Saturday, May 16, 2015

("Skookie") Skillet Raspberry Crumb Bars

 I never tire of my scenic commute from our home in the Salinas Valley 'burbs, that eventually leads to Highway One along the coast of the Monterey Bay. Beautiful! I'm surrounded by so much agriculture, and acres and acres of Driscoll berries.  We are so spoiled and blessed with fresh product, pretty much all year round!

It's exciting to see freshly picked berries, of all kinds, on sale-- two for the price of one!  Soon, I'll be making homemade strawberry jam, olallieberry jam (berries that are indigenous only to California and Oregon).

Sometimes, a fruit crisp is an unfussy way to make a delicious dessert that showcases spring/summer berries.

This dessert was no exception in how fast this was to make, and I hope that you try it.  I adapted this recipe from "I Am Baker's" blog. Amanda uses fresh strawberries, which sounds delicious.  With the exception of Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, I much prefer to keep my fresh strawberries in their true uncooked form--like with my Fresh Strawberry Pie or Strawberry Cream Cake.  

Raspberries seemed an ideal substitute for this recipe, and they were on sale. Perfect! So, I grabbed my beloved cast-iron skillet and preheated the oven to 375F.
NOTE: Yes, you can use frozen berries, unthawed.

The dry ingredients are quite basic: butter, flour, baking powder, eggs, pure vanilla and almond extract,  and cinnamon (that I also reduced so it would be more subtle).
NOTE: Scroll down to the very end of the post for a printable recipe card.

One of my favorite tips for combining cold butter into dry ingredients is to grate it.  Try it!  It's so much easier than using  just your clean fingers-- or even a pastry cutter.  I used some non-stick spray, because the recipe said to do so (though my cast-iron skillet is so well-seasoned and maintained, that nothing sticks to it any longer).
NOTE: Yes, you can using a baking pan, or any oven-proof skillet,  instead.

Before making the dough, I had mashed the fresh berries, along with some cornstarch*, and sugar and set it aside.  I pressed half of the dough into the skillet, and then added the raspberry filling. 

*In hindsight, I wish I had used my beloved "Instant Clearjel" instead of the cornstarch.  This works so much better, because my fruit fillings bind together much better (see this recipe for proof).

With the remaining dough, I broke it up into smaller pieces and spread them evenly on top of the filling and then placed the skillet into  a 375F oven, for 25-30 minutes.  Get ready for your kitchen to smell like cinnamon, vanilla and fresh baked goodness.

Look at that bubbling berry goodness!  I let this cool, until it was room temperature (about 45 minutes).

As you can see, the filling was a bit runnier than I would have liked.  This did not detract from the flavor, though-- this is pure esthetics.  I forgot to glaze the "skookie" , too!

Now that the filling was completely cooled (a couple of hours) the berries were more firm.  Can you see that beautiful caramelized crust?  That's why I prefer using my cast-iron skillet!  

TASTING NOTES:  The crust was absolutely delicious!  It was buttery, with the perfect balance of vanilla and almond (my favorite extract).  I'm glad that I reduced the cinnamon, which added to the flavor without being overpowering.  The raspberries had just enough tartness with only a hint of sweet, and the almond-flavored glaze was the perfect sweet finish.  We loved this recipe, and the fruit combinations are endless-- peaches and raspberries, blackberries, fresh apples.  The crust is really, really good. Did I mention, that this is also quick and easy to make?  Do it!  Here's the recipe card.

Pin It


June Burns said...

I'd love to try a "skookie" sometime--this one looks fabulous! Love the use of raspberries :)

bellini said...

I like quick, I like tasty, I LOVE raspberries.

Anonymous said...

These look wonderful. I'm pinning for future use.

Bill said...

Very nice, Debby! Nothing like a buttery crust with some fruit. It's really one of my favorite desserts! I'm headed out your way in June. A drive up the coast from LA to Oregon. Can't wait to see the beautiful coast line that you get to see everyday!

Joanne said...

What I wouldn't do for those berries!! Love them. And these bars. Wish I were digging into that skillet with you!