These may look deceptively simple, and possibly even basic, but they got rave reviews from all tasters this weekend. I’ve made a version of these bars before from Karen DeMasco’s book, The Craft of Baking, but they were much more buttery and shortbread-like. This version is lighter. The recipe called for jam, but I was all out and had a quart of fresh strawberries, so I roasted them with raw sugar and a pinch of salt. The kitchen smelled amazing and the fruit gets jammy and dark-edged. Mixed with more raw sugar, they make a much better substitute for jam. They have a deep roasted flavor and I think using fresh fruit is the key to making these bars great. The dough seemed too crumbly to hold together at first, but press it carefully into the pan, and once they cool, I recommend refrigerating them overnight. Once they have chilled, they hold together perfectly.
ROASTED STRAWBERRY OAT BARS
1 quart fresh strawberries
2 heaping tablespoons raw sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice and quarter your strawberries. Toss them with the salt and raw sugar and spread them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, until jammy and starting to brown on the edges.
Increase oven to 375 degrees. Butter and line an 8 inch round baking dish (I used a cake pan; you could substitute a larger dish for thinner bars). In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the flour, oats, butter, sugar, baking powder and salt (you could also do this by hand). Once the dough is crumbly and well-mixed, press 2 cups of the dough into the pan. Make sure it is all pressed down. Add the roasted strawberries on top with a couple extra tablespoons of raw sugar (depending on how sweet you like it). Mash the strawberries into a jammy layer. Add the remaining dough on top and press lightly.
Bake for 25 minutes, until the top begins to get golden brown. If you eat it warm, it will be a little looser in texture. So perhaps over ice cream? With cream? Go wild.