There is something about rhubarb that I find so delicious, although I know not everyone likes it. Maybe it’s the strong and quite tart flavour that appeals to some but not others. When I found it fresh at the market the other day, I immediately began to dream about rhubarb crumble, which adds a layer of sweet crunchiness to the smooth and tart rhubarb. Yum!
Rhubarb crumble is very quick to prepare as it’s simply a matter of washing and cutting up the rhubarb, then cooking it briefly on the stove before it goes in the oven, covered by a crumble. Rhubarb is usually sold just as a bunch of stalks, but if you do get any leaves, be sure to discard them as the leaves are actually poisonous. As you’re cutting up the stalks, just pull off and discard any particularly tough strings.
The rhubarb stalks cook down very quickly and to not very much (they’re a bit like spinach in that way). I personally like it to still have some texture, rather than being complete mush, so I try to take it off the heat as soon as it starts to soften and the sugar is dissolved. It cooks further in the oven anyway.
Crumble literally takes a matter of minutes to prepare. You can use any flour, although I generally prefer wholewheat myself, especially as there is no rising involved. You could use white sugar but brown or caramel adds a bit more flavour, so rather use that if you have it. I happened to have some walnut crumbs in the fridge, so I added those, but you could use pecans or almonds instead if you prefer, or leave the nuts out completely.
You may end up with extra crumble, but that’s not a problem as it freezes well. Sometime when you want to spend less than 5 minutes on preparing your dessert, you can basically throw the left-over crumble over any fruit, then just bake it till the fruit is cooked and the crumble is crunchy.
You could serve it as is, but I like to add a touch of creaminess. Greek yoghurt is usually my first choice, as it has a tartness of its own that complements the rhubarb well. You could also use cream (whipped or poured), ice-cream, mascarpone, cream cheese or anything similar.
- 1 bunch of rhubarb (about 8 stalks)
- 2T white sugar or honey
- 1 stick cinnamon
- ¼c orange juice or water
- 3T flour
- 1½T sugar (brown or caramel if possible)
- 2t ground cinnamon
- 1½T butter
- 2T ground nuts e.g. pecan, walnut or almond (optional)
Optional to serve:
- Greek or other double-cream yoghurt; or
- Cream; or
- Ice-cream; or
- Mascarpone; or
- Cream cheese
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut up the rhubarb stalks into chunks, removing any tough strings (the ones the knife doesn’t easily cut right through).
Place the rhubarb in a pot and add sugar, cinnamon and juice or water.
Cook on low heat, gently stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, until the rhubarb softens and starts to break down, which takes about 5 – 10 minutes. Then remove the cinnamon stick.
Meanwhile make the crumble. Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter into a bowl.
Stir to combine the dry ingredients and use a knife to cut up the butter a bit.
Then using your fingertips, rub the butter into the mix until you end up with a consistency similar to breadcrumbs.Most of the butter should be incorporated, although it’s fine if there are still a few small pieces of it.
Add the nuts and stir in.
Grease an oven-proof dish and pour in the cooked rhubarb.
Pour some of the crumble over until the rhubarb is completely covered with a thickish layer. Any remaining crumble can be frozen for other uses.
Bake until the crumble is crunchy – usually about 30 – 40 minutes (don’t worry if some of the rhubarb breaks through the crumble).
Serve hot with Greek yoghurt, cream or whatever else you choose to add some creaminess.
To use the left-over crumble:
Cut up or just halve any fruit e.g. apples, pears, bananas, plums, peaches, etc. Put the fruit in a greased oven-proof dish and pour the crumble over. Bake at 180°C until crumble is crunchy. Serve as above.
© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2014