I love a good fruit bar, but I was in the mood for something a bit less sweet than what I find in the stores. These are great in the morning as a quick breakfast or when mealtime is far off in the distance and you need a little something to keep you going without all the guilt that goes with the foods we often grab when hungry and short on time.
Not Too Sweet Fruit Bars (makes 18 two-inch bars)
1-1/4 cups (300ml) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (120ml) wheat bran
1/2 cup (120ml) wheat germ
1/4 cup nut meal or toasted chopped nuts of your choice (optional)
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1.25ml) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (1.25ml) salt
1/3 cup (80ml) buttermilk*
1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. (15ml) molasses
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla
6 oz. (180ml/170g) unsweetened preserves
Nut meal, nuts or wheat germ for topping
*Buttermilk rarely comes in a container less than one quart. I freeze the remainder in ice cube trays and thaw it out as needed. OR… you can make a quick substitute with regular milk and lemon juice or vinegar. Use 1 cup (240ml) milk plus 1 tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice or vinegar. For this recipe 1/3 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon (5ml) juice/vinegar.
Preheat the oven to 350F/175C degrees.
Whisk together the flour, bran, germ, nut meal, baking powder, soda and salt.
Lightly beat the egg. Whisk together the egg, milk, oil, molasses and vanilla until thoroughly blended–especially the molasses.
Mix the dry ingredients together with the wet until just combined.
The dough will be moist but it’s not too sticky to work with.
Divide the dough in two. On a piece of wax paper or parchment, roll one piece of the dough into a 6 by 12 rectangle–or as close as you can get to that size. Because the dough is so soft, you can press the edges with your ever so clean and freshly washed hands to nudge it into shape as you roll it. Transfer the dough and parchment to a baking sheet.
Spread the preserves in a thick layer over the dough taking it all the way to the edges.
Repeat rolling out the other piece of dough on another piece of wax paper or parchment. Carefully flip the dough over the preserves and peel off the paper.
Sprinkle a few tablespoons of nut meal, nuts or wheat germ over the top of the dough. Run a rolling pin lightly over the top to push the topping into the dough.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and firm. Cool on the baking sheet.
Using a sharp knife–I think a serrated bread knife works best–trim the edges and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container. They should keep for a few days at room temperature or up to a week refrigerated.