rhubarb crumble

My mom is the kind of person who, after an extended weekend away in Wisconsin, returns home with gifts—individually wrapped caramels thrown in a white paper bag, a creamer set to match a teapot and, for me, a cookbook plus, by virtue of my confiscating them, a bunch of rhubarb, picked fresh from the garden. For this and many other reasons, I love this woman.

The closest I’ve come to growing my own rhubarb, beyond, I suppose, the minimal green thumb required of yearly tomato plants, is pulling leafy rhubarb stalks out of the ground in someone else’s yard, while being told exactly how not to use the fruit that is actually a vegetable. (The leafy parts are poisonous, but the pink stalks are tall and celery-like, easy to chop and turn into pies and crisps.)

But the important thing is, combined with enough sugar to balance its strong tartness, rhubarb is delicious. I love rhubarb. In fact, if you ask me to come over for a slice of fresh rhubarb anything, anytime, the answer will be yes. Always.


A good slice of rhubarb pie—strawberry rhubarb, in particular—is something I’m powerless against. Hot and fragrant, pulled fresh from the oven, placed in a bowl and topped with vanilla ice cream, rhubarb desserts are one of the best and most delicious things I eat. And that’s essentially what I was after with the crumble I made this weekend, which came to me through Sheryl of Crispy Waffle, who recently posted the link on Twitter.


Sheryl says she didn’t grow up eating rhubarb, which I like about her, since I didn’t either, and she loves it now, thanks in part to good recipes like this one. An adaptation of a recipe from Jamie Oliver, this rhubarb crumble is as simple as combining ingredients, some over the stove and some in a bowl, then layering them together and baking. It’s supposed to emerge golden and crisp, which didn’t exactly work with mine (it never quite browned on top), but the underlying fruit mixture made up for that. What happens to the berries and the rhubarb in the stovetop heat and then in the oven is that they become softer, more compote-like, the perfect complement to the crunchier oatmeal-based topping.

The day after I made this, I came home from a morning of brunch, a doctor’s appointment, antiquing and a stop at Goodwill, and I fixed myself a big bowl of rhubarb crumble, reheated quickly in the microwave and topped by vanilla ice cream. After which, I pulled out the swimsuit I bought in September and have had in storage since, grabbed a beach towel and a book, walked onto a grassy space and soaked up sunshine, the clouds rolling by.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crumble
Adapted from Crispy Waffle

A word on the ingredients: Contrary to what’s instructed below, I used one very large orange, which added a strong citrus smell and flavor to the dessert. While still good, this would be better with less orange, so go with the small fruit. Also, I honestly don’t know how much rhubarb I used because my parents gave me a bag of it, and I used the whole thing. Again, this worked, but you should probably stick to Sheryl’s advice.

1 pound rhubarb, cut into chunks
1 pound strawberries, halved
200 grams (1 cup, packed) brown sugar
zest and juice of one small orange
100 grams (1 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
100 grams (7 Tablespoons) butter, cold and cut into chunks
100 grams (1 1/3 cup) oatmeal
a pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).

In a medium saucepan, combine chopped rhubarb, half of the sugar, a pinch of salt and the zest and juice of the small orange. Heat this over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and add the strawberries, if using.

In a large bowl, combine flour, butter and remaining brown sugar in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the oats and toss it through with your fingers.

Spoon the rhubarb mixture into the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish. Sprinkle the oatmeal mixture over the rhubarb. Bake for 30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is brown and fragrant.

Best served hot and with ice cream.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Jacqui

    mmm rhubarb crumble + ice cream sounds delicious! i’ve been thinking about trying rhubarb. but all the recipes i find involving rhubarb are sweet, and i have no sugar in my apartment. that’s right, no sugar. and not because i ran out, but because i never have sugar on hand.

    don’t hesitate to think i’m a weirdo. it’s the standard reaction.

  2. Mamaliga

    Oh dear, you posted about one of my weaknesses! What now?? I guess bake it myself??
    Look what you’ve done to me! Hahahaha


  3. E.P.

    My boyfriend’s mother apparently makes the most wonderful rhubarb pie. I really want to give it a shot, and I’m going to have to try your recipe!

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. postcollegecook

    Wow, so you are one of three bloggers I read that posted about strawberry-rhubarb crumble/pie/sauce today! Must be rhubarb season :)

  5. Donna

    oooooh!! Love strawberry rhubarb…my friend in Michigan makes these wonderful pies..I need some right now!!! Just finished Homeade Life…Molly Wizenberg is a marvelous weaver of stories and the recipes in the book sound outrageously delicious and intriguing!! Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. Wendi

    I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie this weekend. I’d invite you over if there was any left. I too was the beneficiary of someone else’s fresh rhubarb. I did opt for the refrigerated crust, though. Baby steps :-)

  7. Lan

    {confession} i’ve never had rhubarb anything before. until i discovered food blogs, i’d never even heard of the thing. and because i have selective attention spans and sight, i never see it at the markets or grocery store. that.is.how.freaked.out.i.am.about.this.fruit/vegetable. and while i completely trust your culinary skills and adore your passionate words for this fruit/veggie, i am still unable to bring myself to try it. this is just not found in vietnamese cooking. i will however, add this to my growing list of things that i must try.

    eventually. after you either kick my ass or threaten to not be friends with me anymore. seriously tho, can we still be friends?

  8. Shannalee

    Jacqui – Let’s talk about this sugar situation. When you say “no sugar,” do you really mean NO SUGAR? How do you live? How do you sweeten your coffee? What do you sprinkle on your toast in the morning? All of these are good questions, but the most important one is: What are you waiting for?! (PS: I saw, recently, a recipe for cold rhubarb soup – I think it was at Lottie + Doof, which might not be as dessert-like?)

    Gabi – Yes! Bake it yourself! And then have me over. What time?

    EP – I hope you do, and I’d love to hear about how it goes! (I’d also love to hear about your boyfriend’s mom’s recipe!)

    postcollegecook – I know, I’ve seen the same thing. It is the season all right. (PS: Sorry you’ll be out of town Thursday! Next time a great food-documentary comes to Milwaukee, we’ll have to meet up.)

    Donna – I’m so glad you liked it! I couldn’t put it down from the moment I started it, and I love Molly.

    Wendi – I’m still just as disappointed as I was this afternoon to know your pie is all gone. At least I still have crumble left, or we’d have a problem on our hands. And no shame in refrigerated crust!

    Lan – We have to make a deal with each other that I’ll try something I’ve never had before, and you’ll try rhubarb. What do you think? Tell me my mission; I’m ready! And this way, you know, we won’t have to stop being friends.

  9. Amrita

    I didn’t grow up eating rhubarb either. Two summers back I’d got a taste of it while visiting a quaint Florida cake shop….in the form of a rich chocolate tart topped with a rhubarb compote!
    Your crumble looks gorgeous and love the idea of adding strawberries to it!

  10. Jacqui

    NO SUGAR. NO COFFEE MAKER. i only drink coffee at work. i sprinkle my toast with a fatty fried egg in the mornings. i guess i’m just waiting for a sugary recipe that i absolutely can’t pass up (and that doesn’t involve baking — you know how i am with baking…) i bought honey last week at the farmer’s market, though. that’s a step in the right direction, right?

    now, about this soup. link, please?

  11. Shannalee

    Amrita – Another person I like right away! Of course, now I want (i.e., am dying to have) the rich chocolate tart you described!

    Jacqui – I just looked it up, and it does require a simple syrup, which, of course, requires sugar: http://www.lottieanddoof.com/2009/06/rhubarb-mania/. However, I recently also saw this: http://www.zimbio.com/Recipes/articles/8017/Summer+Savory+Rhubarb+Soup, which, while not the sweetness I usually love with rhubarb, looks interesting!

  12. Sue

    Oh my goodness… I cannot WAIT to try that with my rhubarb! That looks wonderful. Rhubarb has such a strange, but addicting flavor :) YUM.

  13. Shannalee

    Strange, but addicting – I couldn’t have said it better!

  14. Joanna

    I LOVE rhubarb. I remember my mom’s best friend making this amazing dessert with strawberries and rhubarb one time when I visited and she sent this rather large portion home with me and my mom. Yeah it didn’t even make it til the next morning. We just kept having millions of “just a small piece”

  15. Shannalee

    Jo – Story of my life!!

  16. sheryl

    Hi Shannalee — I can’t believe I haven’t seen this before! Thanks for the great link. What’s funny is that I grew up in Wisconsin — but as you said, never had rhubarb growing up. I’m glad we’ve both discovered it. :) Also, I’m with you — I almost never measure the rhubarb; usually I just go by the number of stalks at hand, usually 2-3. That’s what’s great about this recipe — flexibility!

  17. Shannalee

    Sheryl – Just returned from Wisconsin after a nice extended weekend away – it is GORGEOUS this time of year! I also pulled a whole bunch of rhubarb out of the yard – we’re talking 20 stalks or so. What to do with them!? Can’t wait to find new ideas. :) (And thanks again for this recipe!)

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