A strawberry curd with fresh bites of strawberries on a nutty oat and whole wheat base for a not-too-sweet and creamy treat.
It’s strawberry season! Well ok, in California strawberry season lasts from April to November sometimes, but the best ones are here now. I have several strawberry-centric recipes coming up for you. Including several for when you let yourself buy the whole flat at the farm stand and now you need to use them up fast.
I have been waiting to share this recipe since last year – strawberries were still in season for me, but not most people – when I developed it out of the question: can you make something like a lemon bar without it being predominantly lemon? And yes, yes you can. The principles are very similar; you are starting the process of making a curd with butter, water, sugar, and fruit on the stove, and then finishing it in the oven. You just have to use a lot more strawberries than lemon to get the same intensity of flavour (and most of the liquid here is coming from the strawberries).
But it was fun to go in a different direction than just making strawberry lemonade bars. They are creamy without containing a bunch of dairy; cooking with strawberries down with the butter made for a nice texture to the curd, with chunks of fruit scattered throughout. And they don’t need an excess of sweet to balance out the acidity of the lemon. If fact I advise against trying to coat them in powdered sugar. They have more moisture than your standard bar (cooked fruit will do that) and the powdered sugar just turns into a runny, translucent slick on the top. Not quite as appealing. So the overall bar is less sweet, but still very flavourful.
Most of the time I steer away from whole wheat flour in my desserts (I think a little is critical in bread though), but sometimes you just want that extra nuttiness without sacrificing structural integrity. The original recipe was made with a combination of ground almonds and very fine corn meal, but it was super tricky to work with (i.e. only worked 50% of the time). So I passed on trying to make them gluten free (sorry, can’t please everyone all the time) and went for the oat/whole wheat combo for a flavorful crust. The almond and corn meal combination was very tasty, so if you are gluten free; try using 2/3 c of each rather than the wheat and oats.
- ½ c/75g whole wheat flour
- ¾ c/90g rolled oats
- ½ c/100g granulated sugar
- ½ c/115g butter cubed
- 1 tbs/7g lemon zest
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 lb/500g strawberries washed and sliced
- 4 tbsp/60g butter
- 3 tbsp/30g corn starch
- 3 tbsp/45ml lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ c/65g granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- Line 8”x8” pan with baking parchment (cross two strips).
- Combine all crust ingredients in a food processor and blend until a dough forms and there are no lumps of butter. The oats will get slightly ground up, but this is ok.
- Pat into prepared pan until level. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Par bake crust for 20-25 minutes or until just starting to get a hint of brown at the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
- While crust is chilling and baking, prepare strawberry layer:
- Combine butter and strawberries in a pot over low heat. Stir regularly for 15-20 minutes, until mixture is creamy looking and the strawberries are very soft. Remove from heat.
- Combine cornstarch and lemon juice in a small bowl, stirring until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Set aside.
- Whisk together eggs, sugar, and salt until light and frothy.
- Add corn starch mixture to egg mixture, combining thoroughly.
- Stirring continuously, pour egg mixture into strawberries. Return to heat and stir constantly for 5 minutes until thick and drops slowly from spoon.
- Pour strawberry mixture onto crust, smoothing until even.
- Return to oven for 30-40 minutes. When jostled, the strawberry layer will jiggle but should otherwise be set. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Very good chilled as well.