Blackberry Pie Bars Recipe
This Blackberry Danish Bar recipe is a keeper!
I’m not usually a big fan of berry desserts and pies, but I love these Danish pie bars! Of course, the crust is my favorite part. It is flaky and tender, yet thick enough that you can eat the bars with your hands. No fork necessary. Basically, the sweet berry filling and tender, flaky crust are magical together. Yum!
My mom brought these bars to a holiday gathering a little while ago and I fell in love. She got the recipe from a lady that she went to church with years ago. I don’t know the original source, but I can tell that it is probably an older recipe from the way that it was written. 😉
The crust is flour, salt, shortening, butter, egg yolk, and milk. The original recipe actually called for 1 cup shortening, but my mom and I like doing half butter and half shortening. We like butter. 😉
There it is all nicely cut in with the pastry blender! I mix until it is mostly like cornmeal, but also has several pea-sized and smaller chunks in there (as pictured above).
In the recipe ingredients, it says 2/3 cup milk, but note that you will actually need a little less. You add milk to an egg yolk to equal 2/3 cup all together. Trust me, it works. Remember to save the egg white to brush over the crust before baking!
The crust is pretty sticky, so you may want to oil or flour your rolling pin. Rolling it out on a pastry mat or silicone baking mat is a good idea too. I find it is easier to roll the bottom crust a little smaller than the 9×13, then transfer to pan and gently press it out the rest of the way. You can also use the pie crust trick where you roll it out, then loosely roll it up onto the rolling pin. Transfer over to the pan and carefully unroll it off the pin and into the pan. 🙂
Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar depending on the sweetness of the berries. When they are in season, they are sweeter. I think 2/3 cup sugar is usually about right for me with fresh berries in the late spring and summer. Three 6-ounce containers of fresh blackberries are pretty much the perfect amount for this recipe. My mom says she has used frozen berries with success as well though!
The lemon zest is optional, but I think it adds a nice dimension of flavor.
P.S. The original recipe (Danish Apple Bars) uses an apple filling, which I included in the recipe notes. I haven’t actually tried it that way before, but it sounds delicious too.
The crushed cornflakes threw me for a loop because I had never heard of doing such a thing, but my mom says that it helps keep the bottom crust from getting soggy. Feel free to try the recipe without cornflakes if you want and let me know how it goes.
P.S. You can use any type of crushed bland cereal in this recipe, but I have only tried it with cornflakes so far.
Once you get that top crust on there, you may need to do a little bit of pinching crust cracks together or transferring overhanging pieces to empty spots or whatever. It doesn’t need to be perfect though! Maybe you’re much better at rolling out pie crust than I am and none of that will even apply to you. I bet this mat would be helpful for me!
One time I made the mistake of pouring the glaze on while the bars were still too warm and the glaze kinda bubbled up and didn’t look as pretty. So now I wait until the bars have had time to cool a bit before I add the glaze. 🙂
The edges may end up looking a bit scraggly, so I trim a very small bit off each side to even them out so it looks nicer. Plus, I get to eat the trimmings.
The foil sling is optional. I like using foil to line the pan for most bar recipes because it is easy to remove them from the pan for cutting and serving. Another thing I like to use for easy cutting of bars is a rocker blade pizza cutter! Yes!
Blackberry Pie Bars Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 egg, separated
- 2/3 cup milk (actually a little less)
- 1/2 cup cornflakes cereal, crushed
- 3 to 4 cups blackberries
- 2/3 cup sugar (more or less depending on sweetness of berries)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon zest (optional)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon water or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with foil, overhanging on the ends so you can easily lift to remove the bars from the pan. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.
- Add the flour, salt, shortening, and butter to a large bowl and mix with a pastry blender until it looks like cornmeal with pea-sized and smaller pieces.
- Place the egg yolk in a small liquid measuring cup and lightly beat with a fork. Then add milk to the mixture until it reaches 2/3 cup. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture.
- Divide the dough into two equal portions. Lightly cover one portion with plastic wrap or other so it doesn't dry out, then roll out the other portion until it is close to 9x13 size or a little smaller. Carefully place the rolled out dough into the prepared pan as the bottom crust, gently press it out to cover the bottom of the pan, if needed. Spread crushed cornflakes over the bottom crust.
- In a medium bowl, gently stir together the blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest (if using). Pour the berry mixture into the pan and spread on top of the cornflakes and crust.
- Roll out the other portion of dough to 9x13 size and place in the pan over the berries. Lightly beat the egg white, then brush over the top crust.
- Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, water or milk, and vanilla for the glaze. Pour the glaze over the bars after the bars have cooled a bit. Serve warm, at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve cold.
Apple Version: In place of the berry filling, spread 3 apples (peeled and sliced) over the crust. Then sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.