Purple Ribbon Oat & Jam Bars

Oat & Blackberry Jam Bars
     Yesterday I judged 4-H Foods at the Central Kansas Free Fair in Abilene. There were some outstanding entries; actually everything I judged was good to excellent in terms of taste and overall appearance.
     One bar cookie entry reminded me of Bonnie Fruth’s Apricot Bars. Dave and Bonnie were long time Abilene residents. Dave was a counselor at AHS and Bonnie was an elementary teacher.
     Bonnie’s oat and jam bars are easy to make and over the years I have made them with various kinds of preserves; the young lady at the fair used homemade peach preserves. I’ve tweaked Bonnie’s in other ways as well – adding nuts and reducing sugar. Here is my version of her recipe.

Oat & Jam Bars     Makes a 9”x13” pan
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ cups packed brown sugar (I have reduced this by ¼ to ½ cup this without adverse effect; in other words, use 1 or 1¼ cups if you prefer
2¼ cups oatmeal (while either quick or old-fashioned work, my preference is the old-fashioned variety)
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks + 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
3/4 to 1 cup chopped nuts, optional
18 oz. jar preserves (could cut down to 16 oz. or less if desired)

1.     Preheat oven to 375°. Grease or spray a 9”x13” pan
2.     In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, oatmeal, salt and butter. Mix just until crumbly, adding nuts (if using) near the end.
3.     Pat half of the mixture in sheet cake pan (it will be a relatively thin layer that will puff as it bakes). Cover with preserves, spreading out evenly..  Sprinkle remaining half of crumb mixture on top of preserves and press lightly. 
4.     Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

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