rhubarb crumb bars

I’m so glad it’s rhubarb season again.  Even though I had eaten rhubarb in various forms over the years last spring was the first time I ever prepared anything with it.  Rhubarb pie is awesome and rhubarb fool is not to shabby either.

This time I decided to try a rhubarb bar recipe and found one with a crumb topping from Martha.  Who doesn’t like a crumb topping?

This recipe has several dimensions.  The bottom layer is a sweet and moist cake, followed by the rhubarb layer, and then topped with the butter/flour/brown sugar crumb topping.  A major winner, and not complicated to assemble in the least.  Get to it!

Rhubarb Crumb Bars (from www.marthastewart.com)

For the Streusel

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Cake

  • 1/2 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter and flour parchment and pan, tapping out excess flour.

Make streusel: Whisk together butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make cake: In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup flour. In another medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, beat in vanilla, then flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with rhubarb and top with streusel.

Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake from pan. Cut into 16 bars.

I pity the fool

I researched a variety of rhubarb recipes this week to decide what to do with the remainder of my bounty and opted to try something entirely new to my food repertoire: a fool.  I had heard of this dessert before but did a little research and discovered it involves pureed fruit and whipped cream and that it originated in England back in the 17th century.  Huh.  Must be something to it if people are still eating it four centuries later!

It’s super simple to make.  You start by boiling chopped up rhubarb, honey, orange zest, orange juice, a vanilla bean, and candied ginger.  Then you whip up some heavy cream with a little sugar and blend the two together.

 This lovely mixture then gets spooned into individual serving dishes (I used ramekins, but it would be lovely to serve in fancy glass coffee cups or the like) and chill.  This is totally one of those recipes that seems like it took a lot of time to make but it totally didn’t.  I could see it being majorly impressive at your next dinner party.  And you could make it with a variety of fruits.  Impress away!

Rhubarb Fool (from www.epicurious.com)

  • 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick (about 4 cups or 1 pound prepped)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

To make the fool, put the rhubarb, honey, orange zest and juice, candied ginger, vanilla bean, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine, then cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, for 10 minutes, until the mixture has come to a boil and the rhubarb has softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then remove the vanilla bean. Transfer the compote to a bowl, and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes, until very cold.

Whip the cream and sugar until soft peaks form, either by hand or using an electric mixer on medium speed. Set aside 1/3 cup of the compote to garnish the dessert, then fold the remaining compote into the whipped cream. Spoon the fool into six 1/2-cup glasses or dishes and chill for 1 hour before serving topped with the remaining compote.

Storage: This fool is best served the day it is made, but any leftovers can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

rhubarb bonanza

Rhubarb!  A coworker of mine gave me a generous bunch of it last week along with a few recipes so I am going to share the wealth here with you. 

I must admit that even though I have sampled my share of rhubarb pie and rhubarb cake over the years I have never actually done anything with it.  Shameful!  It is so plentiful this time of year and so delicious, not to mention so easy to work with that there is really no excuse for not baking it into everything you possibly can.  Today I opted to bake a pie with it. 

Every pie starts with a crust.  I chose a simple and classic crust from my mom’s 1973 version of the Betty Crocker cookbook with pages that are stained and yellowed and falling out, but  it still works.  Only 4 ingredients in this crust: flour, canola oil, dash of salt, and water.  So easy!  No need to ever buy one of those pre-baked crusts when it can be done so easily (and cheaply) at home.

Once you get the crust rolled out and in the pie pan put in the refrigerator until you are ready to fill it.

Meanwhile, mix up an egg with sugar and flour for the filling.  That’s it.  Easy again!  Then add some of that beautiful chopped rhubarb to it.

Now you are ready to put this deliciousness into the pie shell.  But you’re not quite done yet… there is more deliciousness to put on top! 

A little brown sugar, flour, and butter, because as I often say: butter makes everything better.

The finished product was a big hit at the Memorial Day cookout I attended this afternoon. 

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Rhubarb Crisp Pie

  • 2 cups cleaned rhubarb cut in ½ inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Beat 3/4 cup white sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1 egg until creamy.  Stir in rhubarb and pour mixture into pie shell (see recipe below).

Mix ½ cup brown sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons flour, and 2 tablespoons butter with fork.  Pour over top of pie.  Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.

One Crust Pie Shell (from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook)

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Measure flour and salt into bowl.  Add oil; mix until particles are size of small peas.  Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, adding until flour is moistened and dough almost cleans side of bowl.  (If dough seems dry, 1 to 2 tablespoons oil can be added.  Do not add water.)  Gather dough together and press firmly into ball.

Shape dough into flattened round.  Place flattened round between two 15-inch strips of waxed paper.

Roll pastry 2 inches larger than inverted pie pan.  Peel off top paper.  Place pastry, paper side up, in pan.  Peel off paper.  Ease pastry loosely into pan.