This Cherry Shortbread Oats Crumb Bars was absolutely perfect in every way possible. The shortbread crust was creamy and buttery with a nice texture from oats, the filling uses a simple homemade Cherry Fruit Filling with just the right sweet and tart taste, plus more fresh Cherry for a nice chunky pieces. This is one real Summer treat that you MUST have in your baking to do list.
From the time that I started baking until just few month back, I NEVER paid attention to any desserts with Cherry. I know it was because when I was a kid, I used to associate Cherry to the taste of cough syrup. It was a horrible taste for me. I guess that was because I had been exposed mostly to bottled or preserved Cherry, because we do not have fresh Cherry in the Philippines. But to be fair, some bottled Cherry are not that bad, but they just sweet nothing else, it tasted so commercial and artificial.
I never appreciated the taste of real fresh Cherry until I moved here to Canada. From the time I had been exposed to fresh Cherry, I get excited from just the sight of seeing it in the market. When it starts to show up, it is really Summer time. They do not last long though, so making the most of it is what I do. I buy them almost every week, especially when they are at the peak of the season, they are so cheap it is basically buy 1 take 1 pack. I have them for snacking, for my smoothie, I make them into jam and I used them for baking. There is nothing like using fresh fruits for baking, definitely better than preserved.
This is just one of my many shortbread oat crumbs variation. If you are subscribed to my website, you probably saw the other variations that I had posted before, the Strawberry, Blueberry, Pineapple, Apricot, Apple and Peach. This recipe is just a variation of those, the base crust is the same. The only difference is that this uses Cherry filling. This is how versatile it is, you can use other jam and fruit filling that you like. Let me show you how I made this.
How to Make Shortbread Oat Crust
Making this crumb bar is a two parts process. First is the making of the crust which in this case is a shortbread oats crust. This is just like making a shortbread dough, the only difference is that we are adding a small amount of rolled oats for added texture. The main ingredients are all-purpose flour, oats, sugar and butter. Simply process all the ingredients for the crust (except the rolled oats) in a food processor, then add the rolled oats at the end then pulse 3- 4 times. We are adding the rolled oats last so that we can retain some of the texture of the oats.
How Do You Make Cherry Sauce?
Very simple. I have a separate post Homemade Cherry Sauce which contain a more detailed discussion. Basically, this is as easy as simmering the Cherry with sugar and cornstarch until it gets soft and thick. The sauce gets thicker as it cools and even better a day after making it. You can easily adjust the sweetness to your preference, I suggest taste the Cherry before cooking it so that You can determine if You will need to add more sugar or not. In season ripe sweet Cherry are the best one to use.
When using Cherry Sauce as filling for crumb bar, it is VERY important to remove the excess juice or sauce. You can simply do this by passing it to a strainer. You can leave it overnight to drain or let it sit about 1 hour (inside the fridge) to drain. Alternatively, if You are making the Cherry Sauce just for the purpose of using it as filling for crumb bar, You can just simmer it longer to reduce the sauce. That would remove the extra step of draining the excess liquid. In my case, I prefer making it in a sauce consistency so that I can use it as topping for ice cream and sundae, for oatmeal, for chia seed.
Can I Use Store-Bought Cherry Preserve or Pie Filling?
Yes you can, but if you can get your hands on fresh Cherry, I encourage you to make the Cherry filling, it’s super easy to make and you can adjusts the sweetener level to your preference. Plus you can make more and use it for your breakfast toast or for pie filling or as topping for ice cream, sundae, oatmeal and chia seed pudding. There is so many ways to use it, so do not worry about leftover. Give it a go, you won’t regret it. Fresh is always better, that’s what Summer is all about, using fresh fruits while you can.
Can I Make Cherry Shortbread Oats Crumb Bar Ahead of Time?
You’ll be happy to hear that the answer is Yes 🙂 In fact I prefer making this a day ahead to give the crust the time to get chilled. Not only that you get a clean cut and you avoid the bars for falling apart, it also makes the crust properly chilled. Bake and let it cool completely then wrap in a aluminum foil then put it in a ziplock bag then refrigerate overnight. Now, if you cannot wait that long, I can’t blame you. This bar smells wonderful as soon as it reach the almost end of the baking time. Just make sure to have it complete cooled and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, it’s worth the wait trust me you won’t regret it.
- 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 cup Rolled Oats
- 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted COLD Butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup Cherry Sauce – extra juice drain
- 1/4 cup Fresh Cherry – pitted and cut into quarters
Note: Double the recipe for a bigger batch and bake in 8 x 8-inch pan. Start with the suggested 350F at 35-45 minutes time and adjust baking time as needed.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray with oil and line a 5-inch or square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Make sure to leave some overhang for easy removal. Set aside.
- Make the Cherry Filling: Watch the VIDEO on how to make it.
- Alternatively, you can also use fresh Cherry (1 cup), or store-bought jam, or a combination of fresh Cherry and jam. You can also use other types of jam. I have other variations below, scroll down at the end of this post.
- Make the Crust: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into pieces and add it to the mixture. Using a mixer or a food processor, beat/mix on low-speed until it clump together and start to form into a dough.
- No Mixer: Use a lightly soften butter and mix with flour, sugar and salt. Use a sturdy spoon to mix until it forms into dough. Pick a small portion and squeeze, if it clump together, it is good to go. if it is still crumbly, continue mixing until all ingredients sticks together. Watch my Blueberry Chia Seed Jam Shortbread Crumb Bar to see how to make a crumb bar without a mixer
- Chill the Crust: Divide the dough crust into 2. Press 3/4 portion into the pan, firmly press it down into an even layer. Put in the freezer for at least 15 minutes to harden the crust before blind baking (pre-baking) it. Reserve remaining 1/4 portion of the dough mixture for topping, keep refrigerated while you pre-bake the dough crust.
- Pre-bake the Crust: Take out the chilled crust from the freezer. Pre-bake the dough crust at 350°F for about 20-25 minutes or until the top is set and the edges are lightly golden brown. Take out from the oven and add the Apricot filling. At this stage, you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to complete the baking process on the day that you want to serve the dessert. Cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and put in a ziplock bag. No need to thaw when ready to bake again.
- Add the Filling & Toppings: Spread the Cherry filling mixture over the pre-baked dough pressed into the pan. Remove the remaining 1/4 of the dough crust from the refrigerator and add sliced Cherry. Sprinkle on top of Cherry filling. Return to the oven and bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the top and the juices are bubbling. Check at 25 minutes mark to see if the top are already browning. . Remember that the based crust has been baked already, so you only need to topping to bake. As soon as you it nicely browned and bake, you can remove it from the oven even before the 35 – 45 minutes mark.
- Cool: Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Let cool completely before slicing. Chill in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes to allow the crust to harden. This will prevent breaking the bars when slicing it.
Makes 6 – 8 bars for big batch (8 x 8 square pan), and 4 – 6 bars for small batch (5 x 5-square pan)
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Enjoy! If you make this, share and tag me in Instagram #SweetNSpicyLiving. I would like to see your creations too.
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