I love this time of year when everything starts happening in the garden and down at the allotment. As well as all the weeds (and potatoes popping up everywhere other than where they should be) the rhubarb has gone bonkers.
This is brilliant news and with the first pickings there is always one dish I can’t wait to cook – and that’s a classic rhubarb crumble of course. I salivate at the thought of it because (and I know I probably say this every time I post a desert recipe) it’s one of my favourite ever puddings. Definitely in my top five and certainly my crumble of choice.
Whilst rhubarb is the best crumble in my opinion, you can use this crumble topping with any fruity bottom – apple, blackcurrant, blackberry, plums, gooseberries, peaches. It’s not bland and powdery like the crumble topping of school dinners, but instead crunchy and slightly chewy because of the demerara sugar and oats. Adding oats to the topping for more bite is something that my mother taught me.
- 10 sticks of rhubarb (cheffy recipes often insist on young rhubarb which is redder and needs less sugar than the regular sort. I’m not so fussy; if your rhubarb is on the tart side then you just need to add a bit more sugar)
- 100g caster sugar (or more if your rhubarb is greener and tarter)
- (optional) 1 tablespoon of stem ginger in syrup or I use a good tablespoon of marrow and ginger jam (from Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook)
Topping – this can be used for any fruit crumble
- 100g softened butter
- 100g demerara sugar
- 150g plain flour
- 50g rolled oats
Preheat your oven to 180oC fan.
Wash and cut the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces and spread out on a large rectangular baking tin (with sides). Sprinkle on the sugar and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft enough for a fork to go through with little resistance.
If you want a ginger kick then spoon the stem ginger or marrow and ginger jam into the baking tin and give everything a gentle mix (you don’t want to break the rhubarb up too much if you can help it). It’s worth having a taste at this stage to check the sugar level – you may need to add a bit more if your rhubarb is on the tart side.
Spoon the rhubarb mixture into an over proof dish or dishes – I use three small oval Denby ovenproof dishes with 0.5 litre capacity. If your mix is very watery (this will depend on the water content in your rhubarb) then you don’t need to use all the syrupy liquid you just need enough to cover the rhubarb pieces (but don’t throw the rest away – it’s delicious over ice cream).
For the crumble topping measure all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and rub the ingredients together between your fingers until you get a mix that resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle the topping over the rhubarb and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
I like to serve with lots of single cream but you may prefer custard.
NOTE: You can prepare in advance and keep in the fridge before baking but I think it’s better to keep the fruit and the crumble topping separate until the last minute so that it doesn’t go too soggy in the middle.