Why is everyone so excited about rhubarb? That is what I ask myself at this time of year. When I was a kid, everyone had a patch of rhubarb growing somewhere in a corner of their yard. We kids would pull up a stalk and gnaw at the sour, mouth-puckery edges before giving up and casting aside the stringy remains.
Strawberry rhubarb pie was the dessert the adults went absolutely crazy over. It was clearly a special treat, eliciting mmm’s and ahhh’s of satisfaction. I tried to like it, I really did. But the truth is, I don’t really like fruit pies, and particularly not strawberry pies, which are always cloyingly sweet to my palate.
I haven’t tasted rhubarb in years—no, decades. And I’ve been fine with that state of affairs. But then all of the annual odes to rhubarb started cropping up on food blogs that I love, like this, or this, or this. And I got curious. It was time to revisit my lukewarm relationship with rhubarb.
Last Sunday I decided to make an apple rhubarb crumble for the final Amazing Race dinner party of the season. A crumble is simple to assemble and guaranteed to showcase any fruit to best advantage. There’s nothing like the fragrance of baking fruit, and the caramelized juices seeping through the bumpy, nubbly brown topping, to whip up dessert enthusiasm to a fever pitch. And it was good! The soft, slightly sour rhubarb provided a pleasant counterpoint to the mild, firm apples.
I used about a 2:1 ratio of apples to rhubarb, but you could adjust that as far as you like in either direction. Go all rhubarb if you’re a devotee.
Apple Rhubarb Crumble
(adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson)
- ¾ cup flour
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ¾ cup chopped pecans
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 cups rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into ½ inch pieces
- 6 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 1 tbsp whiskey (or vanilla extract)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3 quart baking dish.
To make crumble, mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir in butter with a fork.
Mix all filling ingredients together in a bowl, tossing until fruit is evenly coated. Pour fruit into baking dish and sprinkle crumb topping evenly over dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until topping is golden and filling bubbles through topping in places. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.