I had a friend help me out recently and nothing says ‘thank you’ like fresh baked goods! One of her favorite things in the whole wide world is a good, old fashioned, fruit crumble. I found the 'Any Fruit' Crumble Bars recipe in The Old Farmer's Almanac Everyday Baking Cookbook.
For a recipe with a somewhat vague and non-committal title (“any fruit”? Really? Any?), it’s truly a phenomenal and versatile offering. The beauty of it is you can make so many different types of this bar depending on the preserves you like best, want to try, have in the house etc. I went with a raspberry peach champagne preserve and it was absolutely delectable. The bottom crust is dense and sugar cookie like, the preserves sit in the middle and really burst with flavor and the crumbly crust on top adds that special something as only a crumble can. And, of course, there was a whole lot of love in there too…
My friend called me later that night to thank me for the gifts and said, “I plan on gorging myself on these delicious desserts until I can’t move or fit into the shirt you got me.” Now if that’s not praise for a recipe, I don’t know what is.
Peach raspberry champagne preserves! Can’t go wrong with that combination!
Crumble makes my belly grumble.
The preserves spread evenly with a spoon and ready for the topping
Finished bars ready for the gifting! Aren’t they pretty?
CRUST AND TOPPING:
¾ cup sliced or coarsely chopped blanched almonds
¾ cup sugar, divided
½ cup fine yellow cornmeal
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
½ teaspoon vanilla extract or ¼ each vanilla and almond extracts
1 jar (12 ounces) fruit preserves, such as peach, cherry, raspberry, or apricot
Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and dust it with flour, knocking out the excess, or line it with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides.
For crust and topping: Put the almonds and ¼ cup sugar into a food processor and pulse to a coarse meal. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the remaining ½ cup of sugar, cornmeal, and salt. Stir. Add the melted butter and vanilla and stir well. The mixture will be damp but crumbly. Transfer slightly more than half the mixture to the pan. Spread it evenly, then use your fingertips to form a level layer on the bottom with a lip extending about ¼ inch up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350oF.
For filling: Stir the preserves, then drop by spoonfuls over the crust. Spread the preserves evenly with the back of a spoon. Spread the remaining crumb mixture evenly over the preserves. Tamp down gently with your fingers to compress slightly. Bake on the center oven rack for 25 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool on a rack. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Serve at room temperature. Makes 16 bars.
You can also find the 'Any Fruit' Crumble Bars recipe on page 59 of The Old Farmer's Almanac Everyday Baking Cookbook.