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Sweet and tart Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp bubbles under a crunchy, textured oat topping made perfect only by the addition of vanilla ice cream. This fresh dessert is the best use of fresh strawberries and garden rhubarb and can be made in a skillet or dutch oven.
Baking with Rhubarb
Rhubarb is a garden specialty. Grown and harvested as a cold crop in the early spring to mid-summer (February – June), this beauty of a vegetable has bitter and sour notes that pair perfectly with a sweet, juicy strawberry. As a child, I would often cut the stalks of the plant, dip the raw red end in sugar and enjoy. Note that if harvesting yourself, the leaves are poisonous. The bright red color on the stock shows what is ripe and ready to eat. The red-colored portion of the stock also has a slightly sweeter flavor. Mixing the green, more sour, parts of the stock with the robust red portions will give a tangy balance of flavors that beg to mingle with sweet strawberries. Click here for more information on Rhubarb.
Prepping your rhubarb for baking is much like prepping celery. Cut the ends off of the rhubarb and discard. Run your rhubarb under cold water and rub with your hands or a dish towel to get off any remaining dirt. This should be done even if purchased from your local grocer. Next, to prepare it for your crisp, cut the stocks into 1/2 inch pieces. You want each bite to have rhubarb and for the cooking process to be even throughout the dish.
The Secret to Old Fashioned Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
The secret to the perfect Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp is equal measurements. You might not think so, and it may be tempting to add “just one more cup” of strawberries or “just a bit more” oats to your crisp, but I promise you the secret is balance. Strawberries have a higher sugar and water content compared to the fibrous nature of rhubarb. Using a 1:1 ratio of strawberries to rhubarb is extremely important so that you don’t end up with a liquid crisp – there’s nothing crispy about soup!
Also, you’ll want your oats and your flour to be equal parts of the crisp mixture. Adding too much flour will make your crisp mushy, whereas too much oats will be a bit dry and not mix well with the butter we add. For the perfect crisp, just find the balance of 1 1/4 cup oats and 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour.
How to make Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
The first thing you’ll want to do is macerate your fruit. To macerate your strawberries and rhubarb you’ll dice them into 1/2 inch pieces, place into a bowl with cornstarch, lemon juice and crystallized sugar or sweetener of choice sprinkled over them. Then toss gently, cover with cling wrap or a bee’s wax paper and allow to work its magic in the refrigerator for half an hour.
Next you’ll create the crumble by hand in a bowl or with a food processor. The key to the crumble is using cold butter and distributing the ingredients as evenly as you can without actually melting the butter in the process. This is in part why many like to use cubed butter in a food processor or a pastry cutter. We’re rebels and love the feel of butter under our fingers.
Crisp Topping by hand: I find it easiest to add all your crisp topping ingredients into a bowl first and mix with a whisk. Then cut your cold butter into 1/4 inch cubes and crumble through your hands until you have formed close to a pea sized consistency. If the butter starts to melt, you’re working it too much. We want the butter to melt slowly as it bakes.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Strain your strawberries and rhubarb from their bowl and place into your 12-inch skillet, dutch oven, or braising pot. Spread your crumble over the top in an even layer to cover the entirety of the fruit below. Bake for 1 hour uncovered in the oven on a middle rack. Note that it will look a little juicy when finished baking but will thicken up upon standing – I simply couldn’t wait. Top with luscious vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream and enjoy!
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
- Dutch Oven, Braising Pot or 12 inch Skillet
- 2 medium-large bowls
- Cutting board
- wooden spoon
- 4 cups chopped rhubarb Approximately 5-6 stocks
- 4 cups chopped strawberries Approximately 32 ounces
- 3/4 cups sugar divided
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cup flour all-purpose or gluten-free
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 16 Tablespoons butter 2 sticks
- Pre-heat your oven to 350F and place a rack in the center of the oven.
- Start by dicing your rhubarb and strawberries into approximately 1/2 inch bites. Add them to a bowl with the sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Toss gently and cover with cling wrap. Allow to sit in the refridgerator for 30 minutes or while you make the crisp.
- Add the crisp dry ingredients to another medium-large bowl. Whisk well and break any clumps from the brown sugar.
- Add your cubed butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or your hands until pea sized crumbles have formed.*
- Strain your berries, do not rinse, and place them into your skillet or pot. Add crumble into an even layer over the strawberry rhubarb mixture.
- Bake at 350F uncovered for 1 hour on the center rack. Allow to cool and thicken or serve immediately as shown with vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.