Juicy Fruit for the Win: Bravetart Jammy Fruit Bars

I still had quite a few Sugar Giant white peaches left after baking a Lattice-Top Peach Pie, so I decided to use some of them in Stella Parks' Jammy Fruit Bars. The same oatmeal-brown sugar mixture does double duty as both the crust and the streusel topping, which surround a layer of jam or fresh fruit. While Stella says that you can use a variety of fruits in the bars, she recommends sticking with "soft and juicy" ones, such as pitted cherries, peeled and diced peaches, blueberries, raspberries, or sliced strawberries.

The recipe is written to be baked in an 8-inch square pan but I doubled it and baked it in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan. You make the dough by hand, by working cubed cold butter into the dry ingredients (old-fashioned rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon) and stirring in a cold egg. You take about two-thirds of the mixture and gently press it into a parchment-lined pan to form the crust. I added peeled, diced peaches, which I seasoned with salt and fresh lemon juice before sprinkling the remaining streusel on top and putting the bars in the oven to bake.
I waited until the bars were completely cooled before removing them from the pan and slicing them. These bars were outstanding. The crust was sturdy and not soggy, even though the fruit layer was generous and peaches remained juicy after baking. I loved the heartiness of the oats and the warm cinnamon flavor. Most of all, the peaches tasted fantastic in these bars. I think there are a couple of reasons why the Sugar Giant peaches worked out better in these bars than they did in my lattice-top peach pie. First, in a peach pie obviously all of the focus it on the peaches themselves, since there isn't much else there to distract from the quality of the fruit. But whatever fruit or jam you use in these bars doesn't need to carry the entire bar, because the crust and streusel are delicious on their own and do a lot of the heavy lifting.

Second, I think that the sprinkling of lemon juice and salt on the peaches really helped bring out the fruit's flavor. I followed Stella's advice to use a heavy hand with the salt since the peaches were so sweet and mild. But Stella points out that "in virtually all instances a bit of lemon and salt will improve the fruit flavor considerably." If you make these bars with jam instead of fresh fruit, she even recommends seasoning the jam with with lemon juice and salt. I love that these bars are so versatile and am looking forward to trying them with jams and different types of fruit!

Recipe: "Jammy Fruit Bars" by Stella Parks, recipe available here at Serious Eats.


Sally said…
look so good! Do you think you need the whole 6 oz of butter, or could I use less? I just find it annoying to use more than a stick of butter! Thanks!
I'm not sure if you could cut the butter back to just one stick -- you do have to make sure that the dough will be the correct consistency both to be pressed into the pan as a crust and scattered on top as a crumble. Plus, I generally try not to make alterations to Stella's recipes because I know she puts so much work into developing and testing them. But you could always give it a try and see what happens!