Monday, March 11, 2013

The last of the huckleberries

As a kid we had several blueberry bushes in our yard, mostly they were just for show, the birds would eat most of the bounty, but we were never short of berries. Between the backyard and our down the street neighbors Pick-your-own-blueberry farm, our pancakes never went without and our freezer was full all winter long. My sister used to eat the frozen berries straight from the bag until her teeth and fingers were numb and her hands and mouth stained a purple you were sure would last weeks.

I, on the other hand, preferred the cakes and breads and pies. I'm still a firm believer in blueberries and this summer when I return home to the east coast to visit my oldest sister and her newest baby boy, I fully intend on eating my fair share-- and then some. 

But, for the past two summers, as I've made my home here in the Pacific Northwest, I've developed a taste for a new type of berry... Huckleberries.  At the end of last summer I had five pounds in my freezer and despite surviving a move across town, I am finally nearing the last of the huckleberries. 

In fact, I'm pretty sure this will be the last baked good I make with them- I have plans to use the leftovers to make huckleberry sipping vinegar for summer cocktails. Huckleberry and Gin anyone? But until then I  leave you with yet again another dessert you can justifiably eat for breakfast. 

Huckleberry Crumb Bars. 

This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen's  adaptation of this recipe from Allrecipes. I liked the first adaptions, but cut down the sugar and upped the lemon a little, to brighten up my frozen huckleberries. Also, since my berries were frozen I kept them that way, but if you have fresh ones, use those. 

1 cup sugar 
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
8 ounces butter (cold) 
1 egg
zest of one lemon
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice 
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
4 cups (frozen) huckleberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9x13 inch pan

In a bowl mix together 1 cup sugar, flour, and baking powder, then add salt and lemon zest.  Work in cold butter and egg with a knife or pastry cutter. The dough will be crumbly, however take care not to leave large chunks of butter.  Pour half of the dough into the prepared pan and press it down, with your fingers is fine, to form a bottom crust.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl mix 1/3 cup sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch until the corn starch is well incorporated. Mix in berries. Spread berries evenly over bottom crust. Crumble the remaining crust over top, but do not press down

Bake for 45 minutes or until top is slightly golden brown.  Let chill completely before cutting. 

Until next summer, I bid you adieu, Huckleberries. You'll be missed. 

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