Berry buckwheat crumb bars

berry crumb bars

Crumb bars, crumble bars, streusel bars — whatever you call them, I’m a fan. Mostly because they belong to my favorite food category, rustic fruit bressert (that’s breakfast and/or dessert).

COVID lockdown has made it extra challenging this year to keep track of the date, but thankfully the seasons still change. We are in the middle of berry season here in Ontario. And while I wasn’t sure if our annual traditions of strawberry and cherry picking would be possible this year, happily we managed to do both.

My family loves fresh fruit like candy, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to actually make anything with the berries. But I squirreled away just enough to make these delightful berry crumb bars. I had some for breakfast and some for dessert and can confirm they go down equally well for either.

A few notes:
  • As with most fruit desserts, I love adding some wholegrain flour for extra flavor. If you don’t have buckwheat on hand, try rye, einkorn, or spelt! Or just substitute with more all-purpose if you don’t have any whole grains stocked.
  • For the filling, I used a mix of (very ripe) strawberries, cherries, and some miscellaneous frozen berries that I had lurking in the freezer. I fully defrosted the frozen berries and drained off the extra liquid to avoid a soggy crust.
  • Because my fruit was mostly quite ripe and juicy, I didn’t need to add much sweetener. If your fruit isn’t so ripe, adjust the sugar to taste or try mixing with a little jam.
berry crumb bars stacked

Berry buckwheat crumb bars

Makes one 8×8 pan

Ingredients:

For the crumb mixture:
  • 190g (1 1/2 c) all purpose flour
  • 60g (1/2 c) buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 50g (1/4 c) granulated sugar
  • 50g (1/4 c) light brown sugar
  • 200g (14 T) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 30g (1/3 c) rolled oats
  • 30g (1/4 c) sliced almonds (or other chopped nuts)
  • 30g (2 Tbsp) turbinado sugar
For the fruit filling:
  • 400g (~2 1/2 c) mixed berries, finely diced (if frozen, thaw and drain before using — see notes above)
  • 13g (1 Tbsp) sugar (or to taste)
  • 12g (1 1/2 Tbsp) cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with two long criss-crossed pieces of parchment, leaving a couple of inches of overhang on all sides. (This will make it easy to remove the bars later.) Lightly grease the parchment.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flours, salt, and sugars. Pulse to combine. Scatter the cold, cubed butter over the top. Pulse until the mixture forms clumps but is not completely smooth (this took me about 20-25 short pulses).
  3. Transfer about a third (~180g) of the mixture to a separate bowl. Add the oats, almonds, and turbinado sugar and use your fingertips to quickly pinch in, forming a clumpy streusel. Refrigerate until needed.
  4. Transfer the remaining two-thirds (~360g) of the mixture to the prepared pan. Use your fingers or the bottom of a small glass or measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Prick all over with a fork. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until just set. Transfer to a wire rack while you prepare the fruit filling (no need to let it cool completely).
  5. To make the filling, stir together the fruit, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and lemon juice. Spoon the fruit mixture evenly over the par-baked crust, then sprinkle evenly with the reserved streusel mixture.
  6. Bake until the crumb topping is golden and the fruit juices are bubbling in the center, about 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing (for cleanest results, chill for an hour in the refrigerator). Refrigerate leftover bars in an airtight container for up to 5 days; serve cold or at room temperature.