I often mentioned my addiction to u-pick farms last summer. I have been in therapy this year, but no progress yet on my deep-rooted need to get into a field or orchard and pick all of the things and then eat them. Only time shall tell, but in the meantime I succumbed to the siren song of my people; I follow several u-pick farms on Facebook and one of them announced they were opening the strawberry fields last Friday, with a second farm to follow this coming Friday. I excitedly suggested an outing to Sauvie Island to M, and he was likewise overcome with the desire for All Things Strawberry.
So to Kruger's Farm we went and pick strawberries we did, so many that he and I baked the above strawberry rhubarb bars (he called them straw-rhu-bars), and I showed him how to make cream puffs with fresh whipped cream and strawberries, and we made a strawberry-mango salsa, and still he eyed his nearly full flat of berries and said, "I don't know why I picked so many, it was just addicting!" See what I mean?
This recipe is lightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen. M and I baked them at the same time so we could directly compare my brown-butter-crust and more fruit filling version to the original. They're both good, and the interesting thing is that some of M's friends thought the original (he called it Brand X) tasted more fruity even though my batch (Brand Y) actually included more fruit. I love the nuttiness that brown butter adds to the crust, and think it serves as a bolder contrast to the sweet-tart fruit. But, why don't you try both recipes and decide for yourself?
As always, I encourage you to weigh your ingredients with a kitchen scale to ensure accuracy. I weighed out the 110 g of flour and my crust held together perfectly without being too wet or too dry, but if you measure by volume your results might vary.
Makes 16 servings
1 cup (80g) old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (110g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (95g) light brown sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
8 Tbsp (113g) unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 1/4 cup (155g) small-diced rhubarb (from about 2 medium stalks)
1 1/4 cup (185g) small-diced strawberries
1 1/4 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15g) granulated sugar, divided
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper (I fold the paper to the size of the pan and then cut at the creases so I can fold the excess paper down. You could just spray the pan with non-stick spray instead of using parchment, but I found it was easier to remove the bars from the pan when I baked on parchment paper.)
3. Brown the butter thusly: Cut the butter into cubes, add to a small stainless-steel saucepan, and melt over medium heat. Cook until the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan and have turned golden brown. It will smell really nutty and awesome. Please use a stainless steel pan so you can see when the butter starts to brown; I once tried to brown butter in a non-stick dark-bottomed pan, and because I couldn't tell what color the butter was in contrast to the color of the pan, I ended up with burnt, sad butter and had to start over in a different (stainless-steel) pan. Lesson learned!
4. Once the butter solids have browned, immediately remove the pan from the heat and scrape all of the butter (including the tasty brown butter bits off the bottom of the pan) into a measuring cup; it should make just over 1/2 cup of brown butter. Let cool for 10 minutes or so, until it's not too hot to work with.
5. In the meantime, in a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt until combined. Pour in the brown butter and mix until the butter is evenly incorporated and the mixture starts to clump together. Reserve a half a cup of this mixture to top the bars, then press the remaining amount into the bottom of the lined 8x8 pan to form the bottom crust.
6. Sprinkle the crust with half of the strawberries and rhubarb, then the 1 1/4 tsp corn starch and 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 Tbsp of the granulated sugar. Sprinkle on the remaining strawberries and rhubarb and the other 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar. Top with the reserved 1/2 cup of crust crumbles.
7. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, until the top crust is golden brown and the fruit is soft and bubbling. Cool in the pan before removing the parchment. Cut into 16 squares.