These Whole Wheat & Oatmeal Marmalade Bars are absolutely fabulous ~ the tender whole wheat, brown sugar, and oatmeal crust sets off the homemade marmalade beautifully!
I know high baking season runs from Thanksgiving through Christmas, but I secretly love January baking best. There’s no schedule to keep, and no pressure to please anyone but myself. Maybe my husband, just a little, but mostly me. There is so much busy work to attend to in January, and a little indulgence like these whole grain marmalade squares makes getting out of bed and getting to it just a bit more enticing. Nothing fancy, or decadent, in fact I’d consider these squares to be pretty wholesome, I used a combination of whole wheat and oat flours, along with rolled oats for texture. We always have a glut of marmalade in the house after Christmas. Living in California there are lots of folks with backyard citrus trees and giving marmalade away is a tradition. Marmalades can run the gamut from dark, and bitter to bright and sweet, I’ve mixed together the remains from a couple of different batches to fill my bars. If you don’t have any homemade you can buy wonderful marmalades, including authentic Scottish imports which come in beautiful jars — I keep my teaspoon measures in an empty one by the stove.
January baking is almost always breakfast friendly. It’s sweetness is tempered with fruit, nuts, and whole grains. It’s usually only one story high, more often crumbled and crusted than frosted. January baking is pleasure without the guilt. Theoretically, anyway, I don’t know what your guilt threshold is for sweets, but mine is set pretty high.
These bars turned out even better than I expected, considering I’m not a huge lover of marmalade itself. The crust has a graham crackery flavor and is very soft, not crunchy. The slight bitter edginess of the marmalade goes really well with the brown sugar and oats. They’re luscious, really, they’re going on my favorites list.
- 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup oat flour
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup marmalade
- Set oven to 375F
- Cream the butter and shortening with the sugar. Make sure to smooth out any lumps in the brown sugar. Beat in the extracts, and then the egg.
- Mix the flours with the oats, baking powder, and salt, stirring to combine them well.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until a soft dough forms.
- Take just over half of the dough and press it into the bottom of a 9x9 square baking pan. I line mine with parchment with overlapping edges so I can lift it out easily for cutting. Drop the dough in blobs all over the bottom of the pan, and then use your fingers to spread it out. Don't fuss over it, just try and cover the surface of the pan. Use a little extra dough if you need to, and don't compact it too much.
- Spread the marmalade over the top.
- Take the remaining dough and, using your fingers, take small amounts at a time and flatten it slightly with your fingers and lay it out over the marmalade. It doesn't have to cover it completely, and it will spread as it bakes. It's ok to have some marmalade peeking through.
- Bake about 30 minutes until just starting to turn golden around the edges. Cool on a rack before cutting.
You can use any jam you like for these bars, but one that's not too sweet, with a chunky texture works best. This recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com
January is a mixed bag for me. I have to face all the work I’ve let pile up over the holidays… file, organize, clean, de-clutter, and make doctor appointments. January is all about taking care of the business of life. But it’s also my birthday month. And there’s always January baking to look forward to.
You can find oat flour in most large supermarkets, health food stores, and online. I highly recommend keeping a bag in your cupboards for baking. I often mix it with white or wheat flours and I love the tender crumb and oaty flavor it gives to everything from breads and muffins to pancakes and desserts.