I recently read this funny blog post entitled, "10 Things You Should Know About Food Bloggers" which completely cracked me up. The writer at Not Quite Nigella wrote describing 10 idiosyncrasies of bloggers and I think I fit 9 out of the 10 items. The item that caught my eye was #6 "If you ever want to give a gift, give food." The author waxed eloquent about receiving a roast rib of pork as a gift - I personally love anything food related as a present. I've gotten several "just because" presents of cookbooks, recipe binder dividers, a waffle iron, a serving dish, and this time, blackberries.
Friend TR called me on her cell phone saying, "I'm going to my parents' place to pick blackberries from their yard. Do you want some?" My ears perked up because we are talking fully ripened blackberries; how often does someone offer you that? I said, "Yes. I want. I want to make Blackberry Pie Bars" a recipe I had seen and was intrigued by. The bars must have sounded pretty good to TR, because she immediately responded, "How many baskets you need?" and I responded with "Six" and she didn't even flinch. It happened to be on one of the hotter days but she picked away and brought me six beautiful baskets of blackberries. I, in return, made a HUGE pan of these blackberry bars and divided them among 4 different families. (TR's family got a huge boxful.)
These bars are not really what you expect when you hear "pie" but are really sort of a bar cookie with a custardy filling that just bursts alive with the blackberries. They are truly yummy though, and as TR and I discovered, are particularly delicious as a breakfast treat with a cup of coffee. (Uh, yes, you can have pie for breakfast.)
I made a huge full sheet pan of the bars and it was divided to four different households and it was clearly MORE than enough. I've halved the recipe so that it will fit comfortably and deliciously into a 9X13 standard pan. They are simple to make so I hope that you can find a nice friend to give you some blackberries, or at least you can pick some up fairly easily.
As a footnote, I had an opportunity to make these with BLUEBERRIES, and I thought them more delicious than the original blackberries.
Blackberry Pie Bars (adapted from Joy the Baker)
Crust and topping
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
zest of one lemon
pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 350. On a work surface (I used a cutting board), mix together the lemon zest and sugar. Using the back of a spoon or your fingers, rub the lemon zest with the sugar, thereby releasing oils from the lemon.
2. In the bowl of your mixer, dump in the flour, lemon sugar mixture, cold butter, and salt. Beat with paddle attachment until the mixture resembles crumbs. If you do not have a stand mixer, with a hand mixer beat on low until the mixture resembles crumbs
3. Set aside 3/4 cup of the mixture for the topping. Pour the remainder into a GREASED or parchment lined 9X13 pan and use your fingertips to press the crumbs into the pan. The crumbs will gradually come together.
4. Bake the dough for 10-12 minutes (at 350) or until the crust is lightly golden. Make sure you get to the golden crust because it really adds a wonderful texture to the bar. Allow crust to cool for 10 minutes while assembling the filling.
Filling and Assembly
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 cups fresh blackberries (if using frozen, thaw and drain first)
1. Whisk together eggs, sugar, sour cream and flour in a large bowl. Add blackberries.
2. Pour blackberries over the golden baked crust and spread evenly. (This may require some proper distribution of the berries as they tend to congregate in one area.)
3. Sprinkle the remaining dough on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350, until the pie bar is golden brown. Allow to cool at least 1 1/2 hours before cutting.