17 September 2014

A Recipe from the Blue Ribbon Winner

Blue Ribbon Baker, Blackberry Crumb Bar

After hearing her mom had been declared a Blue Ribbon Baker,  Bunny sweetly asked me to make some Blackberry Crumb Bars for her.  She had found a recipe online and sent me a text saying "Can you make these at some point please".   Notice the "please". That's about as sweet as we get around here.

Now baking in my tiny kitchen in the woods can be a challenge. Appliances are limited. Gadgets are even more limited. Heck, space is limited.  The handy dandy hand mixer we have is at least 30 years old. There's a food processor from the consignment store. It has two speeds: on and off.
I also learned to bake at sea level. This kitchen is almost 8000 feet in the air. Concessions need to be made and I am doing my best to learn how to make them. Some things come out, some things don't.

I've written a couple of posts on baking and cooking in our version of a Green Acres kitchen. If you want to read about my little kitchen, click here.  If you want to read about high altitude baking, click here.

The cozy kitchen in the woods.
Just don't plug in a 3 and a 5 at the same time.
(And if you have never watched Green Acres- go find it online.)

But the Crumb Bars got made.  And devoured. They were yummy but we felt they could be improved upon. So more were made. I think we have it right this time.

See for yourself:

Blackberry Crumb Bars

The cast of characters-minus the oatmeal and graham crackers
I forgot to take a picture the second time I made them. 

For the filling:
  • 4 cups blackberries (Frozen is ok) 
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of ½ lemon (No micro plane here in the cabin kitchen, so I used one of those choppers that you slam down with the palm of your hand. Worked ok. Necessity is the mother of invention.)
  • pinch of salt
And for the pastry:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup oatmeal  (I chopped it up just to make it a little finer but you don't have to.)
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced into cubes (Or just melt it. I tried both ways and both ways worked.)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, well-beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 or 6 graham crackers-crushed
Place rack in center of the oven then preheat to 350 degrees. Coat a 13" x 9" cake pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper then set aside. (I lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper/sprayed the edges with Pam.)

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, toss blackberries with sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest until well combined then set aside.  (Frozen blackberries were used- didn't even bother to defrost them.)

Doesn't this look yummy? 

In a separate large mixing bowl, sift together flour, oatmeal, baking powder and salt. Cut the cold butter into flour mixture using a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, then add ¾ cup granulated sugar and stir until combined. (Since there is no pastry cutter here at Green Acres,the first time I made it I used the ancient hand mixer on low. It worked. The second time I just melted the butter and stirred it all together. That worked too.)

In a small bowl, whisk together the beaten egg and vanilla then add to dry ingredients. Mix until well combined—the mixture will be dry and shaggy-looking. (Shaggy-looking? It was dry. Don't know about Shaggy. And if you decide to melt the butter- it won't look dry. But it will still work.)

 This is with the butter melted. 
It was a lot easier to do than "cutting in cold butter".
An option if you also happen to be lazy. Like me.

Transfer 2/3rds of the pastry mixture to the bottom of the prepared pan then press into an even layer. 
Add an even layer of the crushed graham crackers. (Use about 2/3rds of the graham crackers here, save  to add to the topping.) 

I find a wine bottle and a plastic baggie the perfect set up 
for crushing crackers. Put the graham crackers in the bag, roll the bottle over.
Feel free to sample the wine after you are done crushing.

Pour blackberry filling—including juices—over the crust then spread into an even layer.

Mix remaining graham cracker crumbs with remaining pastry mixture and crumble evenly over the top of blackberries. 

Ready for the oven.

Bake 40–45 minutes until the top becomes a light golden brown. Remove from oven then allow to cool until crust becomes firm. Serve slightly warm, or at room temperature.

Lightly browned all over at about 46 minutes. 

No adjustments were made for the high altitude and it didn't seem to matter. 
Bunny declared these "Yummy" and requested that they be made with great regularity.

I'm going to a Wine Festival in Lake City this weekend. These can come along with me.  
Of course, I will leave some for Bunny. 

 (The original recipe was courtesy of the website CherylStyle.com BUT alterations and additions were made.)
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