I love a good crumble bar, especially when the base and topping are spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and nestled in the center is a tangy plum filling. The combination of sweet, tart, and spices makes for the perfect fall treat, but I feel that the plum season often passes without any of the fan-fair that other fruits get.
At the beginning of spring our heads practically explode at the appearance of rhubarb. Omgrhubarb, rhubarb everything! It's deliciously tart but also exciting because it signals end of winter and the beginning of the spring and summer harvest.
But when the weather starts getting chilly we either cling to the berries in a desperate attempt to hold onto summer (I am completely guilty of this) or we rush forward to embrace Fall crying "Pumpkin! Pumpkin EVERYTHING"
But wait! What about plums? Don't ignore these beautiful tart-and-sweet stone fruits! There's a ton of varieties to choose from plus they arrive at the perfect time when the weather is finally cool enough to justify baking a cake or crumble.
These crumble bars use a combination of italian plums and black plums. The italian ones -often labeled as prune plums - are small, tart, hold their shape when baked, and pack a ton of flavor. The black plums are juicy and sweet and bake down into a sweet plumy sauce. I love using them together because the two flavors compliment each other so nicely.
Plus, look how pretty they are together with the mini light green slices and the yellow black plum slices. Plums just want us to bake with them and tell them that they're as important as peaches.
To show these plums that I think they're special (I feel like they have a complex about these sorts of things) I broke out the good butter to use for the bar's base and topping. I've recently been converted to Stirling Artisan Butter and I love playing around with their Churn 84 which has 84% butter fat. You can definitely use normal butter for this recipe, but I love the extra butteriness that it adds.
The bar's base is similar to a shortbread and is mixed together until crumbly then pressed into a 9x13 pan and layered with plums that have been tossed with a bit of sugar and cornstarch. Then the remaining crumble is spread on top and they take a trip to the oven until they're bubbling and golden.
Next you have the agonizing wait for them to cool before you can slice and eat them. I'm a huge hypocrite because I'm telling you to wait until they're completely cool when I personally start picking at them the moment that they get out of the oven. I'm all "I'll just eat this one piece of the topping that nobody will miss" and before I know it I've messed up a quarter of the batch by picking off the topping then trying to slice it to hide what I've done.
What's that saying? Do as I say, not as I do? Anyways, don't be like me. If you wait for them to cool you'll get nice clean slices, and the filling will have time to set and develop its flavors. They're even better on the second day when you tell yourself that since they have fruit in them they probably count as a nutritious breakfast.
So start filling up your baskets with plums, canned pumpkin is going to be here for a long time (thank god, because I love pumpkin) but you have nab these babies while they're still in season.
Plum Crumble Bars
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
pinch of ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chilled (not frozen) Stirling Churn 84 butter
3 1/2 - 4 cups thinly sliced plums - I use a combination of Italian prune plums and black plums. The more prune plums you use, the tarter your filling will be. This batch had roughly 2 1/2 black plums and the rest were prune plums
2 TBSP sugar
3 tsp cornstarch
1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 9 x 13 pan
2. Toss the plum slices with the sugar and cornstarch and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together the brown and white sugar, baking powder, flour, spices, and salt. Using a fork, pastry cutter, or your hands work the butter into the flour mixture until it becomes crumbly. Then stir in the egg.
4. Firmly press two thirds of the crumble mixture to the bottom of the 9 x 13 pan. Then evenly layer the plum slices on top. Sprinkle the remaining cumble on top and bake at 375 for 30 - 40 minutes until the topping has turned golden and the fruit is bubbling.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.