Strawberry Crumb Bars

I made a variation of this recipe when I took culinary in Gr. 10 — yes, my school was fancy enough it seemed to have an entire culinary program with top grade appliances, KitchenAids galore, and a walk-in freezer and fridge like you wouldn’t believe.

Looking back now, 2011 was a pivotal point in my life.

This same year was when my family and I went to New York City, for my first time, and it was there that we went on a walking food-tour. Those who knew me back when I first started this blog are very aware that I have credited that trip many times for the spark that ignited my love for writing about food. In the same year, I was being taught the culinary arts. My very serious teacher didn’t just tell us how to work safely within a kitchen to that magnitude,, but we learned about knife cuts, different cuisines and techniques, watched his instructional tutorials in person, and lastly, we practiced a whole lot of measurement perfecting. We baked a LOT in that class.

We were given a recipe for Raspberry Coconut Squares — buttery shortbread crusts layered with fresh jammy fruit and a crunchy crumble of shredded coconut. It was incredible to see something like a fresh berry turn into a delectable dessert with such little technique involved.
So, as I soon as I was able to grab my hands on some fresh strawberries, I knew exactly what I wanted to bake.

INGREDIENTS

Crust
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed in advance
Jammy Top
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, diced
    (you could use blueberries, raspberries, peaches, blackberries, literally any stonefruit or berry would be great for this recipe!)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Prepare a 8×8 baking dish by lining it with aluminum foil or parchment paper allowing the edges to hang over the pan for easy removal. Spray the lining with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add the ½ cup sugar, flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until combined. Then, add the egg and vanilla. Mix well again.

The next step is similar to the steps when making the dough from my Rogaliki recipe. Using your fingers, pinch the cold butter into the flour. You are looking for the texture of tiny, partially broken bits of butter to still be visible in the flour.

[TIP] I like to buy the sticks of butter when I bake as it’s easy for measuring and is much easier to work with than a cold butter brick.

Next, take half of the flour mixture and pack it down in the bottom of your pan, pressing firmly down with your palm.
Reserve the remaining crumbs for the topping.

In another small bowl, combine your diced strawberries, 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch. Mix until the strawberries are coated well and then spread the strawberry mix over the bottom layer. Sprinkle the rest of your flour mixture evenly over the top of your strawberries to create that crumbly topping we all know and love.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the crumbs are a golden brown. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting into squares.

The greatest compliment I’ve gotten from these are that they remind someone of a true bakery square — my heart SOARED.

Peace and good eats, guys.
-A❁

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