Rhubarb is perfect for the rather cold and moist British and Norwegian summers and is adored in both countries, but the country where rhubarb originates from is China where it has been known for 3 000 years. In China rhubarb is not eaten but used in medicine where the roots are dried. It was also considered as medicine when it first arrived in Norway in the 18th century. We did not consume rhubarb as food until English rhubarb species came to Norway a century later. So thanks, mates!
In the USA rhubarb is called the pie plant, but rhubarb is also divine in a crumble or cobbler. Crumble is extremely versatile as you can make it using many types of fruit or berries. Also, if you have food allergies, crumble is perfect. It does not contain eggs and the flour can be substituted by nuts or oats. You can also use gluten-free flour. However, even simple dishes have rules.
Rules of making crumble
1. First you need a fruit or berry with lots of juice that keeps its shape and does not disintegrate easily. You need a fruit that can stand the heat. A cooking fruit or berry. So oranges and strawberries are too fragile while apples are too dry. The best options are cherries, rhubarb, peaches and plums. Apples are always good in desserts, but pair them with cherries or plums in a crumble.
2. For the topping use mix your flour with oats and nuts to impart more flavour and crunch.
3. A crumble should not be overtly sweet, so add some lemon juice with the fruit in addition to sugar. This will make the flavour sing, to quote Jamie Oliver. Lemon is not necessary when using rhubarb or sour berries.
Rhubarb crumble (3–4):
300 g / 10 oz peeled rhubarb
50 g / 1,7 oz sugar
30 g / 1 oz demerara sugar
40 g/ 1½ oz butter
½ tsp ground cinnamon
40 g / 1½ oz flour (or gluten-free flour)
40 g / 1½ oz oats
40 g / 1½ oz almonds
20 g / 1 oz almond flour (ground almonds)
If you are allergic to nuts substitute the almonds with oats. When I grind almonds, I always grind the whole package (250 g). The rest of the almond flour is great to use in other cakes, like brownies, banana cake and many others.
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Wash the rhubarb stalks, peel the skin off and trim the ends. Cut the stalks into pieces. Place them in an oven tray with the sugar. Let them rest for half an hour – the sugar will start to produce rhubarb juice!
3. Put the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Sprinkle on top of the rhubarb.
4. Bake in the oven for about 20–30 minutes. When finished the topping should be slightly brown and the filling bubbling. Serve while still a bit warm with your best ice cream.
Next time I will continue with more rhubarb, making the most beautiful pink lemonade.