Happy Independence Day! Well, not yet but I do like to get ahead of myself sometimes. I know for a fact that there will be cookouts, parties, potlucks, and all other kinds of celebrations going on this weekend. It’s fabulous that people gather to celebrate a common thing, surrounded by patriotism and a ton of food. There’s nothing more American than burgers and hot dogs, potato salad, and pie!
I think that in my entire lifetime, I’ve only been to one or two 4th of July cookouts. We live in the city, which is not exactly optimal for a barbecue. The few times we did end up going to one (if I remember correctly), we went to a family member’s house in Jersey. It has been a ferociously long time since we went to one of those, and I kinda miss it.
Granted, at a Dominican family’s 4th party, there’s a lot of variations to the kinds of foods served. Yeah, there are burgers and hot dogs, but there are also other kinds of grilled meat, at least three different kinds of rice dishes, potato salad (like the one I had for Christmas and Thanksgiving), and probably cake. I might be missing some items but that’s basically the gist of it. Noticeably absent from this list is the pie. As a culture, we don’t really do pie. I kind of touched on that in my Thanksgiving post, but it’s not something we have or make. Dominicans are cake people; which is why pound cakes are super popular at these things.
In an attempt to at least feel like I’m going to a barbecue, I made these bars. It’s kinda like pie but portable, easier, less messy, and possibly more delicious. While we as a culture don’t really do pie, I try to. I’ve had the trifecta of pie before: apple, cherry, and blueberry; my favorite being the cherry. I may be Dominican by blood but I was born on American soil (somewhere in DR, my uncle is inexplicably angry at this statement haha), and I like partaking in some American traditions. I’m not gonna necessarily go all out this Friday, but at least I’ll have something sort of “on topic” to eat.
These bars are so easy to make, you don’t even need a mixer! It’s basically a mix and dump kind of situation. The most labor intensive part of this recipe is the crust. Actually, it’s the only part of the recipe that requires a process. To try to make things a little simpler, I decided to freeze and grate the butter in. I briefly touched on this in my last post but basically, this is kind of a shortcut to cutting in butter with a fork or pastry cutter. I don’t have one of those and find that forks or using my hands can make the butter too warm and clumpy. So, I froze my sticks of butter for a couple hours and used a box grater to grate it in. Yes, the grating part is a little messy, as the butter starts softening up but I still find it easier than using forks to mash up butter cubes. If you hate cleaning up box graters, this shortcut isn’t for you! After grating, you can just stir it in the dry ingredients to coat and that’s it! The mix looks crumbly, just like if you cut in the butter the usual way.
I have to say, even if I wasn’t going to a party this weekend; these bars are perfect for the occasion. The crust is buttery and crumbly, with a little freshness from the lemon zest. The blueberries are naturally sweet, and a little tart from the addition of the lemon juice. Besides them being super easy and super delicious, they’re also portable. So if you are partying this weekend and need a one handed dessert, this is it!
Blueberry Crumb Bars – adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 sticks (1 cup) frozen, unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 2 pints (4 cups) fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Grate the frozen butter, using the large hole shredder, into the bowl. Add the beaten egg, and mix with a rubber spatula until coated and incorporated. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan.
- In another large bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
- Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
- This recipe is easily adaptable to whatever fruit you may have on hand; cherries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, etc.