Lemon Strawberry Crumb Bars
Good morning and happy Monday to you! The week ahead is a blissful one for a couple reasons. First, I’m finished my cookbook! Well, I have a few more photos to shoot but all 75 recipes are tested and written. D-O-N-E-Z-O! And second, we’re headed to Deep Creek Lake for a mini post-cookbook vacation with the pups today.
We’re staying in a beautiful cabin right on the lake. We’ve got lots of hiking and relaxing on the agenda. And we’re supposed to get lots of snow, too. I’m bringing my camera so I’ll be sure to snap some pics for my photography blog too!
But inside, it tastes like summertime. These lemon strawberry crumb bars are like my raspberry streusel bars in that there’s a crust layer, fruit layer, topping, and glaze. But this recipe is actually a bit easier. The crust and crumb topping are made from the same buttery brown sugar dough. The strawberry filling isn’t made from jam or preserves. Rather, a truckload of fresh strawberries, some sugar, fresh lemon zest, and cornstarch for thickening. The glaze, while definitely optional, is lemon! Flavor today = 10++
There’s sweet, zesty, and tangy + crumby, soft, and juicy. These bars are strawberry lemonade in square form. A 9×13 pan of pure sunshine. There might be a snowstorm a-brewin’ but inside our kitchen? So long, winter.
You don’t need a fully stocked pantry to make these. In fact, I guarantee you have most of the ingredients on hand like flour, butter, brown sugar, and eggs. You’ll need about 1 and 1/2 pounds of fresh strawberries and a fresh lemon, but other than that– you should be all set to start baking!
If there’s a tricky part to these lemon strawberry bars, it would be cutting the butter into the dry ingredients. And, honestly, that’s not even too difficult. If you don’t want to do this step by hand, plug in your food processor and pulse until you’ve got some beautiful pea-sized flour crumbs. Here’s what I mean:
Cold Cold Cold
Make sure the butter is extra cold. Like pie crust and scone-making, if you use warmer butter– it will melt before the bars even hit the oven. Basically resulting in a greasy strawberry glob.
To the butter/flour crumbs, add the wet ingredients. You’ll need an egg + extra yolk, brown sugar, and vanilla. A note on the egg: yep, you’ll need 1 whole egg plus an extra egg yolk. I found the mixture to be too dry without that extra egg yolk and too wet (and sorta cakey) with a whole 2nd egg.
Honestly, the best tool for mixing these wet ingredients into the butter/flour crumbs is your HANDS! It took me for-ev-er to mix with a spoon and spatula, not to mention the butter/flour explosion on my counter. So yeah, use your hands to really get that mixture combined.
And here’s a tip: don’t overwork the mixture because your hands may heat up the dough. And remember, we want cold!
Then press about 2/3 of the mixture into a pan. The rest will be used for the crumb topping over the fresh strawberries.
The bars are on the thick side, so they take a good 45-50 minutes in the oven. Then, and here’s where your patience really has to kick in, wait until the bars completely cool before digging in. Though… DANG these are tasty when warm! But they’ll completely fall apart if they haven’t cooled down.
After a day or two… if these strawberry bars last that long… the juicy filling softens and keeps the layers extra moist. They’re even better on day 2!
Lemon Strawberry Crumb Bars
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (230g) butter, very cold and cubed
- 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk1
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups (650g) chopped strawberries2
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 9x13 inch pan pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished bars out of the pan as a whole. This makes cutting easier.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or pulse in a food processor until pea-sized crumbs form. See photo above for a visual.
- Whisk the brown sugar, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla together. Pour into the flour/butter mixture and mix it all together by hand. I find using a spoon or rubber spatula to take much longer. Your hands are quicker and more effective! Press 2/3 of this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Make sure it is very tight and compact.
- Mix the strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon zest, and cornstarch together until combined. Spoon evenly over crust. Crumble the remaining butter/flour mixture on top and gently press down so it's snug on the strawberry layer.
- Bake for 42-50 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the strawberry filling is bubbling on the sides. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. I stick mine in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process.
- Whisk the glaze ingredients together and drizzle on top (or you can drizzle on individual squares). Lift the cooled bars out using the overhang on the sides. Cut into squares.
- Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make ahead tip: Prepare the bars 1-3 days in advance and store covered tightly in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Bars can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- You'll need 1 whole egg + an extra egg yolk.
- This is about 1 and 1/2 - 2 lbs whole strawberries.
Smaller batch: If a 9x13 pan is too much, you can easily halve the recipe in a 9x9 pan. And, if you do that, just use 1 egg instead of 1 egg + egg yolk. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 35-37 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling on the sides.
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Oh and PS: try this crumb cake next.
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