Raspberry crumble bars with oats, brown sugar and fresh berries are a sweet snack, even though the sugar amount has been severely cut down from the original recipe that inspired me.
Not my idea of breakfast
The recipe for, as it was, raspberry crumb breakfast bars comes from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, a book by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. I found it via Smitten Kitchen where it featured as raspberry breakfast bars.
I say, Matt, Renato and Deb: your idea of breakfast is pretty terrifying.
Although to be fair, both Matt and Deb admit the word ‘breakfast’ is bandied rather freely there. Why use it then? Just as a clickbait?
I’m afraid so. Because the bars are SO sweet, I’d struggle to have them for dessert, even though I have pretty sweet tooth.
If this is breakfast, it’s probably meant for the kind of people who sprinkle sugar over their Kellogg’s Frosties at breakfast time.
Bars should be handheld
Next problem was the crust.
Matt claims the bars have thin and crisp crust; Deb compares them to sandwich cookies.
Having tested it, I begged to differ: the end product was really soggy. It was difficult to grab one of those freshly cut, and they got soggier and soggier as they were standing.
That was with fresh raspberries: perish the thought of using frozen ones as both sets of authors suggest.
The good things now: they are tasty.
But really only after my modifications which involved seriously cutting down sugar content and eliminating the baking powder and soda bicarbonate from the pastry mix. The point of putting them in a crust mix defies my understanding.
And I’ve ditched the ‘breakfast’ from the title. No way shall I put my name under a recipe with 13g of added sugar in a single, small portion – almost twice as much as an average, blatantly overly sweet cereal bar from a supermarket.
All in all, a reasonable product: with the sugar severely reduced they are still VERY sweet.
And you definitely can’t put them in a lunch box or take on a picnic unless you want to retrieve a mass of soggy crumbs.
How to make the raspberry bars
It’s easy – but food processor, which both of my esteemed colleagues suggest, doesn’t work quite as well as a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or, actually, your hands. After my first attempt I had dots of lumped up brown sugar clearly visible in the pastry base.
A very good side of the recipe is that the pastry mix is just loose crumbs and there is no need for chilling or rolling out. All you do it pour it into the tin and press down into all the corners and the bottom to create a pastry layer. It needs brief blind baking but without beans, parchment and all that palaver.
The filling is lovely (once half the sugar amount is discarded), with a lemony flavour, a little flour to keep the fruit from running too much juice (it runs enough anyway) and a little butter to stop it soaking into the base.
The crumble on top of the filling is the remaining base crumb, which is always a nifty idea.
Baking takes just over half an hour and the cooling best overnight if you want to cut the bars reasonably neatly instead of just eating it all off the tray with a spoon.
And they don’t keep – so baking a smaller portion just for one serving might be a prudent idea.
But I should not begrudge the authors those couple of flaws because their recipe inspired me to take the challenge and devise my own bar or slice recipe with fresh fruit.
Like, for instance, plum crumble bars: not too sweet, not too soggy, hand-holdable and just perfect.
More breakfast bar recipes
Healthy homemade cereal bars made with oats and plenty of dried fruit and seeds. Cereal bars or granola bars? Either way they are much better than shop-bought bars.
Rice flake breakfast bars lightly sweetened with maple syrup and apricot jam topping: a healthy option with lots of fibre from poha, dry rice flakes.
Orange and ginger flavoured flapjack, soft and chewy, buttery and slightly sticky. Make it plain as it is, or add a handful of dried fruit or coconut flakes.
More raspberry recipes
Raspberry and almond slice, a gorgeous buttery traybake with flaked almond, sugar and butter topping: it’s easier to make and tastier than a Bakewell!
No churn raspberry ripple ice cream, based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe: stupidly easy, and amazingly effective. Two ingredients plus raspberry puree equals ice cream made in ten minutes.
Raspberry sponge cake recipe, with fresh berries scattered on top of light and airy cake batter. Dust with icing sugar for a perfect summer dessert.