A few years ago, Mike and I saw two spindly, seemingly forgotten blackberry plants for $15 (total, not each) at our local nursery. We brought them home, gave them prime real estate in some of the best soil our rocky Pittsburgh property has to offer, and hoped for the best.
From these two blackberry plants, about 10 more have grown. We cut them back each fall, because berries will only grow on new canes. This summer’s crop has yielded about 5 cups of berries so far, with tons more ripening as I write this. We pick new berries daily; those not fit to eat get pulled and tossed into the thicket, or left for the birds.
Because fresh berries have a limited shelf life, sometimes it’s best to bake with them – hence these blackberry pie bars, which I found over at The Novice Chef. I suspect that a lemon drizzle might make a good addition to these bars, or perhaps a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Mike declared them delicious without any additional accouterments, though.
For the crust
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- zest of 1 medium lemon
- 1 cup butter, cold and cut into 1-inch pats
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the blackberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- juice from 1 medium lemon
- 4 cups fresh blackberries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan; set aside.
In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and lemon zest and pulse several times to combine. Add butter, egg, and vanilla and pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. If using a smaller food processor (like I did), break up the mixture with a fork a bit every few pulses.
Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the baking pan; reserve remaining crust to crumble over the top.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice, mixing until smooth. Add berries and gently stir to coat; spoon berries over crust. Crumble the remaining crust mixture over the berries.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is lightly browned, being careful not to burn the bottom. Remove from oven and cool completely before serving, or spoon out while warm and serve like a cobbler.