I have a bit of a rhubarb problem.
The problem is, when I see an enormous crown of it in someone’s back yard, or if I’m offered up an armful of it, I can’t resist – even though we’re trying to clear out the kitchen and whittle the contents of the fridge down into the little bar-sized one in the garage and the already-full chest freezer in the basement. And yet I keep cramming our newly excavated spaces with freezer bags full of chopped rhubarb. Because it’s there. And it’s free. And it just keeps on growing.
I could easily live on pie for these 8 weeks of summer, but daily pastry is not the best choice from a time and waistline perspective. And so often I resort to crumble – which is almost like pie, with all its best elements in easy-to-bake, scoopable form. And if you haven’t had cold crumble with a big spoonful of thick Greek yogurt on the back porch with coffee for breakfast in the morning, you haven’t fully experienced summer yet.
Because a warm crumble on the countertop leaves me prone to picking, sometimes I’ll divvy up the mixture between two smaller dishes (or cast iron skillets, as I tend to favour) and send one over to a neighbour. The problem with this scenario is no leftovers for breakfast.
I’ve also been known to blitz up a big batch of the crumble mixture to keep in a bag in the freezer (alongside the rhubarb) for dessert emergencies. All you need to do is toss your choice of fruit, chunked if it needs it, with sugar and cornstarch and upend the bag overtop for a nearly instant summer dessert. (Minus baking time, of course.)
It goes without saying that in July there should always be vanilla ice cream or whipping cream within easy access.
Peaches would do well here too, when they arrive… or raspberries, blackberries, plums – you get the idea. Measurements are pretty lax – unlike a pie, it’s not a big deal if your crumble is a little runny in the bottom. And to be honest, when I do a crumble I toss roughly equal amounts of butter, sugar, flour and oats into a food processor and pulse until crumbly – you don’t have to be precise here, either.
3-4 cups chopped rhubarb
3-4 cups hulled, halved strawberries
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup flour
Preheat the oven to 350F. To make the filling, toss the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl or directly in your baking dish; spread it out in the dish.
To make the crumble, blend all the ingredients in a bowl with a fork or your fingers, or pulse it in the food processor until well combined and crumbly. Sprinkle it over the fruit, squeezing to create larger clumps as you go.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until golden and bubbly around the edges. Serves 8.
July 12 2014 07:23 pm | dessert