If there is one recipe, more than any other, that reminds me of my mother, it’s her Jam Bar Recipe. It was a constant in our household growing up but at that time I didn’t pay it the attention it deserved. At that young age, when I thought of dessert, I thought of ‘chocolate’ – cake, brownies, cookies. However, when I started cooking for friends in my college years I turned to this recipe. And although it was an immediate hit with whomever I served it to – I soon came to love it too. *LOVE*. Now I always have some bars in the freezer; ready to serve at a moment’s notice (after defrosting them, that is:).
These are similar to a shortbread but richer and moister thanks to the addition of egg yolks. However, those eggs help to create a sticky batter. The easiest way to work with this type of batter is to run your hands under cold water, then shake the excess water off. You don’t want to get the batter ‘wet’ – just have your hands damp enough so the batter won’t stick.
I’ve made this recipe at least 100 times. And I have learned that the vast majority of tasters/recipients have preferred it baked to the point where the edges are just beginning to brown, as shown below. and the top of the bars have just a hint of browning. This gives them a very rich and moist crumb. However, if you prefer yours a little more browned and crisp, by all means cook them a few minutes longer. They will be delicious both ways!
Jam Bars (Makes one 9″ x 13″ pan)
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 large or extra large egg yolks, room temperature
- 4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 14 – 15 oz. of your favorite jam or preserves
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray*.
- Beat sugar and butter together until combined – do not over beat. (This is a dough, not batter, so you don’t want to beat the butter and sugar to a ‘light and fluffy stage)
- Add egg yolks until just combined. Then beat in flour until incorporated, a minute or two; do not over beat.
- Pat 1/2 of dough into the bottom of the baking pan. Because the dough is sticky it will be easiest to do if you wet your hands with cold water (then make sure to shake them to get any excess water off) and ‘pat’ pieces into place.
- Spread the jam over the bottom dough layer. The easiest way to do this is to first warm the jam jar for 30 seconds in the microwave.
- ‘Pat’ the remaining dough in place by taking small portion of dough at a time. Don’t worry that you have to ‘piece’ it together – it adds to its looks and charm!
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes, and then check for doneness. For soft, extremely most jam bars remove from oven when edges are lightly browned. For a crisper top and a firmer bar, let cook a bit longer until the top is lightly browned too.
*I like to use a non-stick spray made specifically for baking. These typically have flour added to them and are found in the baking section along with the other non-stick sprays.