Summertime Peach Bars

Fresh peaches are one of summer’s many delights. From golden sunlit fields of sweet corn to colorful floral blooms, to vine ripened veggies and fresh summer fruits, peaches are right up there on the list of seasonal favorites from summer’s coveted bounty.

Peach bars are a fantastic way to enjoy this sweet fruit at its finest. My recipe for delicious peach bars call for a generous layer of peaches atop a half inch of butter cookie crust, topped off with a butter crumb topping. They are perfect for a grab and go breakfast, afternoon tea, or a dessert option served with fresh whip or vanilla ice cream. I could certainly eat these morning, noon and night, they are so good! I prefer enjoying them straight from the fridge, forks are optional.

For this recipe you’ll want to use freshly ripened peaches. I recommend purchasing peaches ahead of time and planning to make these bars once peaches have ripened. When you touch the peaches you know they are ripe when they give in just slightly as you gently press against the skin with your thumb.

Bake/Prep Time: ~1 hr and 20 minutes total (~30 minutes prep; 50 minute bake time)

Quantity: ~12 squares (using a 9×13 baking pan)

Author: Mindi Cunningham | sweet basil & lemon

Ingredients:

Peach Filling:

7 medium-large peaches (peeled and sliced thinly*see notes below)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

5 Tbsp corn starch

Butter Crust and Crumb Topping:

1 cup granulated sugar

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp sea salt

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup unsalted butter (chilled and cut into small cubes)

2 eggs

Instructions:

*Notes: The easiest way to remove peach skins while preserving as much fruit as possible, is to carefully drop the peaches into boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove peaches after 20 seconds with a slotted spoon and place into a large bowl of ice water. Let peaches cool for 30 secs. Using fingers, remove the skins as they should easily peel right off. Cut peaches into thin slices and place into a medium sized bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil to prevent sticking.

Next add the cornstarch, lemon juice and sugar to the sliced peaches. Use a small spatula or wooden spoon to gently mix the added ingredients with the peaches. Once blended, set aside.

Let’s make the butter crust and crumb topping. Whisk together all the dry ingredients: the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Then combine eggs, vanilla extract and butter. I prefer to mix in the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon, then with clean hands, I break down the cubes of butter blending them into the mixture using my fingertips.

Once mixture has formed a crumb like texture, take about two-thirds of the dough and press into the greased parchment lined baking pan. Use fingertips to press the dough down evenly to form the cookie crust. Crust should be about a half inch in thickness.

Using a slotted spoon, portion the peaches evenly and generously atop the layer of butter crust. Avoid transferring excess juice from the sliced peaches to the baking pan. Next sprinkle the remaining third of the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the peaches.

Bake peach bars at 350 degrees for ~45-50 minutes on the top rack. When the crumb topping starts to turn a golden brown and the crumb mixture hardens on top the bars will be ready to remove from the oven.

Let the bars cool down for 15 minutes in the pan, then remove the bars while in parchment paper and allow the bars to cool thoroughly on a baking rack before slicing. Store sliced squares in refrigerator for optimal freshness. Eat chilled, or pop in microwave for 20 seconds before adding fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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