Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Yup, rhubarb again. The good news is that I'm almost out of rhubarb now (only one stalk left), the bad news is that Spring has just begun. Well, I suppose it's only bad news if you don't like rhubarb. To review, I've made Rhubarb Crumb Cake, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, and now Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble -- that's a lot of rhubarb for one week.

In the end, the crumb cake was a complete success -- everything you could want from a fruit crumb cake. The only drawback to the cake was that it dirtied a lot of dishes to make, but that's not the end of the world. The pie... not quite a success, but not quite an unmitigated disaster either. The crust, as usual, was tough and chewy and crispy -- nothing like the pie crust I was hoping for, and the filling didn't set up properly at all. However, if you forgave the texture of the crust, it tasted just fine, and if you like your fillings a little runny, this one was delicious.

And then the crumble. I had really high hopes for the crumble. Smitten Kitchen confessed her love for crisps and then said this crumble was better so I chose to do this over the crisp that would have had a brown sugar, oatmeal and cinnamon topping. Instead, I went with the white flour and sugar topping with some baking powder. Next time, I will definitely do a crisp instead. Nothing against Smitten Kitchen or her recipe of course, I suspect I was just looking for something different (more crisp like) out of this and was disappointed that I didn't get it.

When I pulled the crumble from the oven I was pretty excited because it looked perfect. But one taste and I knew it was not quite what I was looking for. There are no spices in the cake -- only a little salt and while the white sugar added sweetness it didn't add much flavor. The only flavor was really the rhubarb and strawberries and while those are great flavors, mine were a little tart and I wanted some complex sweet flavors to contrast with the tart. I ended up mixing up some cinnamon sugar and sprinkling it over the top of the finished product, but it only helped a bit.

My other objection is that the crumble topping doesn't offer any contrasting crunch -- I wanted almonds or oatmeal to give it some mouth feel and chew -- which of course a crisp would have given me, but a crumble doesn't really offer. I think I have to chalk this experience up to me not really thinking through the differences between a crisp and a crumble, because if I had I would have realized instantly that a crisp was exactly what I was looking for as far as flavor and texture, and that a crumble -- no matter how good -- just wasn't going to fit the bill.

For the topping:
1 1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Demerara sugar (or turbinado sugar, or Sugar in the Raw)

Zest of one lemon

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

1 ½ cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 quart strawberries plus a few extras, hulled, quartered
Juice of one lemon ½ cup sugar ½ cup flour
Pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare topping: In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars and lemon zest and add the melted butter. Mix until small and large clumps form. Refrigerate until needed.

2. Prepare filling: Toss rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, flour and pinch of salt in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

3. Remove topping from refrigerator and cover fruit thickly and evenly with topping. Place pie plate on a (foil-lined, if you really want to think ahead) baking sheet, and bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbling beneath, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.


Anonymous said...

a good theme week for you would be monday: cobbler
tuesday: crisp
wednesday: slump
thursday: crumble
friday: grunt

just a thought :)

Anonymous said...

a crisp would've been mighty good, i'm sure, but so was this in my opinion. simple and tasty.

Mira said...

i didn't get a chance to go and taste this, unfortunately. soooo do you need some butterscotch chips? i think i could pick some up this weekend. :) what else do your mice like to nibble?