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Blueberry-Cornmeal Crumb Squares
From Mom's Big Book of Baking, by Lauren Chattman

This is such a wonderful recipe a layer of fresh blueberries between a cornmeal-and-almond crust and crunchy crumbs. It's also pretty simple. The dough is divided in half, one part used for the crust and the other part for the topping. Other fresh fruit may be substituted raspberries, halved strawberries, diced peaches, plums, or apples. Just don't forget the cornstarch; it's what jells the filling and keeps the bars from getting soggy. These are best eaten the day they are made, although they will keep overnight. Longer than that and they lose their crunch.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

1 pint fresh blueberries, picked over for stems, or 1 pint frozen blueberries, thawed and patted dry with paper towels
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the crust and crumb:

3/4 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Line an 8-inch square baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure that the foil is tucked into all the corners and that there is at least 1 inch overhanging the top of the pan on all sides.

2. Make the filling: Combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, and cornstarch in a medium mixing bowl. Let the mixture stand, stirring once or twice, until the sugar is dissolved.

3. Make the crust and crumb: Grind the almonds coarsely in a food processor. Be careful not to overprocess, or the almonds will release their oil. Add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, and salt and pulse once or twice to combine. Add the melted butter and pulse once or twice until all the ingredients are moistened.

4. Sprinkle half of the mixture across the bottom of the prepared baking pan and press it with your fingertips into an even layer. Place the other half of the mixture in the freezer for 5 minutes. Spread the filling evenly across the crust. Scatter the remaining crumb mixture over the blueberries, squeezing it into pea-size crumbs as you do so. Bake until the berries are bubbling and the top is golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the pan cool completely on a wire rack.

5. Grasping the overhanging foil on either side of the pan, lift out the crumb bars and place them on a cutting board. Cut 16 squares.

Yield: Makes 16 bars

Note: Blueberry-Cornmeal Crumb Squares are best the day they are made, but they will keep for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

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