Sweet, tart and perfectly crumbly. These bars are the ones to go for.
My mother-in-law has this rhubarb plant that was handed down to her from her father. Did you know that you could grandfather a rhubarb plant? I had no idea, but apparently it is like a raspberry plant where you can take a cutting from the original plant and transplant it. This means she has a plant that is decades old and a piece of her father's original garden. To me that has special meaning on so many levels.
"Nothing says home like the smell of baking."
Over Memorial Day weekend, we made a simple strawberry rhubarb crisp and it was so delightful, but I kept thinking it could be better. I wanted it to have a crumbly crust that was more sweet than a typical shortbread.
Knowing that the filling was going to be very tart and sour (added lemon), I needed something that would balance those flavors out. I also wanted the crust to hold a form, but still be kind of crumbly and buttery when biting into.
As an easy texture amplifier, I added in oats to the top layer. Something about oats in a crumble just reminds me of all the wonderful memories I have of home. But if oats are not your thing, you can easily leave them out and it will turn out just as good.
Some Info on the recipe:
The filling is enough to make a 9x13 pan; if you choose to do a smaller pan of bars you can simply half the recipe or make the full recipe and only put half the amount into the bars and save the rest as a topping for later--I recommend trying it on toast...it's delicious! From this point on, I will be referring to this as a 9x13 bake.
So lets get to the reason you are here: the recipe.
For the filling:
16 oz. strawberries
1 1/2 c chopped and prepped rhubarb
2/3 c sugar
3 TBSP corn starch
1 lemon (juice and zest)
pinch of salt
Prepare and chop strawberries and rhubarb and add to the pan. In a medium bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Pour mixture over strawberries and rhubarb. Add in the lemon juice and zest and mix all together. Place the 9x13 pan on a cookie sheet just as insurance to keep from spilling over in your oven. Bake the strawberry mixture at 375°F for 50 minutes or till all the fruit is nice and soft and the juices start to thicken.
Let this mixture set while you make the crumble base and topping.
For the crust:
1 c of butter (soft)
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 c old fashioned oats (save for the second half of the dough)
Preheat oven to 350°F
Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Once this mixture comes together, add in the flour and mix together. I like to do this with my hands but you can use the mixer of your choice. Work this together till the texture is like wet sand. It should hold a form but not be super wet.
Separate the dough into half. Press one half into a 9x13 pan lined with parchment. Press down firmly to make a stiff crust. Layer on your rhubarb filling--I kind of just eyeball it and decide how much I want in my bars...so this parts up to you.
With the second half of the crumble dough, add in 1/2 c old fashioned oats and mix in with hands. Now liberally layer on this to the strawberry rhubarb filling.
Bake in the oven at 350°F for 30 minutes. It will turn slightly golden but not ever really brown--it doesn't contain eggs to give it that golden color.
Let set at room temp to cool, then slice and enjoy!