For a novel approach to fig bars, we introduced the bright, slightly spicy flavor of ginger and a crisp streusel topping. A streusel bar should have a sturdy, buttery, shortbread-like base and a rich crumble topping that lends texture. For the base, we started with a straightforward combination of butter, our gluten-free flour blend, sugar, and salt. By mixing pieces of softened butter into the dry ingredients, a method called reverse creaming, we developed the ideal delicate, short crumb. But without gluten, this base couldn’t support the filling and topping. Adding just ¼ teaspoon of xanthan gum gave the crust the structure it needed. For the streusel topping, we simply took a portion of our shortbread base mixture and added light brown sugar, walnuts, and oats. Fig preserves or spread provided just the right jammy consistency, and the addition of lemon juice, lemon zest, and crystallized ginger gave our bars the bright flavors we were seeking. After parbaking the base, all we had to do was spread on the filling, crumble our streusel over the top, and return the pan to the oven for a short stint.
- Yield: 16 bars
- 6 ounces (1⅓ cups) ATK All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend
- 2⅓ ounces (⅓ cup) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and softened
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped fine
- ¼ cup gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
- ¾ cup fig preserves
- 1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
- ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons juice
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Make foil sling for 8-inch square baking pan by folding 2 long sheets of aluminum foil so each is 8 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan. Spray foil with vegetable oil spray.
- Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour blend, granulated sugar, ground ginger, salt, and xanthan gum on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes. (Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water as needed if dough appears dry.) Set aside ½ cup mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture evenly into prepared pan using bottom of greased measuring cup. Bake until edges begin to brown, 14 to 18 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
- Meanwhile, mix brown sugar, walnuts, and oats into reserved dough. Combine preserves, crystallized ginger, and lemon zest and juice in separate bowl. Spread fig preserve mixture evenly over hot crust, then sprinkle with hazelnut-size clumps of oat topping. Bake until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 22 to 25 minutes.
- Let bars cool completely in pan on wire rack, 1 to 2 hours. Using foil overhang, remove bars from pan. Cut into 16 pieces and serve. (Bars can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; crust and streusel will soften.)