I will admit it — I tried this recipe for raspberry crumb bars because of the technique. Well, I also tried it because it involved shortbread (one of my favorite types of cookies, apparently). Really though, it was the technique that drew me in. First sugar and (an ungodly amount of) butter are creamed together, portioned out and chilled. The base layer of shortbread is easily molded into the shape of the pan by pushing the dough with your finger tips. The same layer is chilled again, then baked and cooled. Easy and traditional right?
The jam layer comes next, just open your favorite jar of the sweet stuff (no need to stick only to raspberry), spread an even layer and set aside. Here’s the unusual part: you take your reserved portion of chilled dough from the refrigerator (or freezer, if you are trying to move things along), and get this — you grate the dough using a cheese grater to create the crumb topping. How smart! Ingenious, even! Just when I think I have seen it all I come across a new recipe that knocks my socks off with a new use/technique for a seemingly well known kitchen tool.
The whole thing is baked again, set to cool and cut into squares. For some reason the recipe instructs you to cut a 9- by 13-inch rectangle of raspberry crumble into nine pieces. Does that sound like crazy talk to anyone else? Being one to always cut a generous slice of pie or grab the biggest cookie in the jar I usually like a large portioned treat but this took it to a new level. The greatest part about baking at home is that you can indulge as little or as much as you want. I cut my raspberry crumb bars into 2-inch squares and that proved to be a more civilized size for us. Although, regardless of their portion size, these raspberry crumb bars were spectacular. Try making them for Mother’s Day with her favorite flavor of jam — I bet she would love them.
Some big news: So Marguerite, where have you been the last few days? My mind has really been elsewhere for the last week or so because Ryan and I got engaged! I am over the moon (yet slightly terrified about planning a wedding). In the meantime, I cannot wait to start cooking again after being away from my kitchen for almost two weeks. Great things are ahead!
raspberry crumb bars
adapted from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe
yields 9 very large bars, or 18 more reasonable ones
24T (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3T confectioners’ sugar
1t vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1-1/4c all-purpose flour
1-1/2c cake flour
3/4t baking powder
1-1/2c raspberry jam with seeds
1/4c confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Using a stand mixer and paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and egg yolk until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula to incorporate all of the yolk. Sift together the dry ingredients. Slowly blend the flour into the butter mixture on low speed until everything in the bowl is combined.
Scrape dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Divide the dough into two piles — 1/4 and 3/4 of the dough. Wrap the 1/4 piece of the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Press the 3/4 piece of dough into a 9- by 13-inch baking pan into an even layer. Refrigerate it for 20-30 minutes until firm but still pliable. Wrap the remaining ¼ of the dough in plastic and freeze.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes until the shortbread is light brown. Remove from the oven, and while the shortbread layer is still warm, spoon jam evenly on top (an offset spatula is very useful here).
Remove the frozen shortbread and use a hand-held grater with large holes to grate it into flakes. Evenly sprinkle the grated shortbread over the jam. Return it to the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, and cut into desired number of bars. Squares may be stored for up to 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature.