Sometimes this pie girl wants the eyes-rolled-back, mmmmmm of a pie, without some of the crust drama. And sometimes I need dessert for a crowd, and you know how pies can be awkward to divvy up in more than 8 pieces?
To the rescue this Labor Day came these Very Berry Pie Bars, which are not only amazingly delicious, but they also solve problems. And don’t we all want food that solves problems?
First, the problem of what to make for dessert for a potluck, a summer dinner, a last night at the Hollywood Bowl, or just because you want to treat your family or friends.
Second, the problem of rolling out pie crust. You don’t roll it out. ‘Nuff said.
Third, the problem of maintaining, or even elevating your reputation as a wonderful baker. These will put you into the baking hall of fame! (Is there such a thing? Now I have to go look that up…dang that Internet.)
So are you feeling like pie, but scared of rolling out the crust? Even though I am the pie lady, I get it; I really do. I had my own crust failure the other day, and it wrecked my plans. So ignore your rolling pin and make these pie bars with a sweet press-in crust. And once you make the crust dough, it also does double duty as the crumbs that go on top.
I like it with a mixture of fresh berries, but you could go with a single berry variety if you like. If fresh berries are not in season, go ahead and try this with frozen berries that you have thawed and drained very well. Or peaches! What about peaches? Or peaches and blueberries – a classic combo. If you go for peaches, add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon almond extract to the filling, as well.
Very Berry Pie Bars
Crust and crumbs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar (11 tablespoons total)
- 1/2 cup light sour cream (Daisy brand preferred; can use regular)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 (6-ounce) box fresh raspberries
- 1 (6-ounce) box fresh blackberries
- 1 (6-ounce) box fresh blueberries (together, this should be about 3 1/2-4 cups mixed berries, total)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mist a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
Make crust and crumbs: Add sugar, salt and lemon zest to bowl of electric mixer. Mix on medium speed until combined and fragrant, about 1 minute. (This infuses the sugar with some of the lemon oils.) Add flour and butter and mix on medium until crumbs form. With mixer on, dribble in almond extract. Continue mixing until crumbs get more moist and look like they might begin to clump.
Press about half the dough into the bottom of prepared pan. Place pan in hot oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes, while working on the rest of the recipe.
Meanwhile, add nutmeg to the remaining crumbs, and mix until combined. Remove crumbs to a separate bowl and set crumbs aside.
Make filling: In same mixing bowl (no need to wash it), beat eggs, sugar, sour cream and vanilla until well mixed. Add flour and stir in until combined. Gently fold in berries by hand, taking care not to mash them.
Pour berry mixture evenly over partially baked crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs and bake 60 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool about 1 hour.
Cut into 24-30 pieces.
Source: Adapted from Joy the Baker.