Blackberry Crumb Bars

Fresh blackberry preserves over a shortbread like crust. Topped with a crispy crumb topping. 

Sunday mornings we bake for our church, and this was the treat of choice this week. I love to bake and make sweets, but it isn’t the best for my waistline. Instead of making these for myself, I prefer to enjoy a bar and share the rest. I get the joy of eating it and the satisfaction that others get to enjoy them too. A win-win if you ask me! I have tried making this before and didn’t like the way it turned out, so I made a few tweaks for the better. The crust is more firm and doesn’t fall apart in your hand, yet isn’t dry. I went a little overboard buying fruit for our vacation, so to prevent it from going to waste, I made preserves. 

I used a 9×13 inch pan and made about 21 bars. Of course you can make yours bigger, but the preserves make them so rich you won’t need a larger bar to fully enjoy it. 

Here is what you need:

Crust and crumble top

3 cups flour

3/4 cup butter (cold)

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

Berry Filling

3 cups blackberries (can use strawberries and blueberries)

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

Prepare your berries first. Clean and place in a pan with the sugar on low heat. Mash a few of the berries to create moisture and mix well with the sugar. Summer on low, stirring occasionally. You will cook this for a while. The goal is to reduce the berries to a thick preserve or jam consistancy. Keep in mind that as it cools down, it will thicken more. 

While your berries simmer, start the crust. Very important to read this part! You make the crust and bake it before you pour the preserves on top! Missing this step will make your bars soggy and mushy. Yuck! Trust me! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get started on your crust. 

Combine the flour,  sugar and salt.  Mix while cutting in the cold butter. Mix until you see pea sized chunks of butter. Separate 1/4 of the mixture and set aside. Next add your egg to the bowl. A soft dough ball should form once mixed. Divide the mixture into thirds, pressing 2/3 evenly across the base of a greased 9×13 inch pan, approxamently 1 centimeter thickness. Before placing it in the oven, using a fork, poke the crust all over to allow air to penetrate the crust while it bakes. This will allow it to cook evenly. The crust will also expend slightly once cooked. Bake until it starts to turn golden brown on top. Don’t over cook, because you don’t want it to harden. The crust will be baked once more after you put the remaining ingredients on top. 

Once cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to cook slightly while you prepare your topping. Combine the dough ball with the crumbs you set aside. As you combine, try to make a crumble rather than just mixing. Additional 1/4 cup flour can be added if it seems too wet or you have difficulty getting it to crumble. 

If you turned off your oven to prep the crumble, turn it back on and preheat to 350. Pour your preserves over the cooled crust and top with the prepared crumble. Place back in the oven and bake approxemently 15 minutes or until the top starts to turn golden brown. Be careful to watch it. Since the top is made of butter and flour, it can burn easily. 

Let the pan cool fully before you cut them into bars. You will have a hard time removing them from the pan if you don’t.