Strawberry Oatmeal Bars


Four years ago today, by a dazzling combination of good fortune, mutual sacrifice, and temporary insanity (on his part), I duped a cute guy into marrying me. Thus far, our lives together have involved a healthy dose of all three, though I’ll take responsibility for more than 50% of the insanity. We’re celebrating our anniversary with two special guests: a pan of Strawberry Oatmeal Bars and…my mother.

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE STRAWBERRY BARS:

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats (gluten free if needed)
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or substitute all purpose flour or 1:1 baking flour to make gluten free)
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (or substitute melted coconut oil to make vegan/dairy-free)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1/2 small lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 cups, small-diced strawberries (10 ounces)

FOR THE VANILLA GLAZE (OPTIONAL BUT DELICIOUS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU PREFER A SWEETER BAR):

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk (any kind you like
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place a rack in the center of your oven and heat to 375 degrees F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper overhangs two sides like "handles."
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, 3/4 cup flour, brown sugar, ginger, and salt. Pour in the melted butter and stir until it forms clumps and the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Set aside 1/2 cup of the crumble mixture, then press the rest into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Scatter half of the strawberries over the crust. Sprinkle the cornstarch evenly over the top, then sprinkle on the lemon juice, and 1/2 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. Scatter on the remaining berries, then the remaining 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs evenly over the top. You will have some fruit showing through.
  4. Bake the bars for 35 to 40 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the crumb topping smells toasty and looks golden. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely (you can speed this process along in the refrigerator).
  5. While the bars cool, prepare the glaze: in a medium bowl, briskly whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth. Feel free to add more milk if a thinner consistency is desired. Using the parchment paper handles, lift the bars from the pan. Drizzle with glaze, slice, and serve.