Life is still crazy and I am trying to maintain my own sanity through all the craziness that is swirling around right now. I have been back on my dessert kick, despite my best efforts to try and get a better sweet/savory balance around here. I get a lot of comfort from baking, and, thanks to all the chaos, I have been yearning for that comfort and reassurance.
These bars are about as "comfort food" as you can get. They are a really yummy dessert and would probably make a darn good breakfast treat, too. They've got oatmeal in them and oatmeal's breakfast food, right? If there's one thing that Southerners have done for ages, it's trying to justify eating dessert any old time we want and saying it's good for us -- putting vegetables like zucchini and carrots in our breads and cakes, putting beans in pies (there's a traditional Southern pie whose filling is made from navy beans), we even put tomato soup in cake (if you want my recipe, click here.) Surely with all that oatmeal and jam I can qualify these bars as being somewhat good for me. I'll just ignore the pile of butter and sugar and soak up all the comfort I can.
Mix together your dry stuff, including a good measure of oats and brown sugar.
Cube up a pile of cold butter.
Get out your trusty pastry blender (or a fork) and get to working that butter into the dry stuff.
Once you're done blending, your mixture will look lumpy, like little oat-y peas.
Press 2/3rds of the crumb mixture into an ungreased baking dish.
Spread some jam over the top of the crust. You can use any type of jam you prefer. I used apricot, but these are also delicious with strawberry or raspberry jam. Put the rest of the crumble on top and pack it down just a little. Then throw it all in the oven and let the delicious, toasty aroma envelop you.
These are indeed crumbly to the extreme, so don't try to be too dainty about things. Just dig in and relax.
Apricot Crumble Bars
makes 24 bars
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup butter, cut into cubes
1 cup apricot jam (or any flavor you might prefer)
Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, oats, and brown sugar. With a pastry blender or a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Place about 2/3rds of the mixture in an ungreased 11x7" baking dish. Using your fingers, press the mixture down firmly in an even layer. Spread the jam over the top of the crust. Cover evenly with the remaining oat mixture, press down lightly, being careful to cover the jam completely. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until just barely browned. Cool completely in the pan. Cut into squares to serve.