Saturday, July 5, 2008
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
Using rhubarb in your cooking is like inviting a witty, sarcastic guest to join a dinner party. Its presence alone is going to bring complexity to the culinary conversation. A lot of people love its tart flavor easily while others develop an immediate dislike. Very few people have a mild response to rhubarb.
I was first charmed by the unusual magenta stalks in college in the form of a decadent pie whose memory still warms my heart well over a decade later. I’m especially fond of stewing rhubarb with berries and brown sugar, a combination of textures and tastes that is sophisticated but also comforting and cozy in a way that reminds me of homemade quilts and Charlotte’s Web.
I haven’t perfected gluten free pie crust yet and I just don’t have quite the passion for stewed apples that some folk do - so this year when it came time to brainstorm up some gastronomic fireworks for our Fourth of July celebration, the first thing that popped into my head was a warm strawberry rhubarb crumble. Somehow it seems like the quintessential American dessert. With a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a side of fresh blueberries framing its juicy crimson heart, what could be more patriotic, gooey and delicious?
Fourth of July Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
What you'll need:
For the filling...
2 cups strawberries
3.5 - 4 cups thinly sliced rhubarb stalks, ends removed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 small pinches of nutmeg
For the crumble:
1 cup Pamela's gluten free baking mix
1/2 - 3/4 cup brown sugar (to taste)
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 greased 8 x 8in pan
How it works:
Wash rhubarb stalks well, slicing off ends and stripping off strings. With a sharp knife, slice the stalks very thinly, no more than 1/8in in width. If you have access to a food processor, you might want to consider shredding or finely mincing the rhubarb that way to ensure that it ultimately cooks down to the right consistency. When done prepping, place rhubarb pieces in a large mixing bowl.
These pieces (above) are sliced a bit too thickly for the dessert - but oh so gorgeous!
Wash and slice strawberries, about the same width. Add brown sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg. Wash your hands well and then combine all the ingredients by hand until they are thoroughly mixed - this is an important touch so the berries don't get too mashed up. (If you are squeamish about touching food with your hands, feel free to use stirring spoons instead.)
Leave in bowl to sit - at least 15 minutes, preferably 30 minutes.
While the strawberry rhubarb filling is settling, combine Pamela's baking mix, brown sugar, xanthan gum and cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix well. Melt 5 tablespoons of the butter. Pour butter into the bowl and use your hands to create a crumble. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 pan with butter. When strawberry rhubarb filling has fully set, spoon it into bottom of pan. Top evenly with dry crumble.
Place pan on the top rack of your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. When timer rings, open oven door and place final tablespoon of butter in the middle of the crumble crust. Return pan to your oven and continue baking for five to ten more minutes. Keep a close eye on it during this time as some ovens cook hotter than others - do not allow to burn.
As your dessert nears completion, its gorgeous rosy filling will begin to bubble up through the gently browned crust.
Once your strawberry rhubarb crumble has finished baking, allow it to cool for a few minutes before topping with your favorite gluten free ice cream!
Serves 4 - 6.