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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Struesel Bars

Dear Readers, Felix distracted his mother the day this was written, and it subsequently did not get published until now. Please forgive him his transgressions, as he's only seven months old and doesn't actually have is act fully together yet. Thank you.

June 12, 2008

Last week there was fresh local rhubarb at a nearby grocery store, and situated as it was, near the yummy strawberries, I bought a few stalks. And a pound of strawberries. I had no specific plans, just an inkling that I should make something springish. Here's the rub: I don't like pie. And pie would be the obvious choice, right? So, I went to my notebook full of magazine clippings and looked for inspiration. What I found was a recipe for Blackberry Crumb Bars from a back issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. I tweaked it a little, and this is what I came up with:

Strawberry Rhubarb Streusel Bars

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, or 325 if you're using a convection oven (as I did), and liberally coat an 8"x8" square baking pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, such that the ends hang out over two opposing sides - this makes it easiest to remove the cake from the pan when it's cooled.

For the Strawberry Rhubarb Compote:

2 good sized stalks of fresh rhubarb, trimmed and stringed
One pound box of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 c. sugar

Cook the fruit and sugar in over medium low heat until they boil gently and stew together into a chunky compote. Let this cool and thicken a little. It will still be more "wet" than raw fruit, but it will do.

For the Struesel Topping:

6 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 t. Kosher salt
1 c. flour

Blend the butter, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Add the flour and mix with a fork until the mixture is a glom of moist clumps. Refrigerate while you make the bar dough.

For the Dough:

3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 stick, or 1/2 c. room temperature butter
1 c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Sift together the dry ingredients, and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Reduce your speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two additions, and blend until just combined.

Spread the dough evenly (and this is key!) in the pan, pour over the strawberry-rhubarb compote, and top with the struesel topping.

Bake until any the struesel and any visible dough is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. If you can, find a spot to test where the dough is visible, and look for a toothpick inserted to come out clean. In my convection oven, it took about 35 minutes. In a conventional oven, I'd set a timer for 40 minutes, and go from there if it doesn't look done. It's crucial that the dough be baked through properly, otherwise the wet filling will make it doughy and yuck.

Let the bars cool completely in the pan before removing by lifting out the parchment ends. I cut this into 12 bars, but that's because we're greedy and gluttonous here at my house. I also like them cold, but they're equally yummy at room temperature.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll have to try this - I ahve a big rhubarb fan in my Nerd Night crew...

6/25/08, 2:54 PM  
Anonymous LF, Inc said...

OK, that blows my lame-ass strawberry rhubarb pie away. I'm so making this next year (having made said pie, my baking committment is done for the year)

6/28/08, 6:17 PM  

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