Sunday, April 20, 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Oat Bars

When I bake I rarely consider calories or the content of what goes into my food except for the obligatory "do I have everything to make this recipe" question. Chris and I are ridiculously healthy and neither one of us is allergic to anything, therefore the only food off limits is stuff we don't like, and since we both pretty much eat anything, the list of things we won't eat is very small.

Other people aren't nearly as fortunate as Chris and me. Some are just plain picky which annoys me to no end, but then there are the unfortunate people who are allergic to certain foods. Most of them get by just fine without every really thinking about to much about it, but then there are people like my boss. First off, he has celiacs disease -- which in very simple terms means he's allergic to wheat. (for anyone interested in knowing more there is a very good food blog out there called Gluten Free Girl). As if that weren't bad enough though, my boss is also allergic to eggs, corn, nuts and peanuts. Holy crap that's a lot of stuff to avoid.

There are several good options for gluten-free baking, but gluten-free baking that doesn't call for eggs is almost unheard of. There are also a lot of gluten-free "flours" out there now, but I learned the hard way that most of those taste completely nasty. For months now I have considered various options for gluten-free, egg-free, corn-free baking, but it's been on the back burner for the most part, overlooked in favor of recipes that don't call for a lot of substitutions or experiments.

Then I found the recipe for Blueberry Oat Bars on Cookie Madness. First off, the recipe didn't have eggs in it to begin with, secondly, it only called for 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, which I knew I could substitute rice or oat flour for without really compromising the texture or flavor that much. The only other change I had to make was that it called for cornstarch to thicken the fruit mixture -- corn starch was out, but I had xantham gum and that worked just fine. I did substitute strawberry and rhubarb for the frozen blueberries, but that's because they were on sale at the grocery store and I love the flavors of them.

It worked like a charm. This is one of those recipes that I altered for dietary reasons that I would be happy to serve any day of the week to people with or without allergies. The only thing I might do differently is add more rhubarb for more of a tart contrast, but that's just nitpicking at this point. And the beauty of it is that you can pretty much substitute any fruit you want -- frozen or fresh -- and still have a great result.

1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup dark or light brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 2/3 cup chopped strawberries and rhubarb
3 tablespoons granulated sugar 1/2 tsp xantham gum
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick foil or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add melted butter and stir with fork until evenly moistened (mixture will be very crumbly). Reserve 1/2 cup crumb mixture for topping; Press remaining mixture firmly over bottom of foil-lined pan. Bake 12 minutes to set crust.

Prepare Filling: In a small saucepan, combine fruit, sugar and xantham gum. Stir in lemon juice. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until mixture begins to thicken slight (it won’t be too thick) and clear (about 7 minutes). Remove from heat and pour over baked crust. Crumble reserved crumb mixture over top.

Bake 30 minutes until top is browned and filling is bubbly. Let cool completely in pan set on a wire rack. When cool, chill for an hour before cutting. Lift foil by ends onto a cutting board. Peel off foil; cut into 12 bars. Store in refrigerator, but serve at room temperature.


Grace said...

first of all, your recipe (with or without the allergy-related alterations) rocks--strawberry and rhubarb are such a happy couple!
secondly, i'm also able to eat pretty much whatever i want, and i think i need to stop and appreciate that fact more often!

burkie said...

this one is a winner! it's like eating a hand-held strawberry-rhubarb crisp, and what's not to like about that?

LisaRene said...

These make my mouth water, so delicious!