Blackberry and peaches have a short life span. They appear in local markets and entangled in bushes wanting to be seen, heard and tasted and then just before you’ve had your fill, they seem to vanish. I have a tendency to hoard and my freezer space suffers because of it. But this year, I didn’t stash away buckets full of berries. Instead, I found joy in their freshness and honoured their fleeting nature. I ate them out of hand and I also made these tasty squares.
But first, I wanted to talk about summer. It is also fleeting. Summer didn’t really seem to start here until August and it doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon either. This summer I attended a horse race where I came out pretty much on par. You win some, you lose some and then you drink a cold one. I played croquet in suburban backyards and went on bike rides around the city. I discovered a beautiful new park close to my neighbourhood and I appeared on the radio. I even went to an afternoon baseball game!
I rode a wooden roller coaster, ate a corn dog and realized that I’m getting too old for those spinny rides at the fair. With friends in tow, I spent a few afternoons and evenings in a tiny island in the middle of the city, usually with a picnic and a beer in hand. We drove out to the semi-desert of this beautiful province and saw hoodoos and peered down at tiny prickly pear cactuses that grew underfoot. We camped by rivers and had campfires and ate ‘smores.
Summer, I’m glad we became fast friends. Luckily, blackberries and peaches make wonderful playmates. Sweet and tart and much less fussy than a pie, these bars make a lovely wrap up to the fading summer sun.
blackberry & peach shortbread bars
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen and this recipe)
3 c all-purpose flour
1 c white sugar
1 t baking powder
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t sea salt
1 c cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 t vanilla extract
2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
2 cups blackberries (if using frozen, no need to defrost)
Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 9×13″ pan.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add the butter and use your hands to crumble the dough into small pieces. Add in the egg and vanilla. Stir to combine. Press 3/4 of the dough into the prepped pan and set aside the remaining dough for the topping.
Add the sliced peaches over top and then scatter the blackberries. Crumble the remaining dough over top . Bake for 35 minutes or until the top and sides are golden. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 24 squares.