I am a person who loves to make lists: books to read, places to travel, beauty products to buy, grocery items to purchase. It’s so satisfying to get it all on paper and then start checking things off. So, last week when I made a to-do list of epic proportions, I had high hopes for my productivity, both professionally and personally. But did you know that to-do lists only work if you actually DO the things on them? I wish someone had told me this before I spent all that time typing goals into my iPhone.
I’m apparently also someone who, when faced with said to do lists, looks productivity directly in the eye and says, “Not today. Today I shall make Blueberry Spice Crumb Bars instead.” And so it goes.
It’s easy to understand how I boldly laughed in the face of responsibility once you see how effortlessly these bars come together, even for the baking challenged (read: me). No special equipment required, so don’t even think about dragging out that food processor. Just get out a couple of bowls, a 9×13″ baking pan, and a pastry cutter (only if you have one – if not, a couple of butter knives held together should do the trick).
In one bowl, you’ve got the makings of a warmly spiced shortbread crust and crumb topping. In the other, you have jammy blueberries sweetened with a little organic sugar and pure vanilla extract. When you combine the two, it’s the perfect marriage of summer and fall flavors – you’ve got to trust me on this one.
This recipe hails from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. If you’re gearing up for fall baking, I highly recommend you pick up a copy – I’ve made so many yummy treats from this book and the recipes always turn out spot-on.
- 3 cups spelt flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening, at room temperature (I used Earth Balance brand)
- 3 Tablespoons nondairy milk (I used organic vanilla soy milk)
- 16 oz (approximately 4 cups) fresh or frozen blueberries
- ½ cup organic sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons cold water
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×13″ ovenproof pan. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Add the shortening, little by little, by cutting it into the flour as you go with a pastry cutter or two butter knives held together. The dough should start to become crumbly – at this point, add the non dairy milk by the Tablespoon. Use clean fingers to combine the milk into the mixture after each addition, until moist pea-sized crumbs form.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the blueberries, ½ cup of sugar, cornstarch, water, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt.
- Scoop 3 cups of the dough into the prepared baking pan and firmly – and evenly – press it into the bottom to form the base of the bars. Spread the blueberry mixture over the base and then sprinkle the rest of the crumbly dough over the blueberries.
- Bake for 45 minutes. When ready, the crust should be golden brown and the blueberries nice and bubbly. Cool completely (this is very important!) before cutting into the bars and eating.