Strawberry oat streusel bars are bursting with fresh strawberry flavor. The base is crumbly and tender with sweetened oats and pecans and the top is nothing but buttery streusel goodness. Best of all, these take just 15 minutes to prep using a food processor!
Nothing offers the promise of summer like a field full of fresh strawberries. And, in my experience, there are few better ways to spend a warm May morning than with your mouth full of sun-warmed fruit, fingers died red from picking and more fresh strawberries than you can carry (thank goodness for golf carts).
Last week I piled Molly and Clara in the car, recruited my sisters Veronica and Rachel as berry pickers for the morning and we all drove 40 minutes out to Lawrence, Kansas where the automated message at Wohletz Farm Fresh promised that the berry fields were full and ready for picking.
It was one of those perfect late spring mornings. Nearly chilly when we arrived just before 10am, but warm enough for shorts by the time we left. Molly and Clara were confused by all the people, enchanted by the hay bale playground at the entrance to the picking field and then amazed that they could actually eat the red fruits growing out of the ground. And eat them they did!
We picked over 40 pounds in about an hour. (Here’s my sister Veronica with one of our full trays.)
I spent the entire drive home smelling those berries warming in the sun in the back seat and scheming about all of the things we would make with them.
And the final tally is that we froze about 20 pounds, between all members of our family probably ate about 15 pounds in pure, minimally-fussed-with glory and used 5 pounds for baking and/or topping angel food cake.
For the past week, every time I ask Molly and Clara to guess what we’re doing that day, the first thing they say is “pick stt-aw-berries.” We might have to go back for more.
But not until we’ve polished off the last of the Strawberry Oat Bars I’d been testing in anticipation of the fresh-picked bounty.
These sweet, crumbly bars are inspired by an old favorite recipe for Raspberry Squares from the Cook’s Illustrated book American Classics. Their version uses a base of crushed pecans and oats which, on several occasions when I lived overseas and had no kitchen appliances, I chopped obsessively by hand. (Now I just toss it all in the food processor and it’s done in 5 minutes.)
The fresh strawberry filling is left almost entirely alone (though you can add a bit of sugar if you want), so it really shines through. Every bite tastes like the late spring sun and the transition to summer.
- ½ cup Pecan Halves
- ½ cup Rolled Oats (sometimes labeled Old Fashioned Oats)
- 2 cups All-Purpouse Flour
- ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
- ½ cup packed Light Brown Sugar
- ¼ tsp Salt
- 12 Tbsp cold Unsalted Butter
- 1 Egg
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- ¼ tsp Baking Soda
- 3 cups Fresh Strawberries (substitute 1½ cups of any berry jam)
- Preheat oven to 350 F / 177 C. Line a 9x9 baking dish (an 8x8 will work too) with a piece of parchment paper or foil (this will help you to remove the bars after cooking) and spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse pecans and oats until finely ground. Add flour, both sugars and salt and pulse a couple times to combine.
- Slice butter into 12 pieces and add to food processor. Pulse just until the butter is broken up into small pea-sized pieces. Transfer 1 cup of the mixture to a bowl for the streusel topping and place the bowl in the fridge.
- To the remaining dough in the food processor, add egg, vanilla and baking soda. Blend until the egg is fully incorporated. Pour the dough into prepared baking pan. Wet your hands with tap water (this will prevent the dough from sticking) and press it evenly into the pan.
- Bake crust until starting to turn golden brown on top, 10 to 12 minutes.
- While the crust bakes, slice strawberries. If you think the slice berries could benefit from a bit of extra sweetness, toss them with 1 Tbsp of granulated sugar. (Fresh picked berries are usually quite sweet, but many store-bought varieties are much better with a tiny bit of extra sugar.)
- Top the pre-baked crust with sliced strawberries and sprinkle the refrigerated streusel over top.
- Bake until the strawberries are bubbly and jam-like and the streusel is golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes more.
- Let cool to room temperature before slicing.
- Bars will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
And as if my little helpers didn’t get enough of the strawberries in the field, they sure cleaned up the strawberry streusel oat bars.