Marmalade is a popular fruit preserve typically made from sugar and orange juice that has pieces of orange or orange rind suspended it it. Seville oranges, also known as bitter oranges, are the standard citrus used in marmalade, but you can actually make it with any kind of citrus and I’ve had some lovely marmalades made with blood oranges and grapefruits before. Marmalade has a very strong flavor and while it makes a lovely topping for scones and toast, it is also a great ingredient to bake with because it can add a ton of flavor to a dessert.
These Marmalade Crumble Bars showcase marmalade in between two layers of buttery shortbread. The same shortbread mixture makes up the top and bottom of the bars, so it is very easy to put these bars together. You simply pack down a portion of the shortbread mix into the bottom of the pan, add a layer of marmalade and top it off with the reserved crust. The finished bars have a wonderful sweet-bitter flavor from the marmalade that contrasts very well with the slightly sweet, buttery shortbread. The shortbread topping is slightly crispy after baking, but these bars are more tender and slightly chewy thanks to the filling. Any kind of marmalade will work (I used blood orange for these bars), but be sure to choose one that you like the flavor of, since it will only intensify during baking.
Since the bottom crust is very crumbly before baking, it can be difficult to spread the marmalade out – especially if you have a fairly thick marmalade. I like to drop small dollops of marmalade all over the bottom crust (think polka dots), then use a knife to gently spread the marmalade from one dollop to another. This makes it very easy to cover the whole crust without pulling up many crumbs. The same technique also comes in handy when working with other crumbly things, such as graham cracker crusts.
Allow the bars to set and cool completely before slicing and use a sharp knife to get clean slices. I like to cut these bars into small rectangles, making about 24 bars from each batch. Feel free to cut them into large (16) squares for larger servings or bite sized pieces (36) for smaller snacks. The bars should be kept stored in an airtight container if you’re not going to eat them all right away.
Marmalade Crumble Bars
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups rolled oats (quick-cooking or regular)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until light and creamy. Beat in flour mixture until everything is well-combined and dough is very sandy.
Set aside 1 1/4 cups of crumb mixture.
Pour remaining crumb mixture into prepared pan and press down into an even layer.
Stir the marmalade well to ensure it is not too thick, then dollop the marmalade all over the shortbread crust. Carefully spread it into an even layer using a knife. Crumble remaining shortbread mixture over the top of the marmalade.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top crust is pale golden and set.
Allow bars to cool completely in the pan before slicing. Cut into 24 bars with a sharp knife to serve.
Makes 24 bars.