My close friends know I do not like fruit in my dessert. While you may think this is crazy talk, I have met several people who agree with me, so I know I'm alone. I will pass on a cobbler or fruit pie at the end of a meal and go without dessert altogether - Lord knows I don't NEED to eat dessert.
Those same close friends may be puzzled about why I bake these oatmeal bars and actually like them. I like to keep people guessing! Also, I've had enough fruit and oatmeal bars in the church fellowship hall to zero in on exactly what I want, and these are them.
For starters, the bottom crust is so buttery and delicious, more like a cookie than a crisp oatmeal cracker. I dare you not to sneak a second bite of the crumble after you mix the ingredients.
The middle fruit layer can be literally anything your family likes. My preference is a thin layer of strawberry or raspberry preserves, but you could substitute a homemade seasonal jam or jar of something else.
I also like to add sliced raw almonds to the top layer of crumble. You can add seeds or nuts too for added texture and flavor. It's so simple to make that Harper bakes this with me and loves gifting it to others.
3 cups old fashioned oatmeal
3 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar (loosely packed)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups melted butter (3 sticks, I prefer salted)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raw sliced almonds
11-ounce jar raspberry preserves
Soft, delicious crust
Mix the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, butter, salt, and vanilla into a crumble-like mixture. Press two-thirds of the crumble into the bottom of a 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees
Layer and bake
Warm the raspberry preserves in the microwave for 30 seconds to make it spreadable. Pour this over the bottom layer and smooth with the back of a spoon to cover.
Add the sliced almonds to the remaining crumble and sprinkle over the raspberry layer. Bake for another 25-30 minutes.
Once you remove from the oven, they will need some time to set up into "bars," so chill them for a few hours in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can serve them warm in a bowl along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (Blue Bell, of course, if it's available in your part of the world.)
Once they are chilled, you can easily remove them from the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper's edges and slicing into squares.