Strawberry Pie Bars

I had my eye on this recipe way before I even went strawberry picking…and these pie bars met every expectation. 🙂 This recipe is from Joy the Baker. Wonderful!

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Strawberry Filling:

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced into bite-size chunks (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons minute tapioca
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for topping
  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line an 8×8-inch square pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over two edges of the pan about two inches. This will make the pie bars easier to remove after it’s baked. Lightly spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. For the crust, place the butter, sugars, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  4. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, salt, and cinnamon and mix on low-speed until just combined.
  5. Scatter two-thirds of the dough into clumps in the prepared pan, flour your fingers and press the dough across the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the pan about 1/2-inch. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  6. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and set aside to cool while you prepare the topping and filling.
  7. In a small bowl combine the remaining crust and pecans. Stir until combined and set aside.
  8. In a medium bowl toss together the sliced strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, and spices. Allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes until some juices develop in the bottom of the bowl.
  9. After the juices have developed, add the melted butter and the instant tapioca. Stir to combine. The tapioca will look coarse within the mixture but it will dissolve in the oven.
  10. Spread the strawberries evenly over the crust.
  11. Pinch medium pieces of remaining dough with your fingers and drop them evenly over the top of the strawberry mixture (they won’t cover the top completely but do your best to cover).
  12. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the topping is brown and the strawberry mixture is bubbling. (If there are still tapioca bits, take the pan out of the oven and gently stir those berries in so the tapioca gets moistened.)
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  14. Chill in the refrigerator to easily remove the bars from the pan. Once cooled, remove from the pan and dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

Note: The bars can be stored, wrapped individually or covered in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Skillet Graham Cake with Peaches & Blueberries

I have been looking for an excuse to make this skillet cake since last summer. Graham crackers… peaches and blueberries… streusel topping… and baked in a cast iron skillet? Irresistible. I finally had to make it after having too many ripe peaches on the counter. 😉 What an excuse!

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chicago chef Stephanie Izard. (I have loved her since she won Top Chef.) The cake is baked on the grill in the original recipe. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

For the Streusel:

Make the Streusel:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat all of the ingredients together at medium speed until crumbs form.
  2. Press together to form a large mass.
  3. Transfer to 
a bowl and break into clumps.
  4. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
Prepare the Fruit:
  1. Preheat an oven to  300° F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the peaches with the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.
  3. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat.
  4. Scrape the fruit and any juices into the skillet.
Make the Cake:
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk both flours with the graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with both sugars and the honey at medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the dry ingredients until just smooth.
  5. Spread the batter in the skillet in an even layer.
  6. Scatter the streusel evenly on top.
  7. Place the skillet on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until 
a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. (The cake is cooked off of the heat in a grill for the same amount of time in the original recipe.)
  8. Let the cake cool for 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.

I’m bringing my special skillet cake to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #184, co-hosted by Jhuls @The Not so Creative Cook and Petra @ Food Eat Love. Enjoy!

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Lattice-Top Strawberry Pie

One of our family traditions is to go strawberry picking in June. This year, we were able to pick them at the organic farm that produces our CSA share. The berries were absolutely perfect. The farm also grows many different varieties of berries, so it was fun to pick from different areas of the patch. We kept buying more containers to fill! We went home with eight quarts. 🙂

First, I made the “mandatory” Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam and Strawberry Shortcake Cookies. I also make strawberry pancakes and strawberry muffins. Of course, I had to try something new to make with my precious berries. This lattice-top pie was it. Lucky for us, I also had enough berries to make Strawberry Gelato as well. All delicious!

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times. I adapted the recipe by using an all-butter crust from Martha Stewart. I also used an additional cup of berries in the filling, used a 6-piece lattice crust, and sprinkled the top crust with turbinado sugar prior to baking. I also covered the edge of the pie throughout the baking time to prevent over-browning.

Fresh and fabulous. 🙂

Yield: one 9-inch pie, serves 8 to 10

For the Pate Brisee:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • coarse salt
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water

To Prepare the Crust:

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor until combined.
  2. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds.
  3. Drizzle 1/3 cup ice water (5 tablespoons) evenly over mixture. Pulse until mixture holds together when pressed between 2 fingers (dough should not be wet or sticky). If dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse.
  4. Shape dough into 2 disks, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (I made the crusts a day in advance.)

For the Filling:

  • 2 ½ pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and halved to make 6 to 7 cups
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, strained lemon juice
  • 4 T cornstarch
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

To Finish:

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  • vanilla ice cream, optional, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Make the Filling: In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Between layers of plastic wrap or on a lightly floured surface, roll out one dough round to fit a 9-inch pie plate.
  4. Fit the dough in the pie plate and spoon in the filling. Scatter the butter evenly over the top.
  5. Roll out the remaining dough, cut it into 1-inch strips (I cut mine into 6 pieces with a fluted pastry wheel) and weave a lattice top over the filling. Trim and crimp the edges.
  6. Brush the egg over the crust and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  7. Cover the edge of the crust to prevent over-browning.
  8. Place on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Continue baking until the crust is nicely browned and the filling bubbles thickly, 40-50 minutes.
  10. Place on a rack to cool completely, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day. Cut into wedges and serve, with or without vanilla ice cream, as desired.

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Sour Cream & Blueberry Coffee Cake

I love an excuse to make a special breakfast. This time, it was a cold and rainy Saturday morning at home with my daughter. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from San Francisco’s Hobee’s Restaurant via Mario Batali’s Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA. I loved that Batali noted that this coffee cake is “suspiciously under the heading ‘Light Bites'” on their menu. 🙂 I suppose it doesn’t incorporate that much butter… 😉

I adapted the recipe by incorporating whole wheat pastry flour, increasing the baking time, and modifying the topping. Instead of using a 9×9-inch baking pan, I used an 8×8-inch equivalent baking pan (it has a berry pattern on it!), which was a little bit too small… Still yummy, thank goodness.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

For the Brown Sugar Topping:

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Spray a 9×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Make the Cake: Rinse the berries in cold water and then toss them in 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour.
  4. Place a sieve over a mixing bowl, and pour the berries into the sieve. Shake the excess flour off into the bowl; set berries aside.
  5. Add the remaining 1 cup all-purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour to the bowl, along with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to incorporate.
  6. In a separate bowl or stand mixer, beat together the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and granulated sugar until well combined.
  7. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until a smooth batter forms.
  8. Pour half the butter in the pan and scatter most of the berries over.
  9. Pour in the rest of the batter and drop the rest of the berries on top.
  10. Make the Brown Sugar Topping: In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Combine throughly using a pastry blender.
  11. Spread topping over the top of the batter.
  12. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is uniformly brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  13. Let cool before serving.

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Blueberry Muffin Tops with Streusel Topping

Yes, it’s true… I’m still talking about Mother’s Day. 🙂

One of my special Mother’s Day gifts was a “Muffin-Top” pan. It’s genius. (My daughter only eats the top of her muffins, so this really was a perfect gift!) Needless to say, I already have a couple of muffin-top recipes to share. We enjoyed this version for our Memorial Day breakfast. They were fabulously loaded with fresh blueberries.

This recipe was adapted from Gourmet via Epicurious.com. I lowered the oven temperature, increased the vanilla, and reduced the flour in the topping. Next time I plan to incorporate some whole wheat flour. These muffins could also be made in a standard muffin tin, of course!

An absolute highlight in the original recipe was the informative explanation about the origin of the “Muffin-Top” baking pan. It was described as a TV triumph from a 1990’s Seinfeld episode. Here’s the recap:

“After Elaine exclaims that she only likes the tops of muffins (“The Muffin Tops” first aired on May 8, 1997), her former boss thinks Elaine has hit on a clever marketing idea. But when you only sell the tops, what do you do with the hundreds of muffin ‘stumps’ (bottoms) that are left? Elaine and her gang take to the streets with garbage bags of stumps, trying to pawn them off on anyone and everyone. There are no takers; even the homeless turn them down with disdain. It didn’t take long after the airing of the episode for muffin-top pans to appear on store shelves.”

LOVE it. 🙂

Yield: 12 muffin tops

For the Batter:

  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1 large yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (can use some white whole wheat flour, if desired)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (12 oz)

For the Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Make the Batter:

  1. Put oven rack in the center or upper third of oven and preheat to 350°F, preferably on convection. Generously butter muffin pans. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  2. Melt butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, then remove from heat. Whisk in milk, then whisk in whole egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined well.
  3. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then add milk mixture and stir until just combined.
  4. Fold in blueberries gently but thoroughly.
  5. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups, spreading evenly. (I used a large cookie scoop.)

Make the Topping and Bake the Muffins:

  1. Rub together all topping ingredients in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender until crumbly, then sprinkle evenly over batter in cups, about 1 tablespoon per muffin.
  2. Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick or skewer inserted diagonally into center of a muffin comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
  3. Cool in pans on a rack 15 minutes, then run a knife around edge of each muffin top and carefully remove from cups. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Blueberry & Corn Crisp

I can’t try enough crisp recipes using summer berries. This dessert was described as a “unique and textured crisp with the flavors of corn muffins and blueberry jam smashed together.” I loved the textural contrast of the fresh corn kernels in the topping with the soft blueberry filling. Yummy!

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Nicole Rucker. I used medium-fine cornmeal instead of coarse. We ate it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, of course. 🙂

Yield: Serves 8

For the Filling:

  • 5 cups fresh (or frozen, thawed) blueberries
  • â…“ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse  salt

For the Topping and Assembly:

  • â…” cup all-purpose flour
  • â…” cup coarse-grind cornmeal or polenta (I used medium-fine cornmeal)
  • â…“ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 1 large ear)

To Make the Filling:

  1. Toss blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch, and salt in a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

To Make the Topping and Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
  2. Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl to combine.
  3. Using a pastry blender or your hands, work butter into dry ingredients until no dry spots remain and mixture holds together when squeezed.
  4. Add corn and toss to evenly distribute.
  5. Press topping between your fingers and break into large pieces over filling.
  6. Place baking dish on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake crisp until topping is golden brown and juices are thick and bubbling, 50–60 minutes.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 30 minutes before serving.

Note: Crisp can be made 1 day ahead. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

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Whole Wheat Gooseberry & Almond Squares

Gooseberries were completely new to me this summer. When I received my second batch of gooseberries in my CSA share, I was stumped. I thought I had peaked with my Gooseberry & Blueberry Galette. 😉 I searched far and wide for a special way to use them. This crumbly, shortbread-like bar was a perfect choice! We ate them for dessert with ice cream, and then ate leftovers for breakfast. They were great with a cup of coffee. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Good Food Magazine, via BBC’s Good Food.com. I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of white self-rising, light brown sugar instead of muscovado, and granulated sugar instead of caster. Earthy and nice.

  • 250 g (2 sticks, 1 cup) chilled unsalted butter, chopped
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 125 g ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 125 g light brown sugar
  • 350 g fresh gooseberries
  • 85 g granulated sugar, plus 1-2 T extra for sprinkling
  • 50 g slivered almonds
  1. Heat oven to 325 F (convection) / 170 C fan. Line a 9 x 13-inch (27 x 18-cm) baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour mixture, ground almonds, and light brown sugar to make crumbs, then firmly press two-thirds into the base and sides of the prepared pan.
  4. Toss the gooseberries with the granulated sugar, then scatter over the top.
  5. Mix the flaked almonds into the remaining crumbs, then scatter over the gooseberries.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or up to 1 hour, until golden and the fruit is bubbling a little around the edges.
  7. Sprinkle with the remaining granulated sugar, then cool in the pan.
  8. Cut into squares and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea or serve as a dessert with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

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