It’s hot out. Really, really hot. Steam up the windows hot. You’re not gonna hear me complain for a second. I love all this hot weather – it’s exponentially better than winter. I relish a long walk or even just driving around town in the sunshine. It should be like this all year. I know a lot of people can’t stand the thought of turning on their oven when the mercury rises. It sounds like torture. They’d rather grill, use the microwave or stovetop, or keep things cool by eating raw fruits and vegetables.
I’ve been loving no bake recipes lately too. It’s nice not to heat up the house, not to mention having a tasty treat ready to eat in no time flat. And ice cream is amazing, plus, once it’s churned, it’s a chilly treat sure to beat the heat. There’s no doubt heat waves mean eating differently – no soups or stews, more fresh fruit and vegetables. I’m totally on board with that.
But nothing comes between my oven and me. That’s right, even when it’s ninety out, my oven is on pretty much every day, sometimes for hours at a time. I can’t give up roasted garlic, vegetables, and fish. I just can’t do it. And while all the no bake treats, full of peanut butter, and creamy ice cream are amazing, the abundance of summer fruits calls to me, wanting to be turned into a baked good. Pie, cake, bars – it doesn’t matter. So, I turn down the air and enjoy baking, not even noticing the heat.
Sour cherries are like finding a prize at the farmers’ market. I was lucky enough to pick some up last weekend. They are too tart to eat raw, I didn’t even venture a taste, but when hit with some sugar and baked into a treat, these tiny beauties let their sweet-tart, pure cherry flavor shine.
I baked them into Sour Cherry Crumb Bars. The filling is pretty much pure cherry goodness, while the crust and topping are hearty with lots of oatmeal. I thought the topping would get a little crunchier, have a little more texture, but I don’t think it’s supposed to. Instead, it blends into the filling with texture coming from the crust. A great breakfast, snack, or dessert, forget about the heat wave and make these bars!
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1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 ¼ cups old fashioned rolled oats
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cold and cubed
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups sour cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan, line it with parchment, leaving an overhang, and butter the parchment.
Make the crust. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add the butter and blend it in with a pastry cutter or your fingers until it is pretty well combined and forms clumps.
Reserve 1 ½ cups of the crust mixture. Pour the rest of it in the prepared pan and press it in firmly with your hands, covering the entire bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool while you prepare the filling.
Make the filling. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, flour, cherries, and butter. Spoon onto the crust. If the mixture is very juicy, do not put all the juice on the crust or it will become soggy. Sprinkle with the reserved crust mixture. Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the filling is bubbling and the topping golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Bars may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil, and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for a couple hours or in a 350 degree F oven for about 15 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Baked New Frontiers in Baking