Last weekend, I went berry picking with some friends. I have never done so in Oregon, which is idiotic, because everyone knows Oregon has the best berries anywhere. It is strawberry season in Oregon, and is starting to be blueberry and raspberry season. Blueberries are easy to pick, because they are on trees at a normal, human height. Strawberries, however, are low to the ground and apparently enjoy hiding in thickets of thorny nonsense. You kind of squat down and scuttle along the rows looking for berries. Collecting a big bucket of berries made me feel satisfied to have come from a long line of peasants on both sides of my family, which is contrary to my childhood feelings about the same subject, during which time I was sure I was descended from royalty. Not so, I’m told.
In any case, I picked a shitload of berries. Far more than one person can consume. So, I froze a bunch of them, in that Martha Stewart-y method where you lay out the berries on a cookie sheet and freeze them, then gather them up into ziploc bags individually when they’re frozen, so you have pretty, individually frozen berries instead of a frozen gloppy mess. It worked perfectly.
In the interest of using up some of my berries AND of making a gluten free dessert for a buddy, I landed on Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars. (I wanted to make a blueberry tart, but I don’t have a tart pan and seeing as I DO have a bundt pan AND a springform pan, that seems like enough pans I use once per decade.) If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know anything about celiac disease, wheat allergies or the general gluten free food thing, I’d like to introduce you to the internet.
I’ve never made anything gluten free on purpose. You know, like roasted asparagus. That is gluten free. But something normally made with wheat not made with wheat? No. Turns out, though, that there is a plethora of gluten free choices. Almond flour, amaranth flour (? This seems like what lembas bread is probably made from, and if you get that reference, you’re a dork and we would get along famously), rice flour, oat flour, arrowroot flour, fava bean flour, chickpea flour, etc. I opted for rice flour, because a dessert made out of fava beans is weird, and oat flour, because that is something I could make myself.
These bars were so easy. So so easy and so very delicious. I think with nuts in them, these bars would be easily good enough for you to have for breakfast, or you could have them for dessert with ice cream and they’d still be wonderful.
Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars
1 cup rice flour
1 1/4 cups oat flour (you can make your own by pulsing oats in a food processor until more or less fine, but they make a nice base when they’re a little rough)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) butter, softened
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp corn starch
juice of half a lemon
Method: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan, cook the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, then let it cool until you can touch it. It should be relatively thick, like jam.
For the crust, mix together all the dry ingredients, then smush in the butter, egg and oil with your fingers until the crust is sandy but mostly holds together. Into a greased square baking pan, press 3/4 of the dough into the bottom, pretty firmly and be sure to cover the pan completely, not leaving any holes.
Pour the blueberry compote onto the dough, then drop the remaining 1/4 of dough onto the top of the berries.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top dough is lightly browned. Let cool completely before cutting.
These turned out perfectly. Taking the extra step of cooking the blueberries was my way of ensuring that they didn’t get too runny and create a cobbler instead of bars. They turned out beautifully. I even took them to the beach. And! No gluten!