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Peach Crumble Bars

  So!  I'm just getting over a case of the flops.  I've mentioned them before, and you can be sure they'll come up again. 

  I'm human, I like to experiment, I get distracted, and I have little to do right now except create stacks of dirty dishes.

  In short, these peach bars were the first "blog-worthy" thing I've made in something like a week.  I had all these lovely posts that I was doing ahead of time, but every single one flopped.  Somehow, in someway, they just did not work out.

  It started with a lemon cake that sunk in the middle.  And I mean major sink-age.  My mom loved it, and I glopped on some glaze, but it just didn't make the cut.  I shrugged it off.

  Then, on Monday, I decided to try a fun cookie idea.  I can only say that they would've been brilliant, if I hadn't done the stupidest thing in the book that I constantly caution against.  I over-baked them.  I over-baked those poor, unsuspecting cookies.

  Then came the meringues and coffee cake.  The coffee cake was tedious, requiring much chilling and rising and had several components.  While it chilled, I whipped together those danged cookies that I over-baked.  The whole process of making coffee cake and cookies resulted in a much-used mixer with a bowl and paddle that I hand washed about four times.

  I bit my tongue, washed the mixer bowl (again), and threw together my favorite meringues.  They were gorgeous, and just begging for a photo shoot.  I shut the turned-off oven on them to let them dry overnight, satisified that I had something to work with.

  The next morning I was blindly putting together a baked oatmeal before school, and cranked up the oven still holding yesterday's meringues.  I didn't realize this until I opened up the door to stick in the oatmeal, and in my surprise I sloshed a good chunk of oat mixture onto the floor.  The meringues were, needless to say, ruined.

  The coffee cake was my last hope.  After taking some good pics of shaping the dough, I came to the part that said you had to coil the darn thing.  By that time, the humid day had taken any chill the dough once had and reduced it to a sticky mass that refused to conform to any twisting.  I tried.  I did "quick" 2-hour chill and started over.  Nothing doing.

  With very little sleep the night before, I was near tears as I mercilessly twisted it into a not-very-pretty-but-at-least-edible shape.  The thing turned out delicious, I'll admit, but it was less than pleasing to the eye and I didn't have good instructions.  So it also got nixed.

  For some reason I had it in my head that I needed to post something this week.  I started clicking like mad through my pinterest boards and google reader, trying to find something, anything that could be whipped up and baked within the hour, before the risen coffee cake would have to go into the oven.

  I didn't find anything to work with, except these peach bars.  Thing is, I had thrown out my last lemon that morning, since it was going bad and I was getting sick of the fruit flies we've been steadily accumulating.

  Finally, I sat back in my chair, and told myself that I couldn't possibly get anything baked and photographed in that amount time.  And that was ok. 

  That night, I went to the store and bought a lemon.  I made myself a nourishing and head-clearing soup, and went back to the basics.  Today, I made you peach bars.  Simple, tasty, glorious peach bars.

  The flops, they can get you down...but you don't have to let them beat you.

Peach Crumble Bars
Yield: one 9x13 pan (about 18 bars)

  • 1½ cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 16 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 4-5 cups peeled, pitted, & chopped peaches (about 4-5 peaches)*
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

*If you don't mind a bit of peach peel in your dessert, skip peeling the peaches.  Just prick the whole peaches all over with a fork before cutting them up, and know that the peel may add a bit of a rosy tinge to your finished product.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Grease a 9 x 13″ pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, baking powder, flour, salt, and lemon zest.  Stir together with a fork until well combined.  Add the cold butter to the mixture and quickly rub into the flour using your fingers; do this until the mixture resembles a coarse meal and the biggest butter bits are no larger than peas.  Add the egg and stir together with the fork.  The mixture should be crumbly without much loose flour.  Spread about half of the dough mixture in an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan and press down firmly to form the bottom crust (I used the bottom of large glass to achieve a good uniformity.).

In another medium bowl, stir together the remaining sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and nutmeg.  Gently mix in the peaches with a rubber spatula until combined.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the peaches from the juicy mixture and spread evenly over the bottom crust.  Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the peaches.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is slightly golden brown.  Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Sources: adapted from Annie's Eats, who adapted it from Smitten Kitchen