When I was, oh, I don't know, maybe 12 or 13, my mother had (and I believe she still does have) a Company's Coming Bars and Squares cookbook. There was one recipe in there that I love so much, that it was the first thing I knew how to make by heart - chocolate chip squares. They were so easy, I could throw them together on a week night for our lunches throughout the week.
This post isn't really about the chocolate chip squares. It IS about throwing together some bars for lunches mid-week, AFTER you've made dinner, you're exhausted and pregnant.
Expedient. That's the name of the game.
I'd like to think I've upped the health ante somewhat on your typical jam bar by using spelt flour (you could just as easily use all purpose or whole wheat) and gluten free oats. And, since all I have on my shelves is homemade jam, I used up what was left of a jar of my mother's Ginger, Pear & Crème de Cacao jam AND finally cracked into one of my jars of elderberry jam.
In the interest of honesty, let me admit that the elderberry jam scared me. When I made it, I was totally turned off by the smell. But, as it turns out, if you let the jam sit for the better part of 6 months, you're in for a decadent treat. This is up there with blackcurrant jelly in terms of rich berry flavours.
Which is a big relief, given how much effort I put into making the stuff.
Jam Oat Bars
1 3/4 cups flour (spelt, whole wheat, all purpose, or a mixture)
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
3/4 cups chilled unsalted butter (use earth balance if you want to make this vegan), cut into chunks
½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups GF oats
1½ cups jam
1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line a 9"x13" baking ban with parchment paper, ensuring that paper extends over the sides of pan. This will make it easy to remove the bars.
2. In a food processor, pulse together, flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Add in chilled butter and vanilla, pulsing until small granules are formed. Add in oats and pulse twice. You want some of the oats to be in small pieces and others left whole.
3. Put 3/4 of the flour-oat mixture into the baking pan, patting down to firm. Spread jam over base. If you're using two flavours of jam, spread half on one side and half on the other. Sprinkle with remaining flour-oat mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until jam is bubbly.
4. Remove from oven and let cool completely in pan on a rack. Makes about 28 pieces, but you decide how much jammy goodness you need in a serving!