Recently, a friend posted on their Instagram a fruit crumble, with rhubarb and ginger. Her children called it “Gruffalo Crumble” which, if you know the book in question, is especially amusing. It being the Northern hemisphere Autumn, I have since seen several more crumbles or ‘crisps’ as the various fruits are harvested. And so I thought it would be good to both make and share my rhubarb crumble as I haven’t had it in a while, but it is always welcome.
Rhubarb is generally sold in small bunches, the leaves already removed. The leaves are large, very large, and also poisonous, so no one needs to be bringing them home from the shops.
Forced rhubarb is not as dark as fresh rhubarb, nor as strong. It is grown in darkness, and can be harvested far quicker, it is usually this type that is sold in stores. If it is grown out in the open and not forced, the skin is dark, tough, stringy, sour and will need peeling before being used. Ask when you are buying if you are not sure or it is not labelled.
Rhubarb is great in a crumble, but can be really sour sometimes, so needs a little help in the cooking. Good companions to the rhubarb are brown sugar, fresh ginger, and lemon juice too. Together they bring out the flavour of the rhubarb beautifully. Some blueberries and diced apple completed my fruit mix for this particular crumble. Partly as I had several apples needing to be eaten, partly as blueberries were super-cheap in the shops this week.
The Crumble – tips
As for the crumble component, its an old family recipe my wife and I made up together, and makes a light, crisp and sweet topping to perfectly complement the soft fruit. There are a few tricks to making it really ‘crumble’ and not just a dry dust, or worse a large thick unbreakable concrete layer.
- Make sure the mix is not too moist with the butter, it needs to ne still like loose breadcrumbs not a dough like mix.
- When putting on the top of the fruit, gently squash lumps together. They will make larger clumps as they cook, to give the crumble ‘body’.
- The Oats I use are ‘rolled oats’, be careful which you buy as there are several different types, these are not pre-steamed like ‘quick oats’, nor are they chopped like ‘steel-cut’ but are basically whole flattened oat grains to get that large open crumble texture.
- Melted butter is absorbed easier to the mix, while allowing the mix to remain loose. Cold butter, is great for a coarse crumble, but can leave drier sections if not mixed in properly.
- Loosen up the top of the crumble with a fork once all spread on top and it will go extra crispy.
- The Fruit
- 500g, – 1 bunch Rhubarb stalks
- 1 thumb sized knob of Fresh Ginger,
- or 1 teaspoon of dried ground Ginger
- 2 Apples
- 1 Lemon
- 100g – ½ cup Soft Brown Sugar
- 250g punnet of blueberries
- The Crumble
- 200g -1 ½ cups Rolled Oats
- 400g – 2½ cups of Plain Flour
- 220g – 1 cup Melted Unsalted Butter
- 100g – ½ cup Soft Brown Sugar
- Pinch salt
- 120ml – 1 cup Organic Maple Syrup – (Make sure its the real deal not corn syrup or maple flavoured rubbish)
- Preheat your oven to 130 °C 250°F Gas ¼
- Wash the Rhubarb and if the skin is thick, peel to remove the stringy outer layer. Chop into 2-3cm, – 1 inch long pieces. Discard any leaf pieces. Place in the bottom of a large baking dish.
- Dice 1 apple, discarding the core; zest and juice the lemon; peel and dice the ginger. Scatter these and the brown sugar evenly all over the rhubarb.
- Cover with a good fitting lid or tightly with foil and bake for 2 hours.
- Remove from oven and add the blueberries and other apple also diced and cored.
- Turn oven to 180°C 350°F Gas 4 and allow to reach temperature.
- Combine all the crumble ingredients except the maple syrup in a bowl. It should form into a coarse, wet crumb, that does not quite stick together.
- Cover the fruit evenly with the crumble mix, pressing lightly onto the fruit. It should start to clump together and in turn will give a better texture once cooked.
- Drizzle the maple syrup all over the top and allow to soak in for 5 minutes.
- Bake in the oven with no cover for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
I like this both hot from the oven, or cold the next day. I can be served just as is, or with ice-cream, cream or custard. I went to the extra effort and made a classic egg custard for this and will create a separate post and link here on how to make.