Oatmeal Jam Bars
April 22, 2011
With Easter around the corner, the house is a buzz with preparations for the Easter bunny. The chickens are busy laying eggs, the kids are dying them and collecting greens from the garden to leave for a bunny snack. As the Easter bunny’s executive assistant, I have collected some items for the bunny to present the children. We (the grown-ups at least) are not big on candy in our house (especially when the kids would presumably start eating it upon rising and discovering their baskets.)
So this year, there are books, stickers, and as a compromise, a small cache of jelly beans. I wanted there to be something special as well, something beautiful, exciting, sweet, but not so over the top that I would cringe as my kids ripped into them at 7 am. Ah ha! This year the Easter Bunny takes up baking!
Strolling through the supermarket aisles, I found a large cookie cutter in the shape of an egg. Inspired, I sought out a recipe for an oat bar which I would top with jam to create a colorful egg-shaped cookie bar. After an extensive search, I settled on a recipe for Raspberry Breakfast Bars from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. Since my pantry is still full of jam, I adapted the recipe to skip the raspberry filling (though it looks quite good and I may revisit it in raspberry season) and use my homemade jam instead. I also added coconut flakes to the crust, just because I am on a coconut kick right now.
The real trick here was to figure out a way to make sure the jam would show through. The original recipe calls for the crumb topping to cover the entire bar, but I wanted colorful polka dots of jam. To accomplish this, I tried multiple methods and settled on dotting the top of the crust with jam. Once cool, I cut them into egg shapes and bagged them individually for the Easter bunny to present. Mmmm, the smell of these bars is out of control.
Oatmeal Jam Bars
makes on 9 x 13 inch pan of bars
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and diced
2 cups jam (apricot, blackberry, raspberry, you pick!)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper so that it overhangs on both long sides (you will use this as a sling at the end). Butter the parchment.
Combine the first 8 ingredients (flour, brown sugar, oats, coconut, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon) in a bowl. Whisk to blend. Cut in butter chunks until it resembles cornmeal. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the oatmeal mixture. Evenly press the remaining into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Do not turn off oven.
While crust cools, combine jam (I used apricot and blackberry) with lemon juice. Stir. Brush a thick layer of jam over the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved oatmeal mixture over the top of the jam layer. Drop dollops of jam over the top of the crumb if you want the polka dot effect. Bake for 35-40 minutes until crust topping begins to brown. Turn baking pan halfway through to ensure even cooking. Remove baking tray from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Once bar is cool, gently lift from the pan using the parchment as a sling. Rest the bar on a cutting board. Cut into your desired shapes using a knife or cookie cutters. Store in an air-tight container, separating the layers with wax paper to prevent sticking. Bars will keep well for 2 days. You can also freeze them for later.
Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe: Oatmeal Jam Bars
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