Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jam Bars

My apologies for the very very late post this week. We went away for a little adventure in San Francisco this past weekend and I'm spending the remainder of the week playing "catch up" around the house. Laundry, grocery shopping, end-of-school-year general chaos. Just the stuff that seems to consume my life some days. But it's so worth it. To get to escape a little to the big city and have a little fun. What fun we had!

We participated in the "Bay To Breakers" this past weekend. My husband, my 13 year old daughter, my 11 year old son and me. It was crazy! If you don't know what the Bay To Breakers is definitely google it! (Be warned you may get some pictures of people with nuttin' on.) It is the worlds oldest foot race; a 12K (thats 7.3 miles to us non-runner types.) run/walk; a moving party; a freak show. Besides being a race it's a crazy event where people wear costumes and some wear nothing but their birthday suits. Which, by the way, totally grossed-out my kids, as it should have. Its where many let their freak flag fly and oh my, some were mighty freaky! "You won't find a more wretched hive of scum and villany." (name that movie!) So why would an average, suburban, middle class family choose to participate? This year just so happened to be the 100th Anniversary of the race, and there has been talk of canceling it in the future, so I wanted to my kids to do it just once. To participate in something big. Something unlike our controlled suburban environment. To push outside the comfort zone and experience a little "real life". To see the world and humanity on a wider stage, for better or worse. And we saw a lot. Lots of "teaching moments" for our kids. And we did it. We finished. All 7.3 miles of it. Plus the 13 blocks we walked from our hotel to the starting line. Plus the 2 miles we walked back to the Polo Fields to get our t-shirt and finishers medal. Plus the other 15 blocks we walked to catch a ride back to the hotel. Whew! It was a lot of walking!

For a baker, cook and eater, that meant a lot of calories burned. Wahoo! A free pass to eat whatever I want. So of course the night before we went to Cheesecake Factory. And of course we ordered Fired Macaroni and Cheese. . .divine, and pasta. . .delicious and CHEESECAKE. . .out of this world. My son and I are working on a homemade version of the Macaroni and Cheese. Stay tuned. After the race we popped into the nearest smoothie joint. It's a big chain, I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about. I got my usual Peach Pleasure smoothie and then spied a jam bar in the pastry case. I had all those burnt calories to replace so why not. I got a jam bar and. . .meh, it was just OK. Kind of gummy, mushy and soft, like it had been sitting there quite a while. And oh how I love jam bars. It was nothing short of heartbreak. When I got home I couldn't shake the dissappointment of the jam bar. The jam bar had to be redeemed. I went to my trusty recipe binder, got out my trusty jam bar recipe and set to baking. Enjoy!

Here's what you need: flour, baking powder, salt, rolled oats (I like the quick cooking kind for this recipe.), brown sugar, butter, your favorite jam/jelly/preserves, chopped nuts (your choice, I usually use almonds but I didn't have any so I used pecans.).

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, rolled oats and 
brown sugar.

Toss in the nuts. You can wait and just put the nuts on the top layer but I like them throughout. Your choice.

Cut the butter up into smaller pieces and then blend into the dry ingredients. You can use at pastry blender or do like I do and just use your hands (they're easier). These bars are pretty crumbly, I like them that way but if you prefer that the bar hold together a bit more, just add 2-3 more tablespoons of butter.

This is what it should look like once all the butter is blended in. It will be pretty dry but if you pick some up in your hand and squeeze it should hold together.

Take out roughly 2 cups of the crumb mixture and set aside. Pat the rest into a 13x9 inch pan. Pack it in pretty good and even. Press down HARD.

Next spread 2 cups of your favorite jam, jelly or preserves on top of the crust. I was using cherry preserves but didn't have 2 cups, so I used apricot jam to make up the difference. Turned out pretty tasty. Just use what ever flavor combination you like.

Crumble the reserved 2 cups of crumbs on top leaving some gaps. If you didn't add the nuts into the mixture before then just sprinkle them on top. Then into the oven; 350°F; for 25-30 minutes until the top starts to brown.

Cool completely and then cut into squares. Yummy Jam Bars.

Jam Bars
2 C. flour
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 C. quick cooking rolled oats
1 C. brown sugar
1 C. butter
2 C. jam, jelly or preserves
1/2 C. chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, rolled oats, brown sugar and nuts*.
Cut in butter until crumbly.
Reserve 2 cups crumbs. Pat remainder of mixture into a 13x9 inch pan.
Spread jam over bottom crust and then top with remaining crumbs.
*Sprinkle with nuts if nuts were not added into crust.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until top starts to brown.
Cool completely before cutting into bars.
Makes approximately 24  2x2 inch bars.


  1. These are a favorite! They take me back to the days in the coffee house. :)

  2. Me too! My the kids aren't crazy about them so Ed and I have eaten the whole pan. Had one for lunch today. YIKES!