A recipe for fresh-picked blackberries that's easier than pie

Blackberries really level the playing field, don't they? To enjoy them, you don't have to be a gardener, patiently investing time in plucking and mulching and tweaking. You don't have to have inherited beautiful old fruit trees on a gorgeous hillside property. There are no pests to outcompete or outmaneuver. Blackberries are free, right there by the side of the road for all of us to pick and enjoy. We may have to endure the scratches and wash out the bugs, but we can have as many as we want and pick until we can't pick any more.

This easy blackberry recipe might just persuade you to turn on the oven on a hot day.  The cleverness of it is that you essentially just put together one dry mix, divide it, and use it for the bottom crust and top crumble.  Fresh blackberries lay in the middle and voila — easier than pie. (Way easier.)

You can use a food processor to make the base mix — which certainly makes the prep even faster. If an appliance is too fussy or unavailable, you can also mix it up by hand. See below for both of the methods and pick which suits the moment. There are many variations on this recipe, but I prefer to use a flour with a little more depth of flavor. I have long had a baking crush on barley flour so I suggest it here. Sub in all-purpose if that's what you have on hand, and it'll work just fine with no adjustments to the other amounts needed.

These blackberry bars are an opportunity to take advantage of a Pacific Northwest bounty.

Blackberry bars


Base mix:

1 3/4 cups barley flour

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes

For bottom crust:

4-5 tablespoons cold water

For crumble topping:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup whole toasted almonds, chopped fine

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Fresh blackberries (about 4 cups)


1. Pick, wash and lay the berries out to dry on a dishtowel that you don't care about staining.

2. Line an 8x8-inch square baking dish with parchment or butter well.

3. Preheat oven to 375F.

4. Toast almonds in the hot oven for about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool.

5. With a food processor on pulse, mix flour, salt and butter to create crumbs. If using your hands, whisk the dry ingredients and then squeeze and crumble in the butter with your hands.

6. Divide the crumbs into two bowls evenly, about 1 1/2 cups in each.

For the bottom crust:

1. Mix 4-5 tablespoons of cold water into the crumb mixture with a fork. Use hands to finish blending and break up clumps. Sprinkle evenly into the prepared pan. With damp fingers press down, creating an even layer with a little bit of edge crust. Refrigerate for at least a half-hour.

For the top crumb:

1. Chop cooled almonds coarsely or use a food processor on pulse. Mix the chopped almonds into the remaining bowl. Add sugar. Pinch and squish into crumbs with your fingers.

To assemble:

Anne Willhoit

1. Pour fresh berries on top of the chilled crust. Sprinkle on the crumb nut mixture. Pat down gently.

2. Bake at 375F for 40-50 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool the rest of the way on a rack before slicing.

3. Finish with powdered sugar, a light glaze (1 cup powdered sugar plus 1/4 teaspoon vanilla plus 1 tablespoon. milk or cream), or nothing at all.

Anne Willhoit is an educator, community volunteer, and enthusiastic baker who likes to create recipes that use from-scratch techniques and are inspired by local, seasonal ingredients. Find her on Instagram at @aawillhoit or drop her an inquiry at FromScratchKS@gmail.com.  

This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Blackberry recipe easier than pie: Fresh fruit the star in tasty bars