Friday, October 29, 2010

Raspberry Crumb Bars & Citrus Bars

Raspberry Crumb Bars & Citrus Bars

These raspberry crumb bars got inhaled here at home and will be making a repeat appearance, but those citrus bars?  Never again!  It's not that they weren't good, because what lemon bar isn't good?  Especially one with the addition of lime?  But where the raspberry crumb bars were relatively simple and fun, the citrus bars demanded more elbow grease and then ran into technical issues.

Raspberry Crumb Bars

The raspberry crumb bars involved making an almond-y dough that would serve as both the base and topping.  The base gets baked briefly in a cookie sheet lined with parchment, then cooled and spread with jam.  Then the remaining dough is scattered on as a topping and baked.  When cool, a bench scraper works well as a cutter.  They were bagged with the citrus bars as thank-you gifts to volunteers at an event I organized and excitedly received.

Citrus Bars

The citrus bars?  This one photo speaks to my stress with this recipe.  There were lots of lemons and limes to juice, and the limes took more work.  And then I used a rimmed cookie sheet as directed for the base, but the dough came up to the rim, leaving no room for the pourable fillling!  So I moved and pressed the partially baked dough into this 9x13 pan and the rest into an 8x8 square pan, and poured the filling on top.  It worked, but some dough pieces floated to the top and it wasn't attractive.  But confectioners sugar covers up all sorts of ugly, so I was still able to gift them.

Now I did make this once before, halving the recipe and baking it in this 9x13 pan and it worked out just fine, if you want to try it.  But I'd had enough with this try, plus it's a heart attack special with the 8 eggs, pound of butter, and 4 cups of sugar (which I cut down to 3 cups without a problem).  But I really recommend those raspberry crumb bars!

Jam Crumb Bars
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
2¼ cups (11 ounces) blanched almonds, very finely ground -- I used almond flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups sugar
½ tsp salt
1¾ cups raspberry, apricot, or strawberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Butter a 15-by-10-inch rimmed baking sheet.  Line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the long sides.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together ground almonds, flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (I used the food processor).  Using your fingers, squeeze the mixture together to create pea-sized crumbs with a few larger clumps.

Transfer half of crumb mixture (about 4½ cups) to prepared baking sheet; set aside remaining mixture.  Cover with a sheet of parchment paper.  Using the back of a large spoon, press dough evenly into pan, lifting the parchment occasionally to ensure it doesn't stick.  With a wine bottle or small rolling pin, roll along the length of the pan to smooth dough.  Dough should be firmly packed, with no holes or cracks.  Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until lightly golden all over, 15 to 20 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Evenly spread jam over cooled crust.  Scatter with remaining crumb mixture, squeezing some of the mixture so that large clumps are visible and evenly distributed over the top of the jam.  Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the topping begins to turn light golden brown (the jam should not be too dark), 20 to 22 minutes.  (The topping will look pale, so don't bake longer to try to get it to turn brown, or you'll burn the bottom.)  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen; using two wide spatulas, transfer to a cutting board and cut into 3-by-2-inch bars.  Bars can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Citrus Bars
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

3½ cups plus ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup wheat germ (I omitted this with no problem)
½ cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp salt
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
8 large eggs
4 cups granulated sugar (You can cut down to 3 cups and it will still be sweet)
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbs finely grated lemon zest
1 tbs finely grated lime zest

Preheat the oven to 350°.  In a large bowl, whisk together 3½ cups flour, wheat germ, confectioners' sugar, and ½ tsp salt.  Using a pastry blender (I used food processor), cut in the butter until the largest pieces are the size of peas.

Press mixture into bottom and up sides of an ungreased 17½ -by-12½ -inch rimmed baking pan.  Bake until golden, 20 to 30 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, and remaining ⅔ cup flour until combined.  Whisk in lemon and lime juices, zests, and remaining 1 tsp salt until combined.  Pour filling onto crust.

Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until center is set, about 30 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with confectioners' sugar, and cut into bars approximately 3 by 2 inches.  Bars can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day, then kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  1. I'm glad that you tried both...because now I know which one to make! They both look delicious, but I'm sticking with the jam! Thank you for sharing, and I'm sorry if I've been a bit sparse here lately...we are going through such a trial. Thank you for all your kind words on my own blog. They mean a lot!

  2. Glad the citrus bars worked out okay in the end, but the crumb bars do look very enticing!


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