These crumbly, fruit-filled bars are from an old King Arthur Flour cookbook recipe that isn’t currently posted on their website, which is a shame because this is a tasty, easy dessert that allows for a lot of creativity on the part of the cook. And by creativity I mean that if you’re out of dates, raisins will work just fine. Actually, any combination of any dried fruit will be delicious. Substitute granola for oatmeal, water for orange juice, whole wheat for white flour; it’s all good. I’ve been making these bars for 30 years now (never the same way twice) and we’ve enjoyed all the variations.
Edinburgh Tea Squares Recipe originally from the King Arthur Flour Co.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Make the filling: Combine 1 1/2 C dried fruit, 1 C water or orange juice, a pinch of salt and 1 tsp lemon rind in a medium saucepan. Mix another 2 Tbs of cold water/juice and 2 Tbs cornstarch in a cup and reserve. Cook the first mixture until the fruit is soft and fragrant – about 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture, stir and cook until slightly thickened, about a minute. Remove pan from stove and allow to cool a little bit while you make the dough.
The original recipe calls for dates, but we’ve experimented with currants, dried apples, dried blueberries and whatever was on the shelf. So far I haven’t found anything that doesn’t taste good in this simple fruit filling. Subbing out the juice is a nice change, too: apple juice with raisins, lemonade with dried cranberries, peach nectar with dried mangoes, etc.
For the dough: combine 1 1/2 C flour, 1 C brown sugar, 1 C oatmeal, 1/2 C unsalted butter, 1 tsp salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse sand. You can use whole wheat or white flour and just about anything goes for the oatmeal: quick or old fashioned oats, granola, and on one memorable occasion, corn flakes. If you use commercial cereal you may want to cut back on the salt.
Pat half the mixture in a lightly greased 9″ square pan. Reserve the rest for the topping.Bake just this bottom layer for 10 minutes while the filling cools a little bit.
Remove from oven but don’t turn it off. Layer the fruit filling over the partially baked crust and then sprinkle the remaining dough mixture on top. Don’t press it down. Put the bars back in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the filling bubbles around the edges.
The original recipe needs to be carefully divided – too much in the bottom and the top will be quite skimpy; too little on the bottom and the filling leaks out. I upped the dry quantities and added baking time for just the lower crust, so the division isn’t quite so critical. The top layer starts out fairly loose and crumbly but firms up and is better for lunch boxes after a day or two.
I’ve made a lot of changes to this recipe – you should, too!