When summer comes around, all this girl wants is berries.
Unfortunately, just because I crave them doesn’t always mean I’m getting them at the exact right time.
Berries are tricky. You can access them all year, usually grown in South and Central America, or California. And they’re fine. But, I really live for the freshly picked, local lovelies that come around in July and August.
My best blueberry moment came in 2014, just a few weeks before I was heading to Montreal, at the peak of blueberry season. C. and I were heading to Bar Harbour to celebrate the summer and do some exploring. I wanted to soak up as much East Coast as I could before moving inland.
We decided, at the last minute, to do a very tricky hike at Acadia National Park. It’s called the Precipice Trail (it’s as scary as it sounds). It’s an iron rung trail, 1,000 feet straight up a cliff face toward the peak. I was an inexperienced hiker and am still terrified of heights, but wanting to impress C., took it on anyway.
In the end, I was so glad I did it. I’m beaming, dripping with sweat, in our photos from the peak. On the way down (mercifully, not an iron rung trail), the path was lined with wild blueberry bushes. Ravenous from the hike, we plucked handful after handful on the way down. The ultimate post-hike recovery.
These crumb bars came from the same sort of spontaneity that hike did. I wasn’t doing anything and I wanted to try something new. Plus, I love blueberries and any variation on pie.
I stuck pretty close to the original recipe on these guys. I had a few extra frozen wildberries leftover and mixed them into my filling. I also decided to get a little wild and cut some cream cheese into my crumb dough. I wanted to give these bars a bit of extra oomph.
It was a good decision.
This recipe made a massive batch, many of which were enjoyed by C. and I for dessert. If you have vanilla ice cream at your disposal, warm these crumb bars in the microwave for a quick 30 seconds and drift off to a la mode heaven.
- 2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 block cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a pastry cutter to add the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Press half of the dough into your prepared pan.
Take the remaining dough and cut in cream cheese with a pastry cutter or fork.
In a separate bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Mix in blueberries. Spread the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Take the remaining dough and crumble over the berries.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until top is a golden (just starting to brown). Cool completely before cutting (if you can wait that long and not turn into a crazy person).