Recipe: blackberry and pear crumble bars

So you might be aware that we’ve got a pear tree in our garden. I’ve posted about it often enough, as I love to track it’s progress through the year from flowers to fruit. Every autumn I rack my brains for things to make to use up all of it’s ample supplies but never get anywhere near using everything for sheer lack of time and options, which is something that I’m hopeful of addressing a little bit this year. In the past I’ve stewed pears and made them into soft caramels with lots of butter and cream and also fed them to locally milled flour to make a sourdough culture, but this year I feel like doing something a little bit more instantly gratifying 🙂

Eddie Izzard said of pears ‘they are gorgeous little beasts…but they’re either a rock or they are mush’. How right he is, which is why this recipe, my friends, is a total keeper. In the time it takes to cook the crumble topping and biscuit bottom to crunchy golden perfection, the inside pear and blackberry layer is gently stewed to foolproof softness. They the right amount of crunch and stodge, which is a seasonal must at the moment as we all need that little bit more protection against the brisk elements, and they are both delicious either warm or cold. These bars are truly soul nourishing food.

Eager beavers might notice the new (to me) plate, which is by Marimekko and the patten is Kurjenpolvi.

Blackberry and pear crumble bars – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 230g butter
  • 300g white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • A pinch of salt
  • A teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 200g blackberries
  • 3 medium un-ripe pears
  • 4 teaspoons of cornflour
  • A tablespoon of vanilla sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 185 degrees centigrade.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, 200g of the sugar and pinch of salt.

Chop the butter into smallish pieces and rub it in as though making a crumble. Add the egg and continue to work the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Decant half of the mix into a buttered large baking tin (ideally around 23cm x 33cm) and press down firmly to make the biscuit layer.

Peel the pears and roughly chop them into 1cm square size pieces, or thereabouts. Toss them into a bowl and add the blackberries, along with 100g of sugar, the vanilla sugar (or extract if you don’t have sugar), cornflour, and cinnamon. Stir well to coat all of the fruit and then distribute it on top of the pressed down biscuit.

Top with the rest of the reserved crumble, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Rotate the pan half way through to make sure that the topping browns evenly.

Enjoy warm from the oven with a little lick of double cream or wait until cold and chop into square biscuit bars.

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