Blueberry Crumb Bars

Spring is in the air! 

Okay, that’s not really true since it is only February and will likely snow again before we really escape winter. However, it broke 40 degrees today so I’m taking that as a win and breaking out the blueberries. I’m all about sharing the love these days (cue horrifying world events in the news), so any recipe that you can make and easily share with a big group is top of the list.  

One of the things I love most about these bars is they are sturdy. Many “crumb” bars are delicate and tend to fall apart when you pick them up. But when these bars cool, the natural blueberry sugar and added sugar in the top layer come together almost and become almost a bit sticky, making for a firm bar that cuts cleanly for sharing. They also have generous dose of lemon juice and zest that makes them sweet and tart and absolutely delightful. 

To make, preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line an 8×8 pan (this one is my go to for all bars) with two pieces of parchment that hang over the sides. This will make it easier to remove the bars once cooled.

In a medium bowl, toss together the blueberries, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice & sugar. Set aside.

In a seperate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Cut in the cold butter and egg yolk using a pastry cutter.

Pro Tip #1: You can combine all ingredients in a food processer and pulse until butter is combined and mixture looks like course crumbs.

Pro Tip #2: Pop your cut up butter in the freezer for 10 m before you combine to ensure it is really cold. Cold butter creates steam pockets when it bakes, allowing the flower mixture to become really flaky and textured.

Firmly press about 3/4 of your cumb mixture into the prepared pan, making sure you have an even layer and have reached each corner of the pan. Pour the blueberry mixture on top.

Add another tablespoon of both white and brown sugar to the remaining flour mixture and combine. Pour the remaining crumble over the blueberry layer, by first squeezing the mixture in your hand to create larger bunches, and dropping over blueberries.   

Bake the bars for about 45 minutes, or until the berries are bubbling and the top crumb layer is a golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on rack for a full 30 minutes, and then place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or up to overnight. This will allow the blueberries to full cool and create that great “stickiness” with the crumbs, allowing them to be easily sliced and shared. They are aboslutely delicious cold – the lemon flavor really stands out. But if you want to warm them up once cut, pop them into the microwave for 20 seconds and top with vanilla ice cream for a truly outstanding treat. 

xoxo,
Elizabeth

Follow me on Instagram and tag #littlebitsbakery so I can see all the recipes you make. ♥

Blueberry Crumble Bars
Yields 9
Sweet and tart, with a butter crumb topping.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. For the Blueberry Layer
  2. 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  3. 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  4. 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  5. 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  6. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  7. For the Bottom Lay & Top Crumble
  8. 1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour , spooned & leveled
  9. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  10. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  11. 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  12. 1 large egg yolk
  13. 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  14. 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line an 8x8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper, ensuring it hangs over the side.
  2. In a medium bowl toss together the blueberries, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice & sugar. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl (or food processor) whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar & baking powder.
  4. Cut in the butter & egg yolk using a pastry cutter or in mixer until the mixture is course and crumbly.
  5. Press three quarters of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, ensuring it is even and in all corners. Pour the blueberry mixture over top.
  6. To the remaining flour mixture, stir in the brown sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.
  7. Crumble the remaining dough over the blueberry mixture by squeezing it in a fist with your hand, then crumbling it over top.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until you see the blueberries bubbling and the crumble layer starting to turn golden.
  9. Allow to cool fully to room temperature (about 30 minutes), then place in fridge for at least an additional hour, but up to overnight.
  10. When ready to serve, lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang and cut into squares.
  11. Top with lemon zest or vanilla ice cream and serve!
Notes
  1. Blueberries can easily be swapped out with other fruit - cherries, strawberries, raspberries. Just increase the sugar slightly, since these berries aren't as naturally "sticky" when baked!
  2. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Little Bits Bakery http://littlebitsbakery.com/
 Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Little Bits Bakery. 

Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

This has been a really good week. I have crushed my to-do list, gotten to the gym a few times, brought my lunch to work everyday, and got a great haircut. Seriously, it’s been awesome. So I’m celebrating with some cupcakes. And not your normal run-of-the-mill vanilla cupcakes. I’m talking banana cupcakes with cinammon cream cheese frosting. Mic drop. 

Okay, I’ll stop being so melodramatic. I’m just excited. 

Overripe banana’s are usually reserved for banana bread, but they are equally delicious in a dessert. This recipe creates a really moist cake that is PACKED with bananas, and topped with an amazing cinnamon cream cheese frosting. They have all the satisfying sweetness of a cupcakes but with the light fluffiness of banana bread. A few things to make this easier? A kitchenaid mixer, cupcake pan, cupcake liners, piping bag, and piping tips. Now you’re armed and dangerous.  

So I’m just going to leave this recipe here and let the happiness commence. 

xoxo,

Elizabeth 

Follow me on Instagram and tag #littlebitsbakery so I can see all the recipes you make. ♥

Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
this cupcake is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 and 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 3 large very ripe bananas)
  6. 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  7. 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  8. 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  9. 2 large eggs, at room temperature*
  10. 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature*
  11. 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  12. 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 6 liners as this recipe yields about 18 cupcakes.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla, then beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the mashed banana. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the buttermilk until combined. Do not overmix. Tip: remove bowl from mixer and whisk a few times by hand to make sure there are flour pockets at the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  6. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 confectioners' sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (this will make it easier to pipe).
  7. Frost cooled cupcakes however you'd like. I like to use a large piping tip (Wilton 2A is good) but get creative! Top with salted caramel and/or a banana chip, if desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  8. Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Tip from SBA
  1. *Why room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information. If needed, you can use whole milk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice instead of buttermilk.
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Little Bits Bakery http://littlebitsbakery.com/
Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Little Bits Bakery. 

Homemade Applesauce

I know that February isn’t officially “apple season”, but I’m a rebel and had a bunch of apples that I forgot about in my fridge. This Homemade Applesauce recipe is so versatile – you can make it for a quick and sweet breakfast, or an afternoon snack, or even to put on the side of some potato pancakes with dinner. It’s one of those “dump everything and forget about it” recipes that makes you feel like you are Martha Stewart while actually just being a great way to get rid of slightly over-ripe fruit. It also is really adaptable, so you can double or triple the recipe for a holiday or par it down for just you and your boo (or babies, they love this stuff). 

Here’s what you need:

  • Zest and juice of 2 large navel oranges
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 pounds Granny Smith apples (6 to 8 apples)
  • 3 pounds sweet red apples, such as Macoun, McIntosh, or Winesap (6 to 8 apples)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples and toss them in the juice. Pour the mixture into a dutch oven or large oven-safe pot. This one is bomb diggity. 

Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and allspice and cover. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until all the apples are soft. Mix with a whisk until smooth. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Enjoy having your kitchen smell like heaven. 

xoxo 

Elizabeth 

Follow me on Instagram and tag #littlebitsbakery so I can see all the recipes you make. ♥

Homemade Applesauce
Yields 6
Homemade Applesauce, good for the soul
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. Zest and juice of 2 large navel oranges
  2. Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  3. 3 pounds Granny Smith apples (6 to 8 apples)
  4. 3 pounds sweet red apples, such as Macoun, McIntosh, or Winesap (6 to 8 apples)
  5. 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  6. 1/4 pound unsalted butter
  7. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl.
  3. Peel, quarter, and core the apples and toss them in the juice.
  4. Pour the apples and juice into a nonreactive Dutch oven or enameled iron pot.
  5. Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and allspice and cover the pot.
  6. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until all the apples are soft.
  7. Mix with a whisk until smooth. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes
  1. You can adjust this recipe easily by changing the amount of fruit you use, and increase/decrease the other ingredients accordingly.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Adapted from Ina Garten
Little Bits Bakery http://littlebitsbakery.com/
Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Little Bits Bakery. 

Cookbook Collection

 

I love books. All books. Every book. Fiction, non-fiction, mystery, biographies, and yes, cookbooks. 

Being the OCD planner that I am, I usually spend at least an hour or so every weekend coming up with ideas for the upcoming week’s meals. While pinterest and instagram have made menu-planning online insanely easy, there’s just something really rewarding about flipping through a cookbook until you found the perfect recipe. 

There are a million great cookbooks out there, from the super basic, to the super specific. I try to keep my collection really well rounded, with cookbooks on family style meals, plant-based diets, easy one-pot-wonders, and ethnic cuisines. However, I realized last week a major gap in my collection: baking cookbooks.

Enter, amazon prime and the following:

1. The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook A James Beard Award Winner. 

In the short amount of days since this baby arrived, it has become my bible. Not only is it filled with a wide variety of baking recipes – everything from muffins and pastries to sourdoughs and popovers – but it lays such a strong foundation of knowledge that you come away with so much more than just a delicious breakfast item. 

Within the context of each chapter, it lays out the main components you’ll encounter (i.e. flour), and breaks it down to the smallest details, such as the different types of wheat berries, which are best for which types of breads, and how to adjust your recipes accordingly. It also gets into the actually chemistry of baking (god help me and my C+ in sophmore year chem…), such as why certain ingredients react with others and how that reaction impacts the final product.

It also includes historical background on ingredients and recipes (did you know that doughnuts were made in Europe as a way to use up all of the rich food in the house before the start of lent?) which is not only interesting, but basically prepares you to be the queen of small talk at your next cocktail party. 

2. The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book

Similar to above, the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book is an awesome place to develop foundation knowledge of baking. What I love about it most, is that each recipe has been kitchen-tested so thoroughly that you literally could not mess them up if you tried (challenge accepted).

Without getting quite so technical as King Arthur, this book explains why the recipe is foolproof (see: “Why This Recipe Works” at the top of each recipe), and what they did in the recipe to make it that way (i.e. choosing cake flour over wheat flour). 

With easy to follow directions and drawing representations of the proper approach, you’ll be whipping up their German Chocolate Cake in no time (page 301 – do it). 

and last but not least…

3. Bouchon Bakery

Okay I’ll be honest, I didn’t really need this one. Total impulse buy. Regrets? Zero. 

It is basically a Parisian bakery in 400 pages. 

Filled with delicacies like Dulce de Leche Eclairs and Tropezienne (no, I didn’t know what that was either), it’s recipes have the ability to make you feel incredibly fancy, while somehow seeming completely attainable.  

It is a beautiful book filled with beautiful recipes and I regret nothing. 

So with this major gap in my bookshelf filled, I am exciting for this upcoming Sunday when I’ll sit at my counter, coffee in hand, and pick out my first recipes to try!

Do you have any other recommendations for must have cookbooks? If so, let me know!  

XoXo

Elizabeth 

 

Follow me on Instagram and tag #littlebitsbakery so I can see all the recipes you make. ♥

 Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Little Bits Bakery. 

Honey Skillet Corn Bread!

Hello 2018!

Today marks my first official posting on Little Bits Bakery. There is something a little serendipitous about the way this has all come together on January 1st. It was only about a week ago that I was sitting on my parent’s couch, a bottle of cabernet sauvignon deep, discussing the possibility of putting pen to digital paper and beginning a baking blog. Seven days of wordpress confusion (widgets are confusing AF let me tell you) and GoDaddy tech support emails and here we are!

I’ve always been an avid baker. My christmas list from the time I was 12 consisted of William Sonoma baking pans and apple peelers (yes, I was THAT cool), and I can still remember attempting to make my first creme brûlée without a browning torch because I was too young to handle such lethal appliances (p.s it was very over-ambitious and we all at popsicles for dessert that night).

I love to cook as well, but there is something about the exact recipes and precise measurements of baking that really speaks to my type-A organizational freak personality.

After years of fan-girling over other baking blogs I’m taking the plunge to accomplish the following:

1. Become a better baker. 

I don’t want to just follow recipes line-by-line. I want to actually understand the science and mechanisms behind different ingredients and how they impact the final product.

2. Put my own twists on recipes.
In the pursuit of goal #1, I want to gain enough foundational knowledge to take some liberties with existing recipes and create some unique Little Bits Bakery originals. Who knows, maybe the next cronut is out there waiting to be discovered by me!

3. Get some new baking buddies.
Something that has already blown my mind about this cooking/baking/blogging community is how transparent and accessible it is. Behind all of those gorgeous instagram photos are real people with their own lives and perspectives and stories who are completely willing to engage. I’m hoping by connecting with as many of them as possible I’ll not only learn from the best, but also become part of this cookie filled community.

So, in order to show that I’m not all talk and no bake, here is my first official post of 2018. A cast-iron skillet baked corn bread that I boldly smothered in salted honey butter, and ate alongside a rich Beef Bourguignon (um, can we take a moment to acknowledge the awesomeness of slow cookers? How am I this late the party?).

XoXo,

Elizabeth

Follow me on Instagram and tag #littlebitsbakery so I can see all the recipes you make. ♥

Honey Skillet Corn Bread
Yields 1
A super light and airy corn bread that makes the perfect addition to hearty soups and stews.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter
  2. 1/3 cup (75g) honey
  3. 1 large egg, at room temperature
  4. 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  5. 1 cup (120g) cornmeal
  6. 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  10. 1 cup (175g) corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)
Instructions
  1. While constantly whisking, melt butter over low heat in your skillet. Pour butter into a medium bowl and allow to cool down for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
  3. Whisk the honey, egg, and buttermilk into the melted butter. Set aside.
  4. In a separate larger bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Fold in the corn. Avoid overmixing.
  5. Skillet should still be hot, but if not-- heat the stove on low and warm it up for a minute or two. You want a hot skillet.
  6. Pour batter into hot skillet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges and top are golden brown and the center is cooked through. Use a toothpick to test to check. Allow to slightly cool before slicing and serving. Serve cornbread with butter, honey, honey butter, or jam.
  7. Wrap leftovers up tightly and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Notes
  1. 1. If you would prefer not to use buttermilk, whole milk is perfectly fine!
  2. 2. If using frozen or canned corn, be sure to thaw and drain well!
Adapted from Sallys' Baking Addiction
Little Bits Bakery http://littlebitsbakery.com/
Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Little Bits Bakery. 

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