Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars, Fruit Oatmeal Bars, Oatmeal Crumb Bars, Rhubarb Desserts
Update: 5/20/20
After 7 years, this post has been updated with new photos, but the original recipe remains the same.

When I saw the fresh, bright red rhubarb stalks in our grocery store, I had to buy some.  I'm always picking up ingredients without necessarily having a plan for what I'll make with them, but inevitably something will come to me.  And it's not hard to think of ways to bake with rhubarb since it lends itself so nicely to fruit crumbles, loaf bread and even ice cream.

I thought of the oatmeal fruit bars my mom used to make when I was a kid.  It was one of her go-to desserts to take to potlucks, and I loved the buttery layers of oatmeal cookie-like crust and topping, sandwiching a sweet, jammy fruit filling.  Especially blueberry pie filling.

So after the rhubarb sat in the fridge for a few days, I pulled out the flour, brown sugar and oats, butter, salt and cinnamon, and made a crumbly dough for cookie bars.  One of the things I love about this type of cookie bar is that the dough serves a dual purpose, both for the crust and the crumb topping.  I think every day should have a little crumb topping, because it just makes everything better.

Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars, Fruit Oatmeal Bars, Oatmeal Crumb Bars, Rhubarb Desserts

Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars, Fruit Oatmeal Bars, Oatmeal Crumb Bars, Rhubarb Desserts

I tossed the rhubarb with brown sugar, lemon juice and vanilla, with a little strawberry jam to bring it all together and some flour to thicken it.  Other jams would be nice with the rhubarb, too...  maybe apricot or peach?

When I took the bars out of the oven, the filling was hot and bubbly and so very fragrant.  With Jamie asking me, "Are they ready yet?" and, "Can we just skip dinner and eat dessert?" it was hard to wait for them to cool before cutting into them for a taste.  We ate a piece with cool vanilla ice cream that night...

Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars, Fruit Oatmeal Bars, Oatmeal Crumb Bars, Rhubarb Desserts

Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars, Fruit Oatmeal Bars, Oatmeal Crumb Bars, Rhubarb Desserts

A note about rhubarb...
The color of the stalks will greatly affect the color of your baked goods.  I have baked with vividly bright red stalks from the grocery store that make a very pretty red rhubarb filling.  We now have a few rhubarb plants in our garden, and the stalks are a combination of green and red.  The jams and cakes (and the filling in these bars) baked from my own rhubarb is not quite such a vibrant color.  Delicious, either way.

Please note that the leaves of rhubarb are toxic, and should be discarded.

Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

Crust and Topping.
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 12 ounces rhubarb (about 2 1/2 cups diced), diced fairly small, about 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Crust and Topping.
Preheat the oven to 375.  Spray a square 8x8 baking dish with non-stick spray.  (You could also make a thinner bar by baking these in a 9x13 pan - the baking time may also need to be lessened since thinner bars would bake more quickly.)

In your food processor, or with a pastry cutter, combine the crust/topping ingredients until pea-sized pieces of butter remain.  Reserve 1 ½ cups of the crumbs for the topping (chill in the refrigerator until needed), and press the remainder of the crumbs firmly against the bottom of the baking dish.  Bake crust for 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a bowl toss the rhubarb with the baking soda, sugar and flour until all the fruit is coated.  Stir in the jam, lemon juice and vanilla.

After the crust has baked for 20 minutes, remove from the oven.  Reduce oven temperature to 350.  Spread the rhubarb mixture over the hot crust.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the fruit and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until topping is golden brown.

Let cool on the counter for at least two hours to set before slicing into squares.  These can be served slightly warm or room temperature, and are wonderful with ice cream.  These are best eaten within 1-2 days.

Yields 16 squares.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen