of the mixture on top of the filling. I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t do it with blueberries, but I wouldn’t be cooking them first, as you do with the dates. The blueberry version turned out just what I wanted, a sandy brown sugar top and bottom with the extra chew of oatmeal, and a juicy blueberry filling. I think they need to be refrigerated both for handling and because a chilled filling is nice in the summer. They can be eaten out of hand or with a fork.
Aside from using a blueberry filling, the only change I made to the crust was to use all butter, instead of a combination of butter and vegetable shortening.
Blueberry Oatmeal Bars
Adapted from the “Date Bars” recipe in the Betty Crocker New Picture Cook Book (1961), p. 197.
Preheat oven to 400°; reduce to 375° after 10 minutes baking.
Butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and brown sugar until blended.
- Add the dry ingredients, except oats, mixing until combined.
- Stir in oats. This will be a crumbly and what I would call a sandy mixture. Just make sure that the butter is evenly distributed.
2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried, stems removed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 generous tablespoon cornstarch
- Combine sugar and cornstarch.
- Stir in blueberries to coat.
Put it all together:
- Press half the streusel into the bottom of the buttered dish.
- Top with the sugared blueberries.
- Sprinkle the rest of the streusel over the blueberries.
- Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° and continue baking for about 20 more minutes. The streusel should be browned and you should see some of the filling bubbling around the edges. I was concerned about using the baking recommendation of 400° for a full 30 minutes. In the original date bar recipe, the filling is cooked to a thick paste first and then cooled. In this recipe, you are cooking the filling in the bars. I was concerned that the streusel could brown too much before the filling was cooked. It’s possible that you could use the lower temperature for the entire time or for a longer time.
Cool on rack, then in refrigerator for about 10 minutes, before cutting.
What other fruits would you try in these bars? I think cherries would be good, if you could Tom Sawyer someone into doing the pitting.