Mixed Berry Oatmeal Bars


As a teacher, January is a busy month. With one semester coming to an end and the second semester beginning, the workload feels like it doubles, and my intentions for the new year are put to an honest test. When I finally do get home for the evening, I sink into the couch and settle in for a night in front of the television. It turns out the tension and stress of high school finals week can be hard to shake off—even for a teacher.

As my personal history has shown, when hunger strikes during these busy times I tend to choose the easiest (and often the least healthy) option—takeout and candy bars, anyone? For this reason, I have learned to prep a few dinners and snacks in advance. With flavor and convenience in mind, I have partnered with Dole Sunshine to #SharetheSunshine by bringing you a recipe for mixed berry oatmeal bars that will add a bright spot to your busy weekdays.


During winter months, I prefer to use frozen fruit in my baking because it provides consistent quality while maintaining a bright flavor. As an added bonus, using frozen fruit avoids the process of sorting, washing, and slicing that comes with fresh fruit, which is a real timesaver when you have a busy schedule. For these mixed berry oatmeal bars, I used a variety of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, but you could customize the bars to the berries of your choosing. 

In the oven, the berries bubble down into a sweet, fruity filling. Many of the larger berries partially hold their shape, delivering pockets of bright flavor throughout. The oatmeal crust bakes up soft and chewy, which provides a texture reminiscent of cereal bars. 

After these bars finished baking, I cut them into 2-inch squares and wrapped them up individually to toss into my lunchbox for an afternoon pick-me-up. The next couple weeks may be busy for me, but I'm ready for the challenge. 


Mixed Berry Oatmeal Bars are simple to make and bring out a bright fruit flavor. An oatmeal crust—made from oats, honey, and brown sugar—forms the base of the bars. Frozen berries are spread throughout the middle, which bubble into a sweet filling in the oven. The bars bake up chewy on the edges and stay soft in the middle, making for a quick and delicious snack on a busy weekday.

One Year Ago: Baked Lemon Poppyseed Doughnuts
Two Years Ago: Cacao Hot Chocolate 
Three Years Ago: Cranberry Orange Muffins & Pear Vanilla Sorbet
FourYears Ago: Double Chocolate Brownies & Pear Chocolate Scones
Five Years Ago:  Rosemary Sandwich BreadCranberry Flax MuffinsChocolate Ginger Cookies, & Vanilla Marshmallows
Six Years Ago: Cinnamon Sugar CakeVanilla Bean PuddingSoft Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Dark Chocolate Oatmeal
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Marbled Banana BreadCranberry Wine Spritzer, & Quick Chocolate Cake

Mixed Berry Oatmeal Bars

Yields 16 servings (or 8 x 8-inch pan)

Oatmeal Bars
6 tablespoons (100 grams) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/4 cup (85 grams) honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mixed Berry Filling
2 1/2 cups (12 ounces or 340 grams) Dole Frozen Mixed Berries
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8 x 8-inch pan.

For the oatmeal base, beat together the butter and brown sugar until uniform in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the egg, honey, and vanilla, mixing until blended. Stir in the oats, flours, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt. The batter will be slightly sticky. Using greased hands, press 2/3 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

For the mixed berry filling, cut down any large frozen berries to keep the fruit about the same size. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the frozen berries, sugar, and cornstarch.

Spread the berry mixture evenly over the top of the oatmeal bars. Crumble the remaining batter on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly in pan before serving.

This post is sponsored through a partnership with Dole Sunshine. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I am incredibly excited to be working with Dole Sunshine because of the excellent quality of their frozen & preserved fruits. Thank you for supporting Pastry Affair & my wonderful sponsors!

Berry Balsamic Pie

The weather in the upper Midwest has been particularly sporadic this year, bouncing back and forth between winter and summer temperatures. Mother Nature's indecision weighs heavily over us, as the forecast rises and plummets to her whims. I wore a heavy winter coat to an amusement park for the first time earlier this week. This field trip was planned nearly a month ago, when April weather was coming out of its winter slump.  Surely it will be warm at the end of May, I thought. Maybe I should pack sunscreen, just in case. I was so very wrong. 

With summer vacation only a week away, I hope Mother Nature gets her forecast in order. I have some sunbathing I need to do.

Late spring is easily my least favorite for produce. Summer has fresh berries and vegetables straight from the vine. Along with a lasting scent of cinnamon, autumn brings an abundance of crisp apples and pumpkin. Winter delivers citrus and pears to accompany bowls of hearty stews. Spring, however, appears to have nothing at all. Living as far north as I do, growing season has not arrived. The rhubarb is now awakening from its long nap, the strawberry plants have just been buried in the dirt, and so we must wait.

Frozen produce has become my salvation until the garden blooms.

Pie has been on repeat in my mind lately. Pie, pie, pie. I made three of them in the last week alone. More than anything else, I think I just wanted to play with the dough, to shape it in new ways, to go through the motions of creating something beautiful and delicious.  Though, having a slice here or there hasn't been a negative either.

With this particular pie, frozen berries are easier to use than fresh. Frozen berries have a consistent level of sweetness and, when thawed, release the right amount of juice to set into the perfect pie. To accompany the berry flavor, I used a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Strawberry and balsamic flavors are notoriously complementary and I find this effect carries over to berries as well. The balsamic flavor is faint (it is difficult to taste unless you are aware it is present), but it adds something special that the plain berries would not have otherwise.

Berry Balsamic Pie comes together quite easily. Since it uses frozen berries instead of fresh, the filling can be mixed together quickly. A little balsamic vinegar helps to round out the berries flavor. I used a combination of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries for this pie. If preferred, the lattice top is not necessary, so you could save yourself a bit of time if you are on a tight schedule. However, I prefer a little extra pie crust with my berries andI imagine that you do tooso I have suggested it is included.

Serve plain, with fresh whipped cream, or a side of vanilla ice cream.

One Year Ago: Roasted Strawberry Red Wine Popsicles
Two Years Ago: Nutella Swirled Banana Bread and Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Salted Almond Ice Cream, Rhubarb Ginger Muffins, Coconut Waffles, and Dark Cherry Fruit-on-the-Bottom Yogurt
Four Years Ago: Cornmeal Poppy Seed Crackers, Pina Colada Cupcakes, and Strawberry Smoothie

Berry Balsamic Pie

Yields 9-inch pie

double crust pie dough recipe
6 cups (850 grams) frozen mixed berries, thawed
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Milk, for brushing
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, gently stir together the thawed berries, sugar, flour, and balsamic vinegar until the berries are evenly coated. Set aside.

Form the pie dough into a disk and divide it into a 60/40 ratio (if using store-bought crust, do not worry about this step). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger section of dough into a 14-inch round circle. Carefully transfer it to a 9-inch pie pan and trim the excess pie dough to create a 1-inch overhang. Tuck the dough overhang under itself and pinch the dough between your thumb and forefinger to make a decorative edge around the rim. Fill the pie crust with the berry mixture.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the smaller section of pie dough. Using a pizza cutter and a ruler, cut out 3/4-inch wide strips of dough. Layer the strips over the top of the pie in a decorative fashion. Trim and tuck the edges of the strips into the pie mixture itself. 

Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle granulated sugar over the crust. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Then, lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and continue baking. Cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent further browning. Bake an additional 50-65 minutes, or until the lattice and crust are evenly browned.

For perfect slices, cool for at least 3-5 hours (or overnight). Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Blackberry Coconut Scones


In my early days of baking, there was a steep learning curve to overcome. A combination of inexperience and failure to read the directions caused many items to go straight from the oven and into the trash. It was the scones, however, that left me dumbfounded. Pan after pan came out dry or bitter or flavorless; they were inedible, in every possible way. It was almost absurd that I was not able to recreate this simple pastry in my own kitchen. I say almost because nothing is laughable about throwing that much butter in the bin.

It wasn't until I got a job in a bakeryand was tasked with baking dozens of scones on a daily basisthat I found my knack for this particular pastry.

In truth, scones are no more difficult to create than a biscuit. Fat is cut into flour, liquid is added to bring it together, and the servings are cut from the dough. Perhaps it was a lack of confidence that held me back long ago, but now I feel I could create a scone with my eyes closed, even years after working behind the pastry case. 

Blackberries are often discounted at my local market. Emerging from my winter cocoon, these berries feel like a bite of spring; I fill my basket each time I spot the red sale sign. With an excess of berries last Sunday, I added them to a basic coconut oil scone recipe to create a complement to brunch. Coconut oil has quickly become my favorite fat for scones because it results in a tender, delicate crumb. These (vegan!) scones may be simple, but the taste is lovely.

Blackberry Coconut Scones combine the fresh berry with coconut in three of its formscoconut milk, coconut oil, and coconut flakes. The result is a tender, flaky scone that foils the tart berry against the sweetness of the pastry. A light coconut glaze is drizzled over the top for an extra touch. While it could be omitted, I find it worth the extra effort.

One Year Ago:  Peanut Butter Chocolate Frosted Cake and Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread
Two Years Ago: Lemon Pudding Cake, Grapefruit Margaritas,  Chocolate Oatmeal Flaxseed Muffins, and Chocolate Chip Raisin Oatmeal Cookies
Three Years Ago: Cinnamon Sugar Muffins, Basic Caramel Sauce, Rum Raisin Ice Cream, and Butternut Squash & Spinach Tart
Four Years Ago: Yeasted Chocolate Coffee Cake, Meyer Lemon Curd, Lemon Chocolate Tart, and Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies

Coconut Scones with Coconut Glaze

Yields 6-8 scones

Blackberry Coconut Scones 
1  1/2 cups (187 grams) all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup (56 grams) granulated sugar 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/3 cup coconut oil (solid state) 
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes 
6 ounces (170 grams) fresh blackberries
3/4 cup (175 ml) coconut milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the solid coconut oil with a pastry blender (or your fingers) until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Gently fold in the coconut flakes, fresh blackberries, and coconut milk until the mixture comes together.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a disk roughly 1-inch thick. Cut the dough into 6-8 pie shaped wedges and move to a baking sheet. For extra sweetness, sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of the scones. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the edges take on a light color. Allow scones to cool completely before glazing.

Coconut Glaze 
1/2 cup (62 grams) powdered sugar 
1 tablespoon coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients. Using a spoon, drizzle glaze over cooled scones. Allow at least 15 minutes for the glaze to set before serving.