Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble

June 13, 2010

Aunt Suzy says

Wouldn’t you know it?!  After stating my purist approach to rhubarb desserts  in a previous post – no strawberries please –  this recipe caught my eye.  I made it for my book club gathering last Friday and the entire time I was making it, I had my doubts.  The biggest doubt, besides the adulteration of the rhubarb with strawberries, was about the vanilla.  I had never seen a rhubarb recipe using vanilla.  Cinnamon?  Yes!  Orange zest and juice?  Yes!  But never vanilla.  However . . . I am glad that I persevered because this dessert is really tasty.   So whether you are a rhubarb purist or you already like strawberry-rhubarb desserts, I recommend you give this a whirl.  Strawberries are at peak right now, at least in the Midwest, and rhubarb is plentiful.

A note about the name and ingredients:  The original recipe in Bon Appetit said that “crumble” is the British word for desserts we call “crisp”.  It also called for hazelnuts, which I don’t particularly like, so I substituted walnuts.  I might try it in the future with the hazelnuts, but since I was making it for the first time for company, I felt walnuts were a safer bet.  If you don’t have whole vanilla beans handy, you could add vanilla extract.  I  believe for this recipe to truly be smashing, it needs local, in-season strawberries.

Lastly, I am so happy to have my Hanson Brothers 25lb antique scale when something calls for ingredients in ounces!  I’m not sure of the exact date of manufacture, but it was made in Chicago, IL sometime after 1898 when the company was founded and probably before 1940.  Even though it’s old, it lives up to their promise of “honest spring scales”!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes OR frozen and grated on the large holes in a box grater
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts OR husked and toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (about 4 cups)
  • 12 ounces rhubarb (preferably bright red), ends trimmed, stalks cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (about 3 cups)
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preparation

Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Add butter. I used a technique for adding butter that Randy taught me.  Freeze the butter and grate, then add to the dry ingredients.    

 

Rub in with fingertips until mixture sticks together in clumps. Mix in oats and nuts.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Place 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl and scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; whisk to blend well. Add sugar to strawberries and rhubarb in a large bowl; toss to coat well. If using vanilla extract, add to fruit and sugar mixture after the sugar has been added.  Stir well to distribute.

Scrape fruit filling into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle oat topping evenly over filling.  Bake crumble until the filling bubbles and topping is crisp, about 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Spoon warm into bowls and serve with ice cream.  (oops!  Didn’t get a pic of the finished product with ice cream.  That’s what happens when having company!)

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