bake this now: blueberry bars

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Years ago I remember standing in the middle of a park, voice all choked up, asking a friend about pain containers. I have so much pain I don’t know where to put it. Where does one put pain? Where does one tuck it away?. And my friend sighed and said that I was a woman who was impenetrable; I held the world and everyone in it at a safe remove. It was easy to live this way, surrounding myself with people who rarely challenged me, people to whom I refused trespass to the in of me. The ticking is the bomb. The ticking is the bomb. That day, years ago, I remembered scrolling through dozens of numbers programmed into my cellular phone and feeling crippled that I could dial none of them.

Back then I was a woman on the verge. I was a landmine; I could blow at any minute. My friend told me this: you have to let people in. All the way in.

For some reason I remembered this today as I was baking blueberry bars. Strange to recall a former version of myself while a friend is over taking measurements of my apartment while I busied myself with measuring cups and a stand mixer. Strange to flash back to an older apartment, a bubbling blueberry crumble cooling by the window and the friend I had let in, all the way in, seated at my kitchen table.

It was a virtuous crumble, made with toasted oats and greek yoghurt — tart and sweet and tangy all at once. We dove our forks in and feasted and giggled like children. I imagined this is what having a sister must be like. We created a world around us, we had our own vernacular and inside jokes. We were high drama. We traded books like playing cards and pontificated on pandas, clowns and Smurfs.

We lived in this carefully created fiction for seven years and then suddenly we had fallen to blight. Our sentences were stilted and we clung desperately to old memories, frightened to admit that we had outgrown one another. Who would say it first? Who would admit that we no longer needed one another? Who would cleave through the awkward silences with the truth. The here and the now. We had become ill-fitting clothing. We had shed one another and couldn’t confess it. The ticking is the bomb.

That was two years ago.

And although I’ve had closure with losing her, our friendship — the largeness and beauty of it — comes back in waves.

Inspired by Sugarcrafter’s Blueberry Bar recipe, I decided to create something entirely new. Instead of white flour, I combined almond and whole wheat flours, which yielded a more complex, nuttier bar. The infusion of coconut and flaxseed is unexpected, and while these bars aren’t one note and devilishly sweet, they offer a juxtaposition of texture and flavor. If you’re seeking a deviation from the unexpected and are craving blueberry treats, I urge you to sample these yummy treats.

INGREDIENTS: Inspired by Sugarcrafter’s Blueberry Bar recipe with modifications.
For the filling:
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup cane sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tsp cornstarch
Juice of 1/2 lime

For the dough:
1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp coconut extract
2 cups flour: 1 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour; 1/2 cup almond flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp flaxseed
1 tsp Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9″ baking dish. Crush the blueberries and then pour them into a medium bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, cornstarch, and ginger. Stir the sugar mixture and lemon juice into the blueberries.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and coconut. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients half at a time until crumbly. Press 2/3 of the dough into the pan, reserving the remaining third. Bake the crust about 10 minutes or until very lightly browned.

Pour the blueberry filling on to the hot crust, and then sprinkle the remaining dough over the top. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the crumb topping turns golden brown. Cool before serving.

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