Pumpkin Pie Bars with Oat Crumb Topping (No Butter)

by Dorothy Reinhold on December 7, 2020


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Pumpkin Pie Bars: an utterly delicious substitute that’s even easier than pumpkin pie. Half the crumb mixture is pressed into the pan to be the bottom crust, and the rest is baked on top for crumbs.

I dug this one out of the family recipe archive because this year, everything old is new again. Heritage recipes seem like old friends, right?

So I was gratified when I made this recently and shared with 2 other families, and they both said it was the best thing they had eaten in memory.

Pumpkin Pie Bars in a glass baking dish on a wooden board on ShockinglyDelicious.comI’m a huge fan of pumpkin pie, but I can see why this is so popular. It has a deeply (and appropriately) spiced custard, and a boatload of streusel crumbs on top.

From the baker’s perspective, it’s easier than pumpkin pie because you make a lot of crumbs, use half of them on the bottom as the crust, and then the rest of them on top as the streusel topping. It’s genius that way. 

Tips for making Pumpkin Pie Bars with Oat Crumb Topping

This is an easy recipe, made even simpler because you make a large amount of crumbs and deploy half of them as a bottom crust, then add pecans to the other half and use that as the crumb topping. One mixing of crumbs has two uses.

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Oat Crumble on a white plate with a fork behind the pieceAnd unlike a pie, it’s a press-in crust, so that’s a plus, too. Leave the rolling pin in the cabinet.

Instead of butter, I like to use extra light tasting olive oil (or another neutral flavored oil) for the crumbs. It gives a very clean taste, and it cuts down on saturated fats.

Cutting bars with a spatula and bars are in a glass baking dish on a wooden boardTip for crumbs on top: The recipe calls for you to parbake the crust, then pour in the filling and bake for a bit, then remove it and sprinkle on the crumb topping. Here’s my trick to get different size crumb chunks: I sprinkle some as is, and then I use my hand to clump some so there are different sized clumps on top of the bars. Just grab a handful and squeeze it, as you would damp sand, and then release it onto the top of the bars. You’ll see some big chunks, medium chunks and regular “sand.” That’s what you want! Keep doing that until you’ve used up all the crumb topping.

Glass baking dish full of Pumpkin Pie Bars with Oat Crumble Topping on ShockinglyDelicious.comSee the chunky crumbs in the photo above? There you go!

All right…are you ready to bake? Let’s go!

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Oat Crumb Topping

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 12

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Oat Crumb Topping

Pumpkin Pie Bars is an utterly delicious substitute for pumpkin pie that's even easier because half the crumb mixture is pressed into the pan to be the bottom crust, and the rest is baked on top for crumbs.

Ingredients

  • Crumbs:
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed into the measuring cup)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 9 tablespoons extra light flavored olive oil
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • Filling
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) half and half

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350F degrees. Lightly mist an 11x7-inch baking dish with nonstick spray, and set dish aside.
  2. Make crumbs: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, oats, salt, baking soda, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon and mix well. (I do this in a stand mixer, but you can do it by hand if you like.) While the mixer is running on low, slowly stream in vanilla and olive oil, mixing until crumbs form, about 30-60 seconds. It will look like damp sand. Remove half of the crumbs and put them in the prepared baking dish, pressing down lightly to form a bottom crust. Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. To the remaining crumbs in the bowl, add the chopped pecans, and set this aside. This will be the crumb topping.
  4. Make the filling: While the bottom crust bakes, make the filling by adding egg, sugar and spice blend and mixing well. Again, I do this in a stand mixer, but you can do it by hand if you like. Add pumpkin and half and half and mix on low until well combined, about 1 minute.
  5. When bottom crust has baked for 15 minutes, remove dish from oven, pour filling over partially baked crust, and return to the oven for 15 minutes.
  6. When timer rings, remove dish from the oven and sprinkle the reserved nutty crumbs on top. I sprinkle some as is, and then I use my hand to clump some so there are different sized clumps on top of the bars. Just grab a handful and squeeze it, as you would damp sand, and then release it onto the top of the bars. Return dish to the oven for 30 minutes, until some peaks on the crumbs are browning and the center is set. Give it a little shake to see if it is set when you are ready to take it out. If it jiggles like Jell-O, leave it in for another 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and cool for at least 1-2 hours. To me, it tastes best served at room temperature, or slightly chilled. To save, store it covered in the refrigerator.
  8. Serve plain, or with a dollop of whipped cream on top, as you would pumpkin pie.
  9. Makes 12 servings. It is very rich, so small-ish pieces satisfy.

Notes

Recipe source: Reinhold family archives. Dorothy Reinhold | Shockingly Delicious.

https://www.shockinglydelicious.com/pumpkin-pie-bars-with-oat-crumb-topping/

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Photo collage of Pumpkin Pie Bars Recipe on ShockinglyDelicious.com

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