Feature Fridays: Baking for a Crowd ~ Summer Picnic Style
It’s summer. And, it’s time to go on a picnic. Or, host a cookout. Or, bake something special just because it is summer.
It’s also time to serve a crowd. In fact, today’s Feature Fridays is all about baking to please a crowd. And, we’re going to do it “summer picnic style”. What is both easy to bake and yet will be sure to knock everyone’s socks off and make the day special? Our Cherry Pie Crumble Bars made with our Homemade Tart Cherry Pie Filling, of course!
Do it. Bake a batch. You won’t regret it. You’ll be a rock star.
Seriously. Sour (tart) cherries are called “pie cherries” for a reason. They are simply the best cherries for pie. The best. They are truly divine. The unearthly super-bright red orbs turn into a deep, eye-catching ruby-red hue once baked which just makes my heart go pitter-pat. And, they pack a fruity-tart flavor profile to knock any ol’ berry on its bum. (Sorry berries. I do love you. But, tart cherries rock my world.) You need to bake these bars packed with deliciousness as soon as humanly possible, y’all. Our Cherry Pie Crumble Bars taste just like tart cherry pie! I kid you not. But, without the muss. And, the fuss. Of a pie. Bonus.
Being a bona fide tart cherry pie lover (this girl knows her pies), take my word for it that these Cherry Pie Crumble Bars taste just like tart cherry pie with a rich pastry crust. Why? Because I
designed tweaked this recipe specifically to create the ultimate rich, buttery crumble pastry with just the right amount of sugar and salt to complement any fruit filling. The goal was to develop a crumble pastry recipe to taste more like classic pie pastry rather than a typical crumble bar. I wanted enough salty-sweet action to “dance the merengue” on the tongue with both tart and sweet fruit fillings for these very special “crumble pie bars”.
Most crumble pastry recipes are flavorless. They need a major flavor boost by using real butter (not shortening), richness from egg yolks, a touch of pure extracts, the perfect amount of sugar and adequate salt. Just ask your taste buds. They won’t lie to you. Ever.
And, because this pastry was designed for my favorite crumble bar filling ever (ever, peeps!), Homemade Tart Cherry Pie Filling, a little splash of pure almond extract was in order. Why? Because cherries without almond extract is like a beautiful lady dressed to the nines in a drop dead gorgeous red dress without a subtle alluring perfume. The result? Sheer bliss, people! I had to stop myself from eating the whole pan.
See that juicy tart cherry pie filling dripping ever so sweetly (tartly)? Perfection.
Our Homemade Tart Cherry Pie Filling is thickened just right so the filling isn’t too runny once baked by accounting for the natural juices of the cherries so they ooze all sorts of goodness throughout the bars. Nom!
I know. I’m such a tease.
Today’s featured recipe is one that I have made countless times. Countless. Quite often, I make traditional Blueberry Crumb Bars as summer blueberry treats are The Big Lug’s favorites. After making them the first time well over 10 years ago now with the recipe found at AllRecipes.com, I have since made fillings made with raspberries, mixed berries and apple. In a pinch, I have made it with quality strawberry preserves and some frozen whole raspberries. I’ve even made these bars with a ribbon of cheesecake for an extra indulgent crumble bar.
OK, since I have teased and tantalized you with fresh tart cherries from our cherry picking field trip, the least I can do is offer you an alternative to making your own tart cherry pie filling so you can whip up a batch of these incredibly tasty bars. My favorite way of baking these quick and easy-to-assemble “pie bars” when tart cherries cannot be had fresh is with Fruit Perfect® Sour Cherries made with tart Montmorency cherries from my native Michigan by American Spoon Foods. It’s. That. Good.
I say, go for it. You will love it! And, no. I was not paid for saying so. I just adore the stuff. It’s a Michigan thing.
What dessert would you bring to a picnic to serve a crowd?
What makes our Cherry Pie Crumble Bars wicked good? A sumptuous homemade cherry pie filling made with plenty of fresh picked tart cherries as well as a crumble pastry with just the right salty-sweet and buttery richness you would expect in a darn good tart cherry pie. Irresistible.
And, did we mention easy? Yes, this recipe is incredibly easy. What’s not to love?
What makes our Cherry Pie Crumble Bars wicked good? A sumptuous homemade cherry pie filling made with plenty of fresh picked tart cherries as well as a crumble pastry with just the right salty-sweet and buttery richness you would expect in a darn good tart cherry pie. Did we mention easy? Yes, this recipe is incredibly easy. What’s not to love?
- For the Crust & Crumble Top Pastry
- 3½ cups (438 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal®
- 1¼ cups (250 grams) granulated organic cane sugar, such as Zulka®
- 1¼ teaspoons (6 grams) baking powder
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon (3.6 to 4.8 grams) kosher salt, or ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cups (2½ sticks/282.5 grams) unsalted butter, chilled & cut into bits
- 2 large egg yolks (mine weighed 36 grams), lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) pure almond extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
- Shortening, to prepare pan, such as organic palm by Spectrum®
- For the Tart Cherry Pie Filling
- 4 cups (2 pints/1080 grams) Homemade Tart Cherry Pie Filling, by Wicked Good Kitchen™
- Special Supplies
- Parchment paper, for lining baking pan, such as Beyond Gourmet™
Arrange oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch metal baking pan with shortening. (I like to use my Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch® Nonstick Rectangular Cake Pan.) Line pan with baking parchment so there is an overhang. Do this by measuring parchment 4 inches in length additionally at each side of pan. This will allow 2 inches of coverage on each end once folded and tucked in. Lightly grease parchment paper. This will create “handles” which will help removing bars from pan and to transfer to cutting board to cut into even bars after chilling.
Prepare the Crust & Crumble Top Pastry: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal with small pea-sized pieces of butter. (Alternatively, process in your food processor until mixture is crumbly.) In a small bowl, whisk extracts into beaten egg yolks using a fork. With a fork, gently toss into flour mixture until moistened and dough starts to hold together. Continue to toss and blend gently with fingertips until well combined yet taking care not to overwork the dough.
Remove 2 generous cups of the crumb mixture and set aside for the topping in a small bowl. Press remaining dough evenly into prepared baking pan. Spoon Tart Cherry Pie Filling into pan on top of dough and spread evenly with rubber spatula; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.
Bake in preheated oven until topping is golden brown and filling is cooked through and bubbly, about 45 to 55 minutes. To prevent over-browning of topping, cover with sheet of aluminum foil during last 20 minutes of baking. Remove foil and carefully transfer to wire rack to cool completely before cutting into squares. See Tips below for cutting into even squares.
To Serve Bars: Serve at room temperature, chilled or slightly warmed in microwave oven. If desired, serve warm with fresh whipped cream or a la mode with vanilla ice cream.
Tips:For even cut squares, cool bars for 1 hour on wire rack. Then, chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Remove from pan using folded parchment paper at sides of pan as “handles”. Transfer to large cutting board. Carefully cut into even squares using a ruler as a guide with a sharp chef’s knife peeling away parchment paper as you go. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature or in the refrigerator. For Gluten-Free Option: Substitute 3½ cups (448 grams) Cup4Cup (C4C) Gluten-Free Flour, available at Williams-Sonoma, or your favorite gluten-free flour blend measured cup for cup or by grams in place of the all-purpose wheat flour called for in the recipe. Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.com
Adapted From: AllRecipes.com