As much as I love creating and discovering new and exciting recipes, I also have some old favourites that just speak to me. Jamjacks (or Crunchy Oat Slices as they are called here on the blog) are from back in the early days of the blog and comprised a crumbly, crunchy oaty flapjack/shortbread mix up.
The combination of buttery oats, with a subtle lick of salt and then the burst of the bright, smooth and sharp seedless raspberry jam running through the middle is a flavourful delight, perfect for enjoying wth a hot beverage in front of a glowing fire.
And therein lies the problem, if you will. Because I really enjoy the crunchy, oaty, salty sweetness, but as is, it is a very wintry biscuit bar. And here we are, on the cusp of glorious summer and I’m not in the mood for a wintry Jamjack.
So I decided to tweak the original recipe to incorporate some of the delicious fresh fruit available right now.
The main issue with incorporating fresh fruit into any bake is the juice. Cutting fruit releases juice. Heating fruit releases juice. Mixing sugar with fruit releases juice. And unchecked, juice is the enemy of crispy bakes. Luckily, there is an easy solution that can be applied to whatever fresh fruit you fancy or have to hand. Toss your fruit in cornflour (if sweet) or a mixture of cornflour and icing sugar if your fruit is slightly underripe or on the sharp side. As the fruit bakes, the juice is released and immediately absorbed by the cornflour, which thickens and sets it as it cools around the fruit in a delicious gel.
As mentioned above, this trick can be applied in any situation where excess juice might compromise the crispness of a biscuit/pie/tart or other bake.
As to the oat slice part, I’ve slightly increased the volume and tweaked the proportions a little: reduced the sugar, because the fruit added more than enough sweetness, and increased the butter in order to give a firmer base and topping.
Stone fruit such as plums, apricots, nectarines, peaches and cherries are good at the moment. I’ve also used apples, with and without other fruit, and also combined different fruits together (I highly recommend apricot and peach). Although I haven’t tried it yet (however delicious, there are only so many batches of Summer Crumble Bars one can wade through in a week, even when sending multiple batches to ones husband’s office. And also, I’m currently out of oats), I am confident this recipe would also work nicely with those bags of frozen berries we all buy whilst lying to ourselves that we’re going to eat healthier and breakfast every day on smoothies, then abandon in the depths of the freezer. *lying* Not that I’ve ever done that.
Summer Crumble Bars
Substitute gluten-free oats and flour if you need to. I find Dove’s Farm gluten-free flour can be used 1:1 with no need for any further adjustments, and the sides of the tin help contain the bake from spreading.
100g soft brown sugar
180g wholemeal flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
180g rolled oats
fruit of choice – Whatever takes your fancy! I can recommend any of the following though:
- 3 Bramley apples, peeled, cored, chopped, tossed in 2tbs cornflour + 2tbs icing sugar
- 2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored, chopped, + 200g stoned cherries, tossed in 2tbs cornflour + 2tbs icing sugar
- 4 peaches + 200g stoned cherries, tossed in 2tbs cornflour
- 4 peaches + 8 apricots, destoned & chopped, tossed in 2tbs cornflour
- 400g plums, stoned & tossed in 2tbs cornflour + 2-3tbs icing sugar
- 300g strawberries + 200g rhubarb, chopped & tossed in 2tbs cornflour + 2tbs icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
- Grease a 20-24cm square cake or slice tin, and line with baking parchment.
- Put all the ingredients except the oats and the fruit into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the butter is incorporated and the mixture looks like rough breadcrumbs. Add the oats and pulse once or twice just to break them up slightly – you want to keep some texture in there.
- Press half of the mixture (by weight) into the bottom of the prepared cake tin.
- Use a smooth-bottomed tumbler or jar to press the mixture firmly into the tin.
- Bake for 15 minutes until just starting to brown.
- Set aside to cool as you prepare the fruit.
- Prepare your fruit & toss in cornflour and icing sugar if using.
- Spread the prepared fruit evenly over the partly-cooked base.
- Sprinkle over the remaining oat mixture and spread evenly. Press down firmly.
- Bake for 40 minutes, turning the tin around after 20 minutes to ensure even baking.
- Allow to cool.
- Once cooled, chill in the fridge for several hours, or overnight. This firms up the bake so that cutting it neatly becomes much easier. Cut into neat squares or bars. For this size pan, 16 squares is a generous portion.
- Store in an airtight container.