Plum & Blackberry Pie Bars

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For months now I’ve been feeling envious of anyone I see on Instagram who has gone on either a photography workshop, cooking workshop, or – worst of all – a food photography workshop. I just sit here thinking about it & talking about it & never actually thinking I could find myself being part of one. Well, I’ve taken the leap & signed up for a workshop that starts next weekend. NEXT WEEKEND. As soon as I read about the workshop I was in love with the idea of signing up, & (by some magical mind control power) (or simply a strong desire to get me to shut up about workshops), Boyfriend managed to convince me that it would be a good idea to just book it & go. (This is why I bake him cookies when he asks; he totally deserves them.)

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Friends, let me tell you, this workshop is entirely perfect for me. PERFECT, with a capital P through to T. The whole thing is taking place in Notting Hill, London. Now, if you knew me in real life, you’d know what Notting Hill is one of my top 5 guilty pleasure movies in the entire history of the world (so obviously I’ve seen it about 10+ times & feel absolutely zero shame about it). Notting Hill also happens to be the one area of London that has somehow evaded me on past visits to the city & I am dying to see the markets & colorful houses with my own two eyes. Not to mention the fact that London is literally about an hour’s plane ride from Dublin. I mean, come on.

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There’s one more thing about the workshop that caught my interest just ever so slightly. Hugely, actually. You guys are familiar with Joy the Baker, right? It’s one of my favourite food blogs, if not (most definitely is) my absolute favourite. I’ve been reading Joy’s blog for about six years now, & it was actually one of the main reasons I decided I wanted to start my own little baking blog. Can you imagine my excitement when I saw that Joy the Baker herself is going to be one of five heading up the workshop? You guys, you have no idea, none. On one hand, being part of the workshop is a dream come true because I’ll get to meet the woman that inspired this little space… on the other hand it’s kinda sorta stressing me out because I’ll have to keep my inner fan-girl under control so Joy doesn’t think I’m a total weirdo.

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After deciding to commit to the workshop, all the little details started to fall into place – accommodation, time off work, flights, everything. I couldn’t be more excited if I tried. It’s perfect. (Did I mention that already?) Booking the workshop is what gave me a little kick to get back into our imperfect little kitchen & coax out something delicious. Similar to the last post, this recipe was entirely inspired by Yossy Arefi’s beautiful book Sweeter Off the Vine. The weather here in Ireland is becoming colder, so Boyfriend & I wanted something warm, cozy, & full of butter. Pie bars were the obvious choice, & our local shop dictated that they’d be plum & blackberry flavoured.

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Buttery & delicious, this is such a satisfying recipe. They’re hearty, comforting, gooey, crazy flavoursome, & so versatile – they could literally be made with any fruit you can get your hands on. On top of all this, Boyfriend thinks they’re one of the best things I’ve baked in the last year. I mean, he thinks they’re on par with the Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake, & that’s kind of a big deal.

Printable Recipe

Makes 9 large bars or 12 regular bars | Adapted from Yossy Arefi

Ingredients

For the base: 

  • 170g salted butter
  • 255g plain flour
  • 60g light brown sugar

For the crumble topping:

  • 125g plain flour
  • 45g jumbo oats
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 115g salted butter, at room temperature

For the filling:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, I always use homemade
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 200g blackberries
  • 460g plums, pitted & coarsely chopped

Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C & grease & line a 9 x 9-inch brownie tin with baking parchment; set aside.
  2. First, make the crust. Place the butter in a saucepan over a medium to high heat & leave to brown. Swirl the butter occasionally. After about 5 minutes, the foam should subside & you should start to see a light brown colour, & it should smell nutty. Remove from the heat & pour into a different bowl to cool to room temperature. (I’m impatient, so our butter was promptly put into the fridge to cool down.)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour with the brown sugar. Pour in the cooled brown butter & mix until a ball of dough forms. Neatly press the dough into the prepared tin until evenly dispersed & bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
  4. Next, make the crisp topping. Using your fingertips, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl until crumbs start to form. Set aside.
  5. Now, the filling. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, & lemon juice to a large bowl & use your fingers to fully incorporate. Mix in the spices and the  flour. Finally, add the plums & blackberries to the bowl & toss thoroughly.
  6. Pour the filling over the par-baked crust & sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the top. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the fruits start to release their juices.
  7. Leave to cool completely before slicing. Enjoy slightly warm with some whipped cream!

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