Daily Archives: 10 October 2012

Jar: Half-Empty or Half Full?

My refrigerator always seems to have an assortment of jars of jam that were opened, started with enthusiasm, but then forgotten. I like jam on pancakes and scones, but those are special morning breakfasts. My usual breakfast is toast with sliced cheese, no jam. Consequently, these jars tend to languish at the back of shelf.

Jam, once opened, lasts a really long time, but, eventually, something needs to be done with it. If pancakes and scones aren’t on the immediate horizon, what can be done?

The solution presented itself. I volunteered to bring refreshments to my monthly garden club meeting. The Lexington Field & Garden Club, founded in 1876, is the oldest federated garden club in the country. They offer monthly programs about various aspects of horticulture, flower arranging (not my thing), and garden history. This month’s program, the one annual evening meeting, was about pruning trees. I learned quite a bit about the proper way to prune young and mature trees, and how not to. Mostly, I was convinced that pruning trees is best left to professionals.

So, as I said, I volunteered to bring a few dozen cookies, and had half-empty, or is it half-full, jam jars on my mind. I am partial to bar cookies because they don’t involve a lot of fussing. You fill up the pan with sugary goodness, and, once baked, assuming the cookie slab slides out of the pan, all you have to do is cut it into bars. Jam Bars seemed to be the perfect thing.

You mix up a simple dough, and divide it, about one third, two thirds. The larger portion is pressed into the bottom of the pan. Then you spread the dough with jam. I used two different flavors, apricot-ginger on one side and rhubarb-raspberry on the other side. Finally, you mix some oatmeal into the remaining dough and crumble it over the top. Into the oven it goes, and out come the jewel-toned bars!

The plate was empty before the meeting started, and there are two less jars in my fridge! I’d consider this a success.

Jam Bars

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1½ cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon (or another spice to match your jam flavor)
¼ tsp salt
¾ to 1 cup jam or preserves, any flavor (or use multiple flavors)
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In the food processor, cream the butter with both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg, and process until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, and process again until smooth.

Divide the dough, taking about ¾ cup (about one third of the dough) and setting it aside. Press the remaining dough into an 11×7-inch baking pan. Spread jam over the dough. Now, mix the oats into the reserved dough. With your fingers, crumble it over the top of the jam-spread dough. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the crumble is lightly browned. Let it cool. Turn slab out of the pan onto a cutting board and cut into squares. I cut mine into just less than 2-inch squares, yielding 2 dozen bars.