Blueberry pie, without the hassle of making a homemade pie crust!
Happy almost 4th of July. Festive blueberries mixed with apple pie - it doesn’t get more American than that!
I made these bars over the weekend after I spotted a blueberry sale at the grocery store. $2 per pint – I stocked up. I love fresh summer berry season! You could also make today’s bars with frozen blueberries. I have a huge bag of those in the freezer as we speak. Frozen berries make wonderful Blueberry Sweet Rolls.
Today’s bars are just like blueberry pie, without the hassle of making a homemade pie crust. Rather, the crust is made from whole wheat flour, oats, sugar, and butter. The crust’s job is two-fold, it’s the foundation for the juicy bars and the crumble topping. That fruity center is a homemade blueberry pie filling topped with a peeled and sliced Granny Smith apple. The tart green apple is a wonderful contrast to the sweet blueberry pie filling. An untraditional fruit pairing and I love it!
You’ll make the filling first on the stovetop. Combine 3 cups of blueberries with sugar, orange juice, and cornstarch. You may use frozen or fresh blueberries – meaning you can make them year round! Cook down the blueberries with the sugar and juice, before adding the cornstarch. Bring it to a boil then simmer. The cornstarch will be mixed with a few teaspoon of water before adding. Mix it until it resembles the consistency of milk. If you throw the cornstarch right into the blueberry mixture, you’ll end up with white chunks everywhere. Not pretty. Make sure you mix it with water beforehand, as noted in the recipe below.
Once the cornstarch is mixed in, allow the blueberry mixture to simmer on low as it miraculously thickens into a chunky blueberry jam. Oh it’s delicious. Allow the blueberry filling to cool completely. I stuck it in the refrigerator (to speed things up, obviously!) until I was ready to use it.
As the blueberry filling cools, make the crust. Flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and melted butter. That’s it! Mix it all together and set aside 1/3 of it to crumble on top. Press the remaining 2/3 of it into an aluminum foil lined square baking pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Top with the cooled blueberry filling. Then, top with 1 peeled and sliced apple.
Crumble the leftover crust on top of the apple and bake! The bars took about 40 minutes in my oven. The first time I made them, it took about 35 minutes. So I will tell you to bake it for anywhere between 35-45 minutes – just until the topping is lightly browned. Before you dig right in, you have to allow the bars to cool. If you do not allow the bars to cool, you will be left with a sloppy fruit crisp rather than bars. I allowed the bars to cool on the counter for about 30 minutes, then stuck in the refrigerator for 3 hours. The filling had set and the bars came out perfectly.
Remember, these are blueberry pie bars… so you’ll still need a fork to enjoy them. Unless you want to stain your fingers and favorite white tank top. No… I didn’t do that.
Warning: the bars are gooey, juicy, crumbly, and messy.
The bars taste like berry crumb pie with a bit of apple mixed in. The apple taste is faint, but its slight tartness is there. The buttery cinnamon flavor in the crust/topping work so well with the juicy blueberries. The filling “seeps” into the crust, so things get extra gooey as you take your first bite. Unbelievable!
The bars strike the perfect balance between tart and sweet & chewy and crunchy. The flavor and texture contrasts will make it hard to stop at only one. “Wait, I want just one more so I can take all that in!” There is so much going on with them, you won’t realize you had two or three…
And who says these pie bars only have to be for dessert? Oats, orange juice, blueberries, apple — I smell a nice accompaniment to my morning coffee, don’t you? And feel free to use any berries you like. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or even peaches, pears, and nectarines. This is the perfect dessert for you fruit lovers out there. And fruit lover… I am.
Wait until you smell your kitchen as these are baking. Hello heaven!
PS: try them with a huge scoop of melty vanilla ice cream.
Apple Blueberry Pie Bars
Makes 16 squares.
- 3 cups (390 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (not thawed)
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and sliced
Crust + Topping
- 1 and 1/2 cups (190 grams) white whole wheat flour (or mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose)
- 1 cup (80 grams) whole rolled oats (or quick oats)
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 10 Tablespoons (150 grams) butter, melted
Make the filling first by combining the blueberries, sugar, and orange juice into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute, then whisk for 1 minute. Mix the cornstarch with 3-4 teaspoons of warm water, until it resembles milk (if you don't mix with water, you will have white chunks in the filling). Add the watered down cornstarch to the blueberry mixture. Simmer on low heat for 3-4 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool. I poured mine into a bowl and refrigerated it until I was ready to use it.
Make the crust: Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line 8x8 or 9x9 square baking pan with aluminum foil. Set aside. Combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Toss with a large spoon. Add the melted butter and mix until the mixture is crumbly. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Press so that the crust is tight and even. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, which will allow it to set.
Remove crust from the oven after 10 minutes and spread the blueberry filling on top. Top with the peeled and sliced apple, as shown in the photo above. Top with the remaining oat crumble.
Bake for 35-45 minutes until the topping it lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours before cutting into squares. The bars will not cut if you do not chill them for 3+ hours.
Squares stay fresh at room temperature or in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 7 days. Bars freeze well, up to 3 months.
Make ahead: the filling may be made up to 2 days in advance.
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If you like fruity desserts, then you must try one of these recipes next!