Growing up my parents would take my brother and I out of school each fall and for a couple of weeks, we’d camp our way up and down the Pacific Coast as suburban gypsies. We’d hit that sweet spot in between Labor Day and Thanksgiving when the weather was beautiful but the National Parks nearly empty.
Each year it seemed like the further we wandered up the Pacific Northwest, the more abundant the wild blackberry bushes. They’d be heavy with ripe fruit and, in a move that would probably qualify as child abuse today, my mom would not only let us eat the berries but encourage us to pick what seemed like thousands of the little ruby jewels. One year she even made jam. Out of wild blackberries. While camping. Bohemian or what?
Of course, in warmer Southern California, blackberries come into season in the spring. So, we don’t have to wait for the fall to enjoy them.
And, to be honest, I still had streusel on the brain.
So, what happens when you take fresh blackberry preserves (any berry would do).
And marry them with (lots of) oat streusel?
Fairly delectable blackberry oat squares.
Don McLean. While there is a good chance that my early childhood memories have blended together, Don McLean always reminds me of driving down the road in mid-October, chasing thunderstorms.
Blackberry Oat Bars
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2000
For base and topping
- 3 C old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 C + 3 TBS all-purpose flour
- 1 C packed light brown sugar
- 1 TBS finely grated fresh orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (16 TBS) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 C blackberries (3/4 pound)
- 1/3 C granulated sugar
- 2 TBS fresh orange juice
- TBS cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a 9-inch square metal baking pan with parchment, butter or mist parchment with spray oil.
Make base and topping:
Blend together oats, flour, brown sugar, zest, baking soda, and salt with fingertips until well combined. Stir in butter. Reserve 1 1/2 cup of mixture for topping; transfer remainder to baking pan, pressing it firmly in bottom to form an even layer. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
Make filling while base is baking:
Stir together berries, sugar, juice, and cornstarch in a small saucepan, then bring to a boil over moderate heat. Cook, stirring, until thick and no longer cloudy, about 5 minutes, and remove from heat.
Assemble and bake squares:
Spoon filling onto oat base, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Crumble reserved oat mixture on top.
Bake in middle of oven until golden and bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares.