Sunday 19 August 2007

Ruby Crumble of rhubarb and raspberries!

Once I got my Enchanted Broccoli Forest into the oven last Saturday when Kim and Jo were over, I turned my attention to the important issue of dessert! I often make cakes but I had initially thought I would make a rhubarb and strawberry crumble. I have seen a few berry crumbles on blogs lately.

Here is where I must pause to reflect on dessert. I grew up in a household where my mother made cooked desserts most nights. In fact I was always a little dismayed to just be offered a bought biscuit when I was at dinner with school friends! Yet I now rarely make dessert. If I have been baking, we have some baked goodies but I usually prefer fruit fresh rather than cooked. I love apples when in season but I am not a big fan of stewed apple that my mum would put in crumbles, pies and sponges. When friends come to dinner these days I often make cake.

But lately I have started to see sense in baking desserts. Firstly, when I was reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, the family set out to eat locally and started out the year at the end of winter with virtually no fresh fruit. I kept wanting to tell her they should have had stewed fruit on hand. But I also have been craving fruit lately in a similar way.

I love seasonal fruit but I do tend to eat lots of fruit in season and then towards the end of the season I tire of apples or nectarines or mandarins or pears, and they aren’t tasting so good when they are no longer as fresh. It takes me a while to adjust to a new season. So lately, as we near the end of winter, I have wanted fresh fruit but not found it appealing. Cooking fresh fruit seems odd, but having fruit preserved to eat out of season suddenly makes a lot of sense. I now see just how much fruit my mother made us eat through eating desserts.

However I had some problems thinking about doing a strawberry and rhubarb crumble. I wanted to do it but was feeling ridiculous about using out of season strawberries. Then at my recent farmer’s market outing, I bought Di’s rhubarb for the crumble and some of her rhubarb and raspberry jam. The combination made sense as soon as I saw the frozen raspberries for sale at another stall. I would make rhubarb and raspberry crumble.

Next challenge was finding the recipe. I knew I had seen recipes for rhubarb and strawberry crumble but couldn’t remember where. Unfortunately it wasn’t til the next morning that I remembered Holler had an excellent recipe on her blog. But I had remembered that Tara had a recipe for a strawberry and coriander crumble which interested me because it had a very oaty crumble. One of my guests, Kim, has a gluten free diet but can eat a little gluten. I had looked for gluten free crumbles and not found any to inspire me so I thought this recipe with mostly oats (which my reading tells me can be eaten by some on gluten free diets) and a tiny amount of flour, might be the next best thing.

So I used the ingredients from Tara’s recipe but instead of her method of freezing and then breaking up the crumble, I just did my usual method of rubbing the butter into the ingredients, which seemed to work fine. By the time I was making it I didn’t have time for fancy freezing techniques. I also couldn’t decide on if I should cook the rhubarb first or not. I found a Vikki Leng recipe for stewing rhubarb using honey and lemon which I used rather than sugar. But quite a lot of recipes didn’t precook the rhubarb so I thought I could get away without it.

The crumble was lovely with all the oats. (It was ok although probably not ideal for Kim). But the rhubarb was only just cooked – it kept its shape and even the occasional crunch rather than being the stringy slush that we know and love. Next time (as my mum has advised after the event) I will cook the rhubarb first, so I have amended the recipe to reflect this. But it still was a great dessert with brilliant colour, great texture and wonderful flavours. Jo said it tasted like a really good muesli which I thought was a great way to describe it. It indeed did feel more healthy than my usual cakes.

I forgot to take a photo so the photo of the actual dish is from the next morning but the one of the fruit is before I put it in the oven when it was such a divine ruby red! Here is what I did.

Update: for a more satisfactory rhubarb crumble - see my rhubarb and pear crumble - I think it works better to cook the rhubarb first from this experience.

Rhubarb and Raspberry Crumble
Serves 4

400g bunch rhubarb, topped and tailed, and chopped
⅓ cup honey (I used a bit less than ½ cup and found it a bit much)
Juice of one small lemon
350g frozen raspberries

3 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
3 tbsp plain flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
100g butter, chopped

Cook rhubarb, honey and lemon approximately 10 minutes til rhubarb is just done. Cool a little while you make the crumble.

To make the crumble, rub the butter into the remaining crumble ingredients til mostly mixed – mine wasn’t quite mixed and seemed ok.

Add raspberries to rhubarb mixture and stir. Place in greased baking dish and top with crumble. Bake at 180ºC for 30 – 40 minutes or til crumble is golden brown and crisp. Serve with cream or yoghurt or (an excellent idea by E after the event) custard!

On the stereo:
Seeds of Happiness, part 1: Jeffrey Roden


  1. This crumble looks scrumptuous! I like to break up the monotony of fresh fruit by making an apple compote every once in a while. Gluten-free desserts are always fun to experiment with, so I 'll have to try this recipe soon. (-:

  2. i hope my music helped make what looks to be a lovely desert!

    jeffrey roden

  3. Oh you remind me I have a bunch of rhubarb from the farmers market that haven't been used. This crumble sounds excellent! Well-done!

  4. I've been cooking rhubarb a lot this winter, having discovered that my eldest likes it as much as I do! I usually roast it with orange juice, vanilla and brown sugar, and serve it with custard. But maybe next time I will add some frozen raspberries and top it off with a crumble crust.

  5. You have definitely taken it a step on from my strawberry and rhubarb crumble! But thanks for remembering it!
    I have rhubarb in the freezer, so I will try it with raspberries next time! they are still in season here!

  6. Sadly I can't take anything sour. :( Maybe I can make this for my MIL - she loves things sourish.

  7. thanks Monica - stewed apple is not my favourite - but I quite like it with rhubarb or berries - btw this dessert is not gluten free as I couldn't find a GF recipe that inspired me - but I will keep looking so will be interested to hear from anyone with a good recipe

    thanks Jeffrey - your music was indeed enjoyed - my partner had a review copy and my friends had to check out the CD cover (I like to write what music we listen to but don't have the energy to put much about it)

    thanks Anh - how nice to have rhubarb in your kitchen - I am feeling I need another bunch so I can cook the rhubarb more as I like it

    Kathleen - your roasted rhubarb sounds fantastic - you will have to give me more info on this!

    Holler, your recipe looked fantastic and better cooked than mine so wish I had remembered it earlier - you are lucky to have raspberries in season - scottish raspberries are great too!

    Cooking ninja - rhubarb and raspberries don't need to be sour - you could experiment with putting more sugar - and maybe use orange juice and vanilla like kathleen uses for extra sweetness without all the sugar!

  8. Rustic strawberry and rhubarb pie is my personal favorite.

  9. Haven't heard of raspberry and rhubarb being used together before but it just sounds so right. :)
    I've tagged you for a meme. See my site if you fancy taking part.

  10. Johanna, love, I've nominated you for an award. You are by no means required to pass it along - it's just a big thankyou!

  11. thanks Peter - I hope to try rhubarb and strawberry together once we have strawberries back in season.

    thanks Wendy - I hadn't really thought rhubarb and raspberry til I saw the jam, but it is a great combo - have checked out the meme and will get around to in in the not too distant future so watch this space....

    thanks Lucy - being nominated for awards is a great honour and wonderful feedback :-)

  12. The crumble and the enchanted broccoli forest tasted just divine. Also, we made your tomato and basil salad last week we loved it so much. Thank you Johanna for such a memorable meal, wonderful to have it all documented here for recipe reference later on. Such a fantastic site you've created here, a ripper combination of your stories and creative recipes.

  13. thanks Jo - it is always a pleasure to cook for such appreciative friends! Glad you are enjoying the blog, and taking away some inspiration!

  14. I know this correction is a little late (almost a month in fact), but I just wanted to remind you that my name is in fact Tara, not Tania as mentioned in your post! Just looking through my technorati mentions and it came to my attention.

    Your crumble looks delicious by the way ;)

  15. I hate rhubarb! :) do you use it often in australia?

  16. hi tara - sorry about the typos - have fixed them now - silly mistake made despite me knowing your name!

  17. if you want to make this crumble gluten free, substitute the oats for quinoa flakes and the regular flour for rice flour. Super yummy!

  18. thanks anonymous - one of these days I will get around to experimenting with some of the GF flakes! Am planning to try a GF crumble some time, so that is useful advice


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