raspberry crumble tart bars

Written by | Food

Last month, Ruth Reichl, food writer extraordinaire and the last editor-in-chief of the now shuttered Gourmet magazine, rounded up her 10 favorite recipes from her magazine years for Epicurious. It’s possible I’ve never clicked on a link faster. I adored the magazine; in my early years here, it really helped me crystalize a vision of what I love in cooking and do not. I cooked so many of the recipes — and yet, almost none of these. A raspberry crumble tart by Ruth Cousineau in August 2006 (just weeks before I launched SK) in particular jumped off the page. Reichl writes:

From the first moment I tasted this tart, I knew I’d be serving it again and again. I love the simplicity of the recipe, which allows the fruit to shine. I love the way it looks—a gorgeous burst of vibrant color peeking out of a shaggy top. And I really appreciate that you can use the most insipid supermarket raspberries (they emerge from the heat of the oven with a surprising intensity of flavor).

People, I ended up making it three times this week. (It helped that my store’s insipid berries have been on sale.) Here is what’s cool about this recipe: there are only seven ingredients and two are salt and water, which don’t even count. The remaining ingredients — flour, butter, sugar, almonds, and fresh raspberries — are as basic as can be. There’s no sugar in the berries and no thickener, you don’t macerate them, and the end result is that they’re not runny so there’s no liquid to contain or to fret about sogging the bottom crust. You make a simple butter-flour mixture, divide it in half, and form half into a pie crust base. You don’t don’t even need to parbake it (birds are singing!), you simply fill it with a heap of fresh raspberries and cover them with an avalanche of a loose, sugary crumble (that you’ve made from the second half of the butter-flour mixture) and this bakes onto and into the berries, mingling with any juices that release, and crisping shaggily all over.

It’s not hard see why Ruth Reichl likes it so much. It tastes grown-up. Not goopy, not heavy, not too sweet or excessively tart (using very ripe berries helps; they’re sweeter). It celebrates raspberries in such an uncluttered way, I immediately made them two more times, including one that’s slab pie-sized. I have no idea what we’re doing this weekend yet, but I know they’re coming along.

I changed a bunch of things about the recipe, so if you’re loyal to the original, look away now. First, it’s created for what I consider an unusual tart pan size (11 1/4 by 8-inch), which I have, but that doesn’t help most other people. You could also make it in a 10-inch round but I liked the idea of turning these into bars, since they’re so much more picnic-and-potluck friendly. Below, I’m sharing a scaled-down recipe for an 8×8-inch pan (or a 9-inch round pan, if you want to serve it in wedges) and (update: added at the end!) a scaled-up recipe for 9×13-inch slab tart bars. Making tart-height walls (1-inch) in a taller cake pan is a little fussy, but totally doable, and this recipe is forgiving. There’s a general belief that if you don’t parbake a bottom crust, it will be soggy, but all three of mine are crisp underneath — and even more so when the tart cools before I cut it, thanks to the unheavy and unsoggy filling.

Last modified: May 30, 2019