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Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

August 29, 2013

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I’m on the East Coast where summer is in full swing. Although in many ways, it’s already swung; it’s practically fall. This week I crunched on leaves with my niece and waved my nephew off to his first day of (pre-kindergarten) school.

Back in California, I don’t think we’re quite there yet. When I left, we were up to our elbows in peaches (I’ve been regretting not scarfing one more down on my way to the airport). Peppers are piling up and heirloom tomatoes are just entering their swoon-worthy stage.

One curious springtime stowaway sits nestled among the tomatoes and greens at our local farmer’s stand: rhubarb! The stalks are thicker, greener, muddier than the perfect thin ruby ones I look for in the spring, but still… there they are.

Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal BarsPin it!

Paula noticed them first, and came home with a big bundle. I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but I seem to have gotten Paula just as excited about rhubarb as I am (and that is saying something). I think it has something to do with this recipe.

Making Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

In June, I finally got the chance to bring Paula to the Madison farmer’s market. One of the best farmer’s markets in the country, it’s not just known for its plants and produce, but also for its bread and cheese. We planned to indulge in plenty of cheese curds (mission accomplished!) and a breakfast pastry or two… for old time’s sake.

Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

As a kid, my favorite farmer’s market treats (besides cheese curds and honey sticks) were the tangy, buttery rhubarb oatmeal bars at one of the bakery stands. I occasionally went through other phases, like the bigger-than-my-head two-dimensional cinnamon sugar pinwheels we called “elephant ears”, but I nearly always came back to the fruity oatmeal bars. (Kicking off a lifelong habit of choosing pie over cake.)

This year, though, we missed out. Having mistakenly saved our appetites for the chèvre croissants at L’Etoile—which turned out to be closed—I led Paula around the capitol square right past the rhubarb bars. (Kicking off a serious craving.)

Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

Soon after, we came home to California, spotted some rhubarb, and bam: a summer tradition was born. Let me be more specific: a weekly tradition, this summer. Not a yearly summer tradition, yet…

Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal BarsPin it!

(My former summer tradition was to blend up a batch of gazpacho once a week, alternating with zaru-soumen or soba noodles, just to survive the heat… but that was back when I lived in places with hot summers!)

I can’t even count how many weeks I’ve made these rhubarb bars in a row, and each time Paula has begged me to add the recipe to the blog, while I’ve stubbornly, blindly protested: “Rhubarb is for springtime! We just missed our chance; we’ll have to wait all the way until next spring now!”

Ingredients for Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

Well I’ve changed my mind. I see the error of my ways. If rhubarb is more readily available in Santa Barbara in the summer than in the spring, then rhubarb recipes in August are still 100% legitimately seasonal, at least for Santa Barbara and its wacky (yet sublime) weather patterns.

Making Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

The rhubarb peach combination came about when Paula excitedly came home with (not enough) rhubarb, and I looked around our counters for something to fill out the fruit layer of the bars. The pockets of sweet peaches balanced out the puckery bites of tangy rhubarb—I like to keep things tart and tangy by adding a bare minimum of sugar—and the peach and rhubarb flavors seemed surprisingly happy together.

Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal BarsPin it!

If you’re not lucky enough to have peaches and rhubarb in season at the same time, you can easily make these oatmeal bars with whatever other fruit is plentiful instead. I’ve made them so many different ways this summer, it’s hard to remember, but I know these were successes:

Rhubarb strawberry
Rhubarb strawberry blueberry (which I had trouble not pronouncing “rhubarb strawberry blubarb”)
Rhubarb peach
Rhubarb peach blueberry

Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal BarsPin it!

And what I’m sure would work but I’ve never tried: Peach blueberry. (Because a bakery stand or two at the Madison Farmer’s Market sells amazing Apricot Oatmeal Bars in addition to rhubarb ones, which made me realize this recipe could easily be rhubarb-less, made with pure peaches.)

Making Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

Note: I’m keeping the amount of fruit flexible here, because I think it’s typical to make oatmeal bars with a little less fruit, but I like to pack in extra (without increasing the sugar) for an even more substantial layer of filling. (It’ll work either way.) Increase the fruit and the bottom crust might be a little more crumbly and unreliable, but no one is going to mind having to eat these bars with a fork rather than fingers. The heavier the fruit layer, the more tart and luscious the bars.

Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal BarsPin it!

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

(Makes about 15 bars)

Filling Ingredients:
[use 3-5 cups of fruit, total, such as:]
~ 2-3 cups rhubarb, chopped (5-8 stalks)
~ 1-2 cups peaches, peeled and chopped (1-2 peaches), or other fruit (e.g., strawberries)
~ ⅓ cup sugar (or more, for less tart bars)
~ 1 heaping Tbsp. corn starch
~ juice of 1 lemon
~ 2-3 Tbsp. water
~ 1 tsp. ground ginger (optional)

Crust and Crumble Topping Ingredients:
~ 1½ cups flour
~ ½ tsp. baking soda
~ ½ tsp. salt
~ 1 stick butter, softened
~ ¾ cup brown sugar
~ 3 Tbsp. cold water
~ 1½ cups rolled oats

How to make it:

1. Combine all filling ingredients in a medium/large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, or until the fruit has started to break down and become soft and smush-able (whether you smush it up thoroughly or not is up to you). Then remove from burner and set aside to cool.

Making Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

2. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9″x13″ pan with a parchment paper sling (to easily lift out the bars after baking).

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Making Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal BarsMaking Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

4. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together the softened butter and brown sugar. Then, in two or three batches, add the flour mixture from the small bowl, mixing it in until well incorporated. Blend in the water, then mix in the oats (I do this using the hand mixer too, even though a few of them fly).

Crust for Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal BarsCrust for Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

5. Turn out ¾ of the crust mixture into the parchment-lined pan and use your fingers to evenly distribute and firmly press the crust across the bottom of the pan. Then pour in the fruit filling, and gently spread it out with a rubber spatula. Finally pinch together and crumble the remaining ¼ of the crust mixture over the top of the bars.

Making Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

6. Bake for 30 minutes (moving the bars near the top of the oven for the last few minutes of baking to brown them a little on top). Let cool completely before slicing into about 15 bars. (Cover and refrigerate extra bars for up to several days.)

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal BarsPin it!

Related recipe posts:

Rhubarb Strawberry Galette Mango Lassi Muffins Berry Rhubarb Crisp Zesty Lemon Lime Bars
Rhubarb Strawberry Birthday Galette Mango Lassi Muffins with Yogurt and Cardamom Berry Rhubarb Crisp (Gluten-Free) Zesty Lemon Lime Bars
55 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2013 7:53 am

    These look wonderful!

  2. August 29, 2013 8:35 am

    Rhubarb is something I didn’t get exposed to until I moved to Central NY for grad school. Living in California my whole life, I hadn’t really seen rhubarb (especially since I have foreign parents who have never heard of rhubarb). Now I’m obsessed and I’ve introduced all my family and friends to rhubarb. For 4th of July, I made Blueberry-Rhubarb Crisp and it was divine. Like your bars it has the awesome oat topping.

    Peaches and Rhubarb, I can only imagine the combination is amazing! Please bring me some!

    • August 29, 2013 8:41 am

      Haha, I wish I could mail you some, but I’m not sure how they’d hold up in transit! :) I’m sure when I get back to CA, I will immediately feel the need to whip up another batch.

      It’s interesting that rhubarb is so hard to come by in California. I mean it’s been somewhat easy to find in Santa Barbara recently, but only in late summer (not the spring, which I find odd…), and also it’s only rarely at our farmer’s markets and only sporadically in our grocery stores. We’ve been buying it from a farm stand (which is open six or seven days a week, but doesn’t have a stall at the farmer’s market).

      Anyway, peaches and rhubarb IS an amazing combination, and blueberries and rhubarb are pretty amazing together, too! (Which I didn’t know until I added blueberries to these bars earlier this summer!)

  3. August 29, 2013 8:50 am

    Peaches and rhubarb – awesome combo! I’m putting this on my must-make list. Thanks for sharing!


  4. August 29, 2013 10:15 am

    Oh my. My son would love this as one of his favourites is rhubarb. Lovely.

  5. August 29, 2013 10:28 am

    Looks wonderful. You’ve inspired me to start looking for rhubarb again to make my rhubarb pound cake with peaches and an oat streusel topping! Thanks for the beautiful inspiration!

  6. August 29, 2013 11:24 am

    What a beautiful and tasty treat! I never thought to put peaches & rhubarb together, but it sounds wonderful.

    • August 30, 2013 3:05 pm

      Thanks! It is really a wonderful combination, and one that I’d also never considered until the day Paula didn’t buy enough rhubarb! :)

  7. August 29, 2013 11:25 am

    Looks amazing! I am def. going to have to try it!!

  8. August 29, 2013 11:28 am

    Blubarb!! Love it.

    So gorgeous. I am drinking coffee right now, and somethin’s missing… Hm.

    • August 30, 2013 3:06 pm

      :) I’m not sure if I ever said “blubarb” out loud, but I definitely stopped myself from saying it at least five or six times the week I made those.

  9. August 29, 2013 12:41 pm

    Peaches and rhubarb sounds and looks so scrumptious together, honestly too delicious :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  10. August 29, 2013 1:07 pm

    Bella ricetta, but rhubarb is unusual in Italy, so I could’nt try to cook these bars. Peccato! Ciao Allison

    • August 30, 2013 3:08 pm

      So sad! Maybe you can grow your own someday… or make sure to eat some when you travel out of the country. :)

      • August 30, 2013 3:15 pm

        When travelling I always buy as souvenir something I can cook at home, I’ll do the same with rhubarb next time!

      • August 30, 2013 3:22 pm

        Sounds good! I often do the same when it’s possible. Sometimes I really wish I could bring fresh produce across international borders…

  11. August 29, 2013 4:33 pm

    Whilst growing up we always had rhubarb tarts during spring and also at this time of year. It’s just how rhubarb’s season is. Nothing nicer! Really want to try these bars if I can get my hands on rolled oats – seriously, can’t find them where I live!

    • August 30, 2013 3:10 pm

      Oh interesting! Maybe it’s like raspberry season where they’re “in season” two separate times?! (We had raspberries in my back yard as a kid, and they were excellent in July and then again in a separate harvest in September.)

      I can’t believe you can’t find rolled oats, though; that’s too bad! They’ve become a staple in my kitchen for sure. Let me know if you end up substituting some other type of oats/grain for the rolled oats and how that works out.

      • August 30, 2013 3:14 pm

        It’s actually possible to buy lots of differing types of oats, just not rolled for some reason. I’m hoping to pop up to a superstore a few miles away to check if they might have them. I need them for flapjacks I’m developing. But, would also love to try your bars!

      • August 30, 2013 3:16 pm

        Hope you can find them! :)

  12. August 29, 2013 6:25 pm

    Yum! This is going on my list of things to bake.

  13. August 29, 2013 6:35 pm

    Oh my word. I am chomping at the bit to get to the summer fruit that’s about to appear in shops here in Australia. These look so delicious.

    • August 30, 2013 3:26 pm

      Summer stone fruit (etc.) can never come soon enough, can it?! It’s kinda cool that its Northern and Southern Hemisphere seasons might even somewhat overlap, too… ours on the way out, and yours on its way in… :) Hope you guys don’t have to wait too long!

  14. August 30, 2013 8:05 am

    this looks like the most perfect on the go breakfast item to grab in the AM, to nibble on, and basically crumb up your blouse and driver seat.
    i personally don’t care for rhubarb (sorry, can we still be friends?) but i like the versatility of the recipe that any fruit will do.

    • August 30, 2013 3:32 pm

      Exactly! We ate quite a few of these at breakfast times—along with other stuff, although on weekdays Paula and I have mostly been wrapping them up to add to our take-to-work/campus lunches. They make the nicest after-lunch treats (especially since otherwise I would only rarely pack a lunch “dessert”) and they not only crumb up my shirt but also my laptop keyboard.

      I’m sad you’re missing out on rhubarb (from my perspective) but of course we can still be friends—I’ve forgiven worse among friends, like a distaste for tomatoes for one thing! ;)

  15. August 31, 2013 11:27 am

    Love that rhubarb! Those peach bars look amazing!

  16. walgenbe permalink
    September 3, 2013 9:20 am

    Yummy! I love a good bar. By the time I get back from vacation though, I wonder what fruits will be available in the market. If peaches are still in, they look incredible, but we may be on to italian plums and apples. Rhubarb is maybe my favorite though. Hope you’re doing well!

    • September 5, 2013 10:11 am

      Thanks, Em! I hope peaches are sticking around on the east coast, even if you have to wait until next spring for more rhubarb…

      (Also, you’re on vacation? Like back in the Midwest or to somewhere more exciting? Oh and thanks for your e-mail the other day—it was so nice of you to think of me; I’ve just been short on time to write back!)

      • September 20, 2013 7:16 am

        As you can probably see from facebook, I was all over Europe! (ok, just Germany and Iceland), but it was super fun. We will see what’s at the farmer’s market tomorrow. I sooo wanted to buy fresh currants in germany though.

      • September 22, 2013 11:24 am

        Nice! I forgot you were going to Iceland to visit your sister! Fresh currants must have been super tempting… hope you can find some good stuff to cook with now that you’re back home. :)

  17. September 4, 2013 2:18 pm

    These look wonderful, and so perfect for that much-needed mid-day snack!

    • September 5, 2013 10:13 am

      Thanks, Tess! Yep, that’s what we’ve been using them for—even more than as an after-dinner dessert, I keep eating them for after-lunch pick-me-ups. :) I also brought some along to a picnic, where they were a big hit!

  18. September 9, 2013 8:34 am

    These look lovely!! Celeste :)

  19. September 24, 2013 4:35 pm

    That looks incredible. You pictures are amazing. I can’t wait to look around more.

  20. April 3, 2014 1:58 pm

    Epic times! That last photo with the juicy peach pieces is food-gasmic. I’m going to have to try this, no doubt (…actually, as I type this, I’m beginning to feel tinged with doubt: harder to get good peaches here in England. I’ll try and root some out like a truffle pig)

    • April 10, 2014 10:33 am

      Haha, thanks for coming over to check out the recipe. :) I used to be so apathetic about peaches (and I still detest canned ones), but the fresh ones in California have converted me, and I now love them even more than nectarines or apricots (just since I’ve moved to CA). I also wouldn’t have expected that they’d go so well with rhubarb, but they do! I really hope you can find some good peaches in England! There’s got to be at least, like, a week or two (?) during July or August when some of them are nice, right?!

  21. Cathy Swiontek permalink
    May 31, 2014 4:36 pm

    Minnesotan here! Rhubarb exists everywhere! Yep. This is a great combination!

    • June 12, 2014 9:43 am

      Thanks, Cathy! Ahhh the plentiful rhubarb is one of the things I really miss about the Midwest! (I was just back home in Wisconsin the weekend before last and was so smitten with all of the gorgeous rhubarb at the farmer’s market, since it’s actually one of the few things that’s tricky to find in California!)


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