Rhubarb Crumble

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Oh, how I love rhubarb! It might just be the happiest fruit (if it can be called a fruit…) of all. There is something invigorating in its sharp tartness and its joyful ruby red and lime green colors. I love rhubarb. It gives me hope that spring is just around the corner.

Here in London we have had plenty of rhubarb and have even seen, one by one, the snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils emerge, but unfortunately we have yet to have any warm weather. With the extra time off over Easter, it would have been nice to have some sun, but I guess that’s just wishful thinking. At least I have this rhubarb crumble to console me and buoy my spirits until spring does arrive!

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Growing up, the main way I experienced rhubarb was what my mom called ‘stewed rhubarb’. Has anyone else heard of this? It’s basically a rhubarb compote (rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice boiled down to a sweet pulpy mixture) that we would eat on toast, yogurt, or oatmeal. It was delicious, but more of a breakfast food than dessert.

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I hadn’t really thought any more about stewed rhubarb until a couple of years ago when, spying some rhubarb in a shop, my boyfriend commented how much he loved rhubarb crumble. I had never tried it, so I looked up a recipe and made one. It was fantastic: the perfect mix of tart and sweet, wet and dry, soft and crunchy. It is oh so lovely and the perfect springtime alternative to the more autumnal apple or pear crumbles.

The recipe below is a mix of several rhubarb crumble recipes, but is basically my mom’s stewed rhubarb  with a simple crumble topping. It’s infinitely adaptable and all ingredients may be adjusted to taste.

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Rhubarb Crumble

Rhubarb stalks 500 g (5-6 stalks)
Sugar 100g (1/2 cup)
Juice from 1 lemon
Flour 125 g (1 cup)
Butter, chilled and cut into small cubes 85 g (6 tablespoons)
Brown sugar 50 g (1/4 cup)

Chop the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces and place it in a small pan with the sugar and lemon juice. Stir to combine, place over low heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft but still mostly holding its shape. Pour it into a small baking dish.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 200 C/180 C fan (400 F). In a small bowl, rub together the flour and butter with your fingers until it forms small crumbs. Mix in the sugar gently (you could also add in a handful of chopped nuts or some oats here if you like). Spread the topping evenly over the rhubarb, place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until it is an even golden brown and the rhubarb is bubbling. If you’re feeling British, serve it with warm custard, cream, or ice cream.

Enjoy, and happy Easter!

– Helena


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