Grandmother Brinton's Raisin Bars

Photo: Sang An
3 dozen 2-inch squares

This recipe comes from assistant food editor Tara Bench's family. The rustic bars with a fruit filling sandwiched between layers of buttery dough can be made with dried figs instead of raisins.


For the Filling

  • Unsalted butter, room temperature, for pans

  • 2 cups raisins (about 13 ounces)

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

  • 1 cup cold water

  • ½ cup apple cider

For the Dough

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt

  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable shortening

  • 1 ¼ cups packed light-brown sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 2 ½ cups old-fashioned oats


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-by-15-inch baking pan; line bottom with parchment. Butter parchment, set aside.

  2. Make the filling: Place the raisins and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until very finely chopped.Transfer to a small saucepan. Whisk cornstarch into the water; whisk into pan. Stir in cider. Simmer over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool completely.

  3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream shortening on medium speed until smooth. Add brown sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add the flour mixture all at once; beat on low speed until combined. Beat in oats.

  4. Using an offset spatula, spread half the dough in prepared pan; spread filling on top. Crumble remaining dough over, gently pressing down to conceal filling. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Remove from oven; let cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.

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