Peaches, not unlike other foods, have been known to loom rather large in our vocabulary. To wit: "She's just a peach of a gal" . . . or . . . "What?! The plumber's not coming until tomorrow?? Oh great. That's just peachy." And, not uncommonly, "The bridesmaids wore the absolute loveliest shade of peach."
Some believe there's a Chinese proverb that confirms our fondness for the fruit's consummate deliciousness: "Rather one bite of a peach than eat a basketful of apricots." That's saying a lot as apricots, too, can be quite tasty, and are certainly adorable in and of themselves. The late novelist W. Somerset Maugham is reported to have remarked, "In Hollywood, the women are all peaches. It makes one long for an apple occasionally." And what about this charming comment, from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "It is the soundness of the bones that ultimates itself in the peach-bloom complexion." (Leave it to Ralph to make "ultimate" into a verb . . . that guy was one of a kind.)
The peach's worthiness thus reiterated, we once again express deep and undying affection through our humble and heartfelt culinary efforts--Peachy Oatmeal Bars. Simple though they are, the forte of peachy oatmeal bars is that they make the most of the ripe fruit's flavor without disguising it amidst too much sweetness. Best eaten the day they're made, they are still delicious the second day, especially if they've been refrigerated. Because they're not too rich at all, they make a nice breakfast treat. Then again, if it's dessert you're after, they go smashingly well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
(Look, below, at that half-peeled peach . . . it's just been blanched . . . the colors are just so pretty, don't you think?)
Peachy Oatmeal Bars
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9" by 13" pan.
For the crust and topping:
1 cup All Purpose flour (bleached or unbleached, either is fine)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 and 1/2 cups quick oats
2 Tbsp. orange juice
For the filling:
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Tbsp. AP flour
1/8 tsp. salt
3 and 1/2 cups of fresh, ripe, chopped peaches
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
* * * *
To prepare the crust and topping, place the flour, brown sugar, and salt in the large bowl of a food processor, and pulse a couple of times just to combine.
Add the butter cubes and pulse about six times to form coarse crumbs.
Add in the oats and pulse three more times. Remove 1 and 1/2 cups of this mixture and set it aside (this is the portion that will be used for your topping).
Add the orange juice to the remaining oat mixture in the food processor bowl and pulse four times, just to moisten.
Pour the mixture into your greased pan, spread it out and press it down firmly and evenly to form the crust.
To prepare the filling, in a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, flour, and salt. Add in the peach chunks and lemon juice.
Toss gently until the fruit's coated. Spread the filling out evenly over the crust.
Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture evenly over the top of the fruit. Don't pat it down.
Bake until the top begins to get golden, about 35 minutes or so.
Cool the pan on a rack (it'll take a couple of hours to cool completely). Cut the bars when cool. If they're not going to be all eaten up the first day, store them, well covered, in the fridge.
Recipe full disclosure! This recipe was adapted from one published in Family Fun magazine earlier this summer. The original recipe was called "Oatmeal Berry Breakfast Bars." I changed the recipe by using only light brown sugar, using peaches instead of raspberries, by adding slightly more salt to the filling, and by rewording the instructions.
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