Raspberry Oat Crumble Bars

February 7, 2012 at 2:32 am 95 comments

I took a bite

I caved the other day and bought a box of raspberries.

When I saw the carton at Trader Joe’s, I remembered Bainbridge Island. Our family friends live there, a tiny island off the coast of Washington state, and my mom and I were lucky enough to visit last summer. I fell in love with the ocean, still icy cold in July, and with the sky, an endless band of blue pressed against the beach. One morning I woke at sunrise to go crab fishing. Another afternoon I walked “downtown,” which referred to two buildings – a general store and the post office.

But my happiest memories are the times I spent grazing in their garden. Fresh artichokes, several potato varieties, the sweetest snap peas I’ve ever tasted. And raspberries. I ate handfuls of raspberries until I just couldn’t. I craved the way each section burst with juice, still warm from the sunshine. Some berries were so tender they broke in my hand, staining my fingertips pink.

Standing there in the grocery store, I thought about all that, and about all the other good things that came with the garden. Sundresses and lolling dog tongues and a boat that smelled like crab bait. And I knew I couldn’t leave without those raspberries.

Crumble bars

I hadn’t had a raspberry since July! I was so excited I didn’t even wait to get back to my dorm, just opened the carton right on the train. These berries definitely looked the part. Big as thimbles, red as lipstick, the tops curved into perfect “O”s. I popped one into my mouth and waited for magic.

I felt the seeds crack between my teeth. The berry barely yielded any juice. Bitter disappointment.

It’s not that I can never eat another raspberry unless it’s just-picked and still breathing. I’m not on Bainbridge Island. I don’t expect that level of fantasy perfection in everyday life. But I think I’ve learned my lesson about buying imported raspberries in the dead of winter.

Raspberry Oat Crumble Bars

Instead, I decided to make some new memories using a jar of raspberry jam. I still have my baking box – a steamer trunk my dad and I refurbished the summer before college – snuggled beneath my dorm bed. Inside, I’ve stashed cake pans, half sheets, piping tips, cookie cutters, ceramic ramekins for baking custards… and one very weathered, very humbled 9×9” pan. I washed the pan twice, piled it high with ingredients, and carried it down the hall to the kitchen.

Raspberry Oat Crumble Bars don’t disappoint. They look good on a picnic table in July, and in a college common room in February. The bars bake up into three layers of shortbread goodness, sweet raspberry, and buttery crumble. They taste like brown sugar and old-fashioned oats, with a healthy smear of jam oozing out the middle.

But what I especially like about these bars is that you can tweak them to make your own memories. Add toasted coconut or fresh fruit. Throw in a handful of pecans, some chocolate chips, or a couple healthy shakes of cinnamon. Use apple butter, blackberry jam, or your neighbor’s homemade peach preserves.

One little square

Here’s what I’ll remember next time I make these bars: the weight of the jar in my hand as I stood in the grocery store and considered the possibilities. Bubbling jam as I scooted the pan out of the oven. The crackle of parchment paper, buttery crumbs all over the table, and the look on my RA’s face when she walked in and blurted, “That smells so good!”

I like to think I’ll remember being a college student who still liked to eat well all year long.

Stacked bars

My only note for this recipe – I decreased the sugar from the original recipe and thought they were great, but they’re definitely on the sweet side. I’d recommend using a quality jam that isn’t too sugary.

Raspberry Oat Crumble Bars
Tweaked from Gourmet
Makes an 9×9″ pan

1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 oz (10 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, then add the butter and pulse until a dough starts to form. Blend in the milk. (If you don’t have a food processor you could do this with an electric mixer, a pastry cutter, or even a fork and man power.) Transfer the dough-bits to a bowl and knead in the oats until well combined.

Put 3/4 cup dough off to the side (this will be used as the crumble.) Press the rest of the dough evenly into a buttered 9×9″ metal baking pan (I lined the pan with parchment paper and skipped the buttering). Spread the jam evenly over the top (if the jam seems tough to spread, heating it a little could help.) Crumble the reserved dough evenly over the top.

Bake in the center of the oven until golden, 20-25 minutes, and cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use a knife to loosen the sides, lift it out, and cut into bars on a cutting board.

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95 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jenny M.  |  February 7, 2012 at 2:43 am

    This looks like the raspberry shortbread bars I’ve been looking everywhere for! I will definitely have to try making this. Thanks for sharing :)

    Reply
  • 2. Bold Wandering  |  February 7, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Looks so good. I also really enjoy the printer-friendly versions.

    Reply
  • 3. jothetartqueen  |  February 7, 2012 at 3:00 am

    I love raspberry and I love crumble! Im sure they did not disappoint!
    Gonna make some with my mandarin marmalade.

    Reply
  • 4. Kathryn  |  February 7, 2012 at 5:20 am

    Oh I want to make this right these minute!

    Reply
  • 5. Danae  |  February 7, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Beautiful blog post, Elissa. I’m going to make these this week!

    Reply
  • 6. Warm Vanilla Sugar  |  February 7, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Lovely story of you and your family :) These bars sound so yummy!

    Reply
  • 7. Becca@learnasyougocook  |  February 7, 2012 at 9:03 am

    I love raspberries! Sad to say I have never had them fresh and your description made me want to hunt down a pick-your-own farm. But these bars look delicious! I must make these for myself. Do you think they could pass off as a breakfast bar?;)

    Reply
  • 8. Cookie  |  February 7, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I love your sentence, “t’s not that I can never eat another raspberry unless it’s just-picked and still breathing.” Beautiful writing. AND, yummy recipe. I love raspberries with anything, but I’ve always loved them mixed with brown sugar and oats in a crumble bar! Thanks!

    Reply
  • 9. Katherine O. Cooper  |  February 7, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Reblogged this on Attendance Please.

    Reply
  • 10. Steve McEvoy  |  February 7, 2012 at 11:47 am

    “An endless band of blue pressed against the beach” That, Elissa, is poetry.

    Reply
  • 11. Becca @ Cook, Rejoice, Repeat  |  February 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Ooh, I can just picture these with peach jam and coconut … yum! Thanks muchly for another quality recipe!

    Reply
  • 12. Tina @ bitemeshowme  |  February 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    This is a great treat. I love how it is so simple! Great job! x

    Reply
  • 13. Elissa's Dad  |  February 7, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    As I began reading I was thinking, Nooooooo! It’s February, please please don’t buy them!!!

    We have talked many times of the joy that the agony of anticipation brings as we wait for the season and time and beauty of food. How many times have we said lets wait until tomorrow, that tomato will be perfect tomorrow, or in two more weeks we can buy the melons-that is when they will really be right.

    Even now I can’t help but think of the perfect summer peach, there is joy and pain in the waiting, the anticipation and the reward comes, like finding another post from my most precious joy, in the sweet bite and the reading…

    Miss you <3

    Reply
  • 14. Maria  |  February 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I make something similar with cranberries in the fall and it’s sooo good. Whenever I make them with raspberry preserves, I drizzle a lil white chocolate on top for some pizazz.

    Reply
  • 15. Elissa  |  February 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Those look absolutely delicious! I love reading your blog!

    Reply
  • 16. Erika  |  February 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Looks wonderful. Have to switch up the raspberries in all those raspberry recipes I have been seeing. lol But I know these are good with blueberry jam. yum. Hope your school is going well.

    Reply
  • 17. Briana Vega  |  February 8, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    I made these today and i followed the recipe and there was no way the dough was going to fit in a 9×13 sheet!!! i had to use a 6×10 pan! Idk???

    Reply
    • 18. Elissa  |  February 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Briana – sorry to hear that! I know that others have successfully used this recipe with a 9×9″ pan. Hopefully the recipe still worked out for you.

    • 19. Brenda  |  February 12, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      Definitely not enough dough for 9×13 inch pan. Used 9×9 instead and it was fine.

    • 20. Neva  |  February 19, 2012 at 12:26 am

      I think the problem is that the original recipe says 9 x 9 pan, but the printable version states 9 x 13.

  • 21. Katie  |  February 8, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    It’s that time of the year where the farmer’s markets are really winding down and it’s far too tempting to go for that pint of raspberries. It seems like you put yours to good use. These bars look delicious!

    Reply
  • 22. nicolejb  |  February 9, 2012 at 12:57 am

    you’re such an excellent writer! those bars looks delicious; i think i’ll try to make them this weekend. x nicole

    Reply
  • 23. Liz Marsden  |  February 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Those look gorgeous, I love the idea of all the different recipes you can make with them :)

    Talking of fresh fruit, in the UK in summer there are plenty of farms where you can pay to pick your own soft fruit (usually strawberries) – do you have those in the USA?

    Reply
    • 24. Ayshela  |  February 14, 2012 at 6:02 am

      oh yes, yes we do! They’re not everywhere, but they’re heavenly when you haven’t a space to grow your own. =)

  • 25. Rachel  |  February 11, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Hey there! I haven’t commented in awhile, but know I’m still reading. :)
    Still haven’t seen you at my blog yet, but thats okay. I just finished posted pictures of my Beauty and the Beast Cake and my Ankylosaurus Dinosaur Cake. ( http://rachie–cakes.blogspot.com/ )

    Just wanted to let you know that all my cakes started when I saw your violin cake. :)

    Keep on baking! :D
    <3 Rachel

    Reply
  • 26. Rachel  |  February 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks for dropping by! :D I don’t remember if blogger sends you an email if I respond or not, so I thought I’d just leave you another comment here.

    But thank you so much for checking out my blog! You have no idea how much your compliment means to me. :D

    Thanks again for all the inspiration, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next! :)

    <3 Rachel

    Reply
  • 27. Sue  |  February 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    This is one of my favorite recipes!

    Reply
  • 28. Sarah  |  February 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    My best friend from high school makes jam bars just like these. We were allowed to leave the building during lunch and my group of friends used to have “potluck picnics” in the park when it was warm, and she always brought these crumble bars. That’s the first memory that came to mind when I saw the picture at the top of this post.
    I hope that your first month or so back at school has been good! I loved reading your posts about your travels (and was insanely jealous about all of them!)

    Reply
  • 29. Ellen  |  February 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    You really used a 9×13 inch here? I made them today (so good!), but they are much thinner than yours. Did you use more dough, or maybe a 9×9? Confused.

    Reply
    • 30. Elissa  |  February 12, 2012 at 2:23 am

      Ellen – You know, maybe it was a 9×9″. I’m going to change it on the post. Glad they still tasted good!

  • 31. Sarah  |  February 12, 2012 at 8:57 am

    ooo these look great, I can’t wait to make them! By oats do you mean the kind used to make porridge/oatmeal? Thanks :)

    Reply
  • 32. ellen  |  February 12, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    So disappointed, printed this recipe on Friday when the instructions said 9×13 pan. I made them tonight and they were very very thin and burned in a few spots.
    I will use the recipe again with a few modifications (and obviously a smaller pan).

    Reply
  • 33. Vicki  |  February 12, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    This looks so yummy — your lovely photos always pop with so much color! I love blueberries so I plan to try this recipe with blueberries. Any ideas on what I can use as a substitute for the 5 oz of unsalted butter? Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • 34. Elissa  |  February 14, 2012 at 2:08 am

      Vicki – Thank you! I think you could substitute with margarine, shortening, maybe even solid coconut oil if you feel like experimenting. Let us know how it goes!

      Ellen – I’m so sorry they were disappointing. If you give them another shot I hope they meet your expectations. :)

  • 35. Shelley  |  February 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Elissa! Long time reader, first time commenter here. Just wanted to say, I made these last night for our Downton Abbey viewing party and they were FANTASTIC! I couldn’t believe how easy they were to make and so very scrumptious. I didn’t have brown sugar so I used white cane sugar + about a T of honey. Worked perfectly! They were so moist. I had another square for breakfast – even better the next day with coffee! Next time, I’d like to try doubling the recipe and making a 9×13 pan of them. Do you think those ratios would work out? I loved them so much and only wish there were more!

    Reply
    • 36. Elissa  |  February 14, 2012 at 2:07 am

      Shelley – So glad you liked it! I think you could double it and use a 9×13 with success.

  • 37. kyleen  |  February 16, 2012 at 12:08 am

    These bars are gorgeous! Ahh, how I miss summer fruits and berries right now.

    Reply
  • 38. Choc Chip Uru  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:55 am

    You are absolutely amazing – I am a 16 year old baker almost with 1/2 a yrs worth of experience in blogging and I am wondering now if I will ever get to your level – this looks so professional!
    Thanks for inspiring :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    Reply
  • 39. Raspberry oat crumble bar | Kin Kitchens  |  February 17, 2012 at 3:14 am

    [...] What a wonderful 7-ingredient recipe: your basic flour, salt, brown sugar, butter, milk, and then oats and raspberry jam. I even added some apple sauce to my almost-empty jam to up the amount, only a slight alteration to 17 and Baking’s recipe. [...]

    Reply
  • 40. Bandarísk hjónabandssæla | Eldað í Vesturheimi  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    [...] (Uppskrift frá 17 and baking) [...]

    Reply
  • 41. Sue/the view from great island  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    I have been scoping out the raspberries myself, and now, thanks to you, I have an excuse to buy a pack. I usually don’t buy out of season, but by mid to late February I just can’t control the urge to get berries. I can’t wait to try these squares.

    Reply
  • 42. Jam crumble bars | hungryhinny  |  February 18, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    [...] keep and transport well for the friendly pony to take to work, and as soon as I saw these bars on 17 and Baking I knew they would be [...]

    Reply
  • 43. Juliane  |  February 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    What a gorgeous blog Elissa! I love to make apricot oat bars and will definitely try these with raspberry! Delish!! ~Juliane of http://www.StyleNectar

    Reply
  • 44. erica  |  February 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    i made these this weekend – sooo good. i added a lemony glaze on top and it made them over the top gooey and awesome. super easy recipe too, i can’t wait to try with different types of jam

    Reply
  • 45. Amanda  |  February 21, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Hello! I’m new here :). I must say I love your pictures and your food looks DELICIOUS.

    Reply
  • 46. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence  |  February 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Simple and delicious! This is my first time visiting your blog and it looks pretty darn tasty :)

    Reply
  • 47. Kristina  |  February 26, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    These look amazing, your pictures are so gorgeous! I have a serious weak spot for raspberry bars and yours look perfect!

    Reply
  • 48. Bargainmoose  |  February 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    These look amazing! I haven’t tried raspberry bars from scratch, only from pre made mix! I love that these are a great treat for any time of year, and everyone dies for them! Thanks for this great recipe! I can’t wait to try it :) -Kate

    Reply
  • 49. Julie@Sweetgumbakery  |  March 1, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Beautiful pictures and the recipe sounds delicious, its the end of summer in Australia and im already mourning the loss of the summer berries in the shops.

    Reply
  • 50. El  |  March 5, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Elissa, these look wonderful. Save some for me!

    Reply
  • 51. Katie  |  March 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    These look and sound amazing!

    Reply
  • 52. cookingcollegechick  |  March 16, 2012 at 1:39 am

    These look so delicious and the raspberry color is great for spring. Your photos are so pretty. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
  • 53. Kammie  |  March 17, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    I want one RIGHT NOW! <3

    Reply
  • 54. Jahnavi @ Indian Khana Made Easy  |  March 25, 2012 at 12:41 am

    I was in the mood for something sweet and these pictures definitely caught my eye. The recipe looks easy enough, should try it. I’m not sure if I have raspberry jam but have a feeling I can use other flavors as well. Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply
  • 55. melissabedinger  |  March 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    This is so bizarre! I found your blog through the Daring Kitchen and I used to live on Bainbridge Island! Miss those PNW berries :) :) :)

    Reply
  • 56. Jenna  |  March 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Hi Elissa =))

    I’m new to your blog, I found it via Smitten Kitchen’s list of blogs she likes – I read a few and couldn’t stop.. I admit I went all the way back to the beginning and read all of your posts from the start. You are an incredible incredible writer, and being a part of your journey in baking as well as your everyday life has been extremely inspiring. I’m now at the beginning, and reading it all from the beginning until now feels like getting to the end of a novel you can’t put down.. except that thankfully its not the end!! I am patiently waiting your next post to see where life has taken you next and what amazing and delicious recipe you have to share. I love to cook, and am more of a cook than a baker myself, but nonetheless I love and am inspired by every post and hope to try one of your recipes soon.

    Thank you so much for sharing your life this way.. and using your amazing gifts to bring everyone who comes across your site joy.
    Thank you for being you!!

    Reply
  • 57. Sudhakar  |  March 28, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Love that first photo

    Reply

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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