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Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen: Published: May 31
The Spring Song in Vermont!
When the rhubarb hits the farm stands, you know the first strawberries will be close behind. The two spring treasures are a perfect balancing act – the berries sweet and vibrant, the rhubarb tart and sour. The good news is that both the strawberries and the rhubarb freeze beautifully, so there is no excuse not to serve local all winter long.
Tart or sweet, your choice
Rhubarb is in full swing, and our first strawberries have appeared. What a treasure, especially since we had a hard freeze last week. The apple and peach trees were in blossom and thus hit hard by the 20-degree temperatures, so fingers crossed as to the resulting damage to the harvest. It’s always a balancing act, the fruit trees flower, and a threat of frost or freeze in the north is always there.
This recipe is on the tart side, with minimal sugar. That’s how I like it, but if you want things sweeter, add an additional quarter cup to the fruits, and a few extra tablespoons to the topping.
A perennial friend
Rhubarb is a perennial in northern gardens, sending up its leafy stalks in May. The leaves are not good to eat, but the stalks are a wonderful sour that can be use in both sweet and savory dishes. Filled with antioxidants and vitamins, used medicinally in China, it is a handy plant to have growing in the garden. To harvest, just pull out the stalk you want, cut off below the leaf part, and enjoy the harvest!
The occasional treat
This recipe is pure dessert and has a lot of sugar, so it is an occasional treat for a special gathering, and I didn’t even try to make a healthful version. It is naturally vegan, and quite delicious served with a non-dairy vanilla ice cream, shown here. To make this gluten free, simply use your favorite gluten-free baking mix in place of the flour.
Swap a different fruit if you like
This is also the basic recipe I use for any fruit crisp, especially my apple crisp. Although these desserts are easy, there are a few things you should remember. First of all, always place the baking dish on a baking sheet because they often bubble over. Also, bubbling is a good thing. As with making fruit pies, if the filling does not hit the bubbling point, the cornstarch will not activate and you will have very wet crisp, so don’t take it out of the oven if you don’t see the little bubbles on the side. If it is browned but not bubbling, cover with foil and give it a little more time. When you remove it from the oven, resist the urge to dive in. The longer it sits, the more it will firm up.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
For the Filling:
- 1 quart of sliced rhubarb, ½-inch cuts
- 1 quart of strawberries, cleaned, sliced
- ½ cup of white sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- A large pinch of salt
- The zest of one lemon
- The juice of one large lemon, about ¼ cup
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Topping:
- 1 cup of old-fashioned oats
- 1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- A large pinch of salt
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large baking dish, the 8” X 13” Pyrex dish I stole from my mother’s kitchen is perfect (you probably have one).
Place the fruits in the baking dish and add the other filling ingredients. Mix well. Use your fingers. This is about as simple as it gets.
With a wooden spoon, or in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment (easiest), combine the topping ingredients and mix until it becomes a unified mass. Most recipes for toppings for a crisp tell you to just barely mix the topping ingredients with the butter until it looks like coarse meal or peas, and sprinkle over all. But if you do this, the topping won’t get really crispy. You need the butter to marry with all the other ingredients. You want it to look like stiff cookie dough.
Drop by heaping fingers-full on top of the fruit, trying to cover most of it, but breaking it up so it is not uniform. There will and should be clumps. Bake for about an hour, check at 50 minutes and rotate the pan, front to back, if it is browning unevenly.
Let cool to barely warm before serving, so that the juices can firm up, if you can wait that long. Top with ice cream, or dairy-free ice cream if desired. If you have your grandmother’s dessert dishes from the Depression, use those of course!
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