Made with beautiful forced rhubarb teamed with complementary stem ginger, this traditional dessert is perfect for welcoming in the new season though still being comforting on the colder evenings.
Oh Spring, how wonderful it is to welcome you back, it's been so many months since last we met. How I love your lengthening days and warmer temperatures, with your promise of good things to come. I'm not alone in loving you, Spring, for the flowers begin to grow, exposing their delicate petals and feminine colours every time that you're around. And for the mammal and bird communities, their thoughts soon move onto bringing forth their next generation, happy for you, Spring, to cradle their precious babies in your arms. Oh Spring, you're my favourite season.
As spring has sprung, meteorologically speaking, though you'd never know it with how chilly it is of late, I wanted to mark the occasion with something seasonal. Being a vegetarian blog, spring lamb clearly doesn't feature on our dining room table, unless one fancied gambling on it of course, so knowing that the tender and beautifully coloured stems of forced rhubarb was now in our shops I decided to go with that.
|Images courtesy of Pixabay|
Forced rhubarb has been granted Protected Designation of Origin by the European Commission and so carries the same status as Champagne, Stilton cheese and Melton Mowbray Pork Pies. It is quite different to that which is grown on allotments across the country later in the year. It has a beautiful pink colour, and is far more tender and sweeter. The forced plant is grown in darkened sheds known as 'forcing sheds' found in the Rhubarb Triangle here in Yorkshire (to the north-east of the UK). To maintain that darkness it is picked by candle light. Should you have the opportunity to enter a forcing shed as the rhizomes begin to grow you will hear an enormous amount of 'popping'. This is actually the rhubarb bursting, this 'sound cloud' has captured the noise if you fancy hearing the plant growing, it really is fascinating!
|Image courtesy of Pixabay|
As well as welcoming spring with the use of rhubarb, I though it only polite to say au revoir to winter. For me, the best way to do this was to make a crumble! Rhubarb crumble! Mmm crumble! It's such a comforting and simple dessert to make, it certainly features amongst my favourite puddings.
As I say, it's such a straightforward dessert to make and as such is great for the novice or young baker to tackle. The flour and cold butter is crumbled together to make fine breadcrumbs. Sugar is then stirred through the mixture. This crumble mixture can then be pimped up with the inclusion of nuts or seeds, though I must admit I'm fussy and don't care for it that way. I like to add a handful of porridge oats to our crumble before spooning it over the prepared fruit and baking it. In this case the fruit I used was rhubarb spiced with a little ginger, a flavour which complements rhubarb very well. Crumble can, of course, be made with many fruit fillings: apple; gooseberry; blackberry and apple to name just a few. As a family, we prefer a 'full fat' crumble rather than the healthier ones with barely any crumble topping. As a result this crumble has a generous amount of delicious topping to accompany the rhubarb spiked with ginger. I often made generous crumbles as a child to round off our weekend family meals - needless to say there was never any left!
Whilst attempting to earn my baking badge as a young Girl Guide I used a similar recipe to make an apple crumble. Our leader, a cook at the local primary school, recommended placing the larger crumbs next to the fruit so that the finer, more aesthetically pleasing, crumbs would be on display.
Before baking, may I take you on a slight detour now, only slight, and I promise it is spring related. Some of you may know that our feline friend is a Ragdoll. He's a beautiful boy with captivating blue eyes. My mum always said that we should have called him Frank after Frank Sinatra! Anyway, being a semi-long haired cat he needs grooming regularly, which thankfully he's happy with. Over the past couple of years I've kept most of his groomed fur and at this time of year we pop it into a peanut feeder with chunks tantalisingly sticking through the mesh. The peanut feeder, with the fur inside, is then hung from our bird feeding platform awaiting the small birds. We often see blue tits come to take his fur. It so amusing to watch the tiny bird fly off with huge chunks of cat fur in their beak. No doubt their chicks will snuggle contentedly into the fur which has been deftly woven into the nest. So if you have a long haired or semi long haired cat, do consider offering the groomed fur to the wee birds; it'll certainly put a smile on your face; recycling on another level!
So, without further a-do let's get to it and bake!
Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble Yum
Serves: 3 - 4 people
Difficulty: Very Easy
Time: 10 minutes hands on; 40 - 50 minutes bake time.
You will need:1 medium Bowl
1 Baking Dish (ours measured 18cm x 12cm x 6cm and holds a volume of comfortably 700ml)
Sided Baking Tray (to sit the dish in)
For the Crumble Mixture120g SR Flour OR Gluten Free SR Flour
60g Butter, chilled (plus extra to grease)
35g White Sugar
20g Soft Brown Sugar
30g Porridge Oats
For the Fruit Filling250g prepared Rhubarb, washed and ends trimmed
1 small sweet eating apple
1 small piece Stem Ginger
3/4 tsp Arrowroot Powder or Corn Flour
2 dessert spoons of white sugar
Serving SuggestionCustard or Vanilla Ice Cream
How to make it1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c / 160 fan / Gas 4.
2. Make the crumble. Place the flour and chilled butter into a good sized bowl. Use a knife to cube the butter. Rub the butter into the flour between your thumb and finger tips, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and porridge to the crumble mixture and stir together until well incorporated. Set aside.
3. Prepare the fruit. Use a paring knife, or similar, to cut the stem ginger as finely as you can. Sprinkle the arrowroot / corn flour over the chopped ginger and distribute it through the spice to separate the small pieces. Cut the clean rhubarb stems into chunks about 3 - 4cm long (I use scissors for this job). Peel, core & dice the apple. Toss the apple, rhubarb and ginger together ensuring that everything is well distributed.
4. Assemble. To prevent the stem ginger from potentially sticking to the baking dish whilst it is in the hot oven, grease the inside of the dish. Place the fruit into the dish. Sprinkle over the sugar. Carefully spoon the crumble mixture over the fruit. The dish will be full at this point.
5. Bake. Place the dish onto a sided baking tray. This will capture any juices which may overspill during the cooking process. Place the baking tray and dish in the centre of the oven and bake for about 40 - 50 minutes. You may need to rotate the crumble after 30 minutes of baking. Use a paring knife, or similar, to prod through the crumble to check that the fruit is cooked sufficiently before serving.
Enjoy, served with custard or a vanilla ice cream.
Notesa) If cooking with later season rhubarb (ie not forced) consider using a little more sugar to sweeten the fruit (forced rhubarb is naturally a little sweeter than that bought later in the year).
b) To make the crumble more aesthetically pleasing, place the larger chunks of crumble onto the fruit first before spooning over the finer crumble.
c) The arrowroot / corn flour powder not only helps to separate the chopped stem ginger, but also helps to thicken the fruit juices which the rhubarb creates during the bake.
If you love rhubarb as much as we do, here are a few more rhubarb recipes by other UK food bloggers:
Rhubarb & Ginger Lemon Bundt Cake by Mother Mands
Vanilla, Rhubarb & Ginger Trifle by Charlottes Lively Kitchen
Rhubarb Vanilla Buttermilk Cake by Lucy at Baking Queen 74
Rhubarb & Custard Cupcakes by myself, Only Crumbs Remain
This post has been shared with:
Bake of the Week co-hosted by Sarah from Maison Cupcake & Helen over at Casa Costello (this week hosted by Sarah)