I've taken a classic rhubarb crumble and pimped the recipe. The flavour of the rhubarb has been enhanced with stem ginger and the basic crumble has nuts and oats added for extra texture and crunch.
Rhubarb crumble! Mmm! It’s such a comforting and simple dessert to make, it certainly features amongst my favourite puddings.
This easy dessert is great for the novice or young baker to tackle. The flour and cold butter are rubbed together until they look like coarse breadcrumbs. Then just enough sugar to sweeten the crumble is stirred through the mixture and you have the classic crumble mixture.
But the great thing is this crumble mixture can then be pimped up with the inclusion of nuts or seeds for extra crunch.
I also 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 crumble (such as this one from recipes made easy); gooseberry crumble and blackberry & apple are probably the most classic of British crumbles but those made with more exotic fruits such as peaches are fast climbing in popularity.
A little bit of crumble history
Crumble became really popular during world war II as a dish similar to a pie but using much less butter and flour which were in short supply. And of course, sugar was also in short supply so crumbles also gave a bit of a sweet hit with the natural sweetness of the fruit?
Now crumble is comfort food at its best and a little indulgence. As a family, we prefer a generous amount of crumble to fruit rather than the healthier ones with barely any crumble topping.
So, this crumble has a generous amount of delicious topping to accompany the rhubarb spiked with ginger. I'm sure it is very different from the crumbles of the wartime era.
Being a bit of a traditionalist I love this (actually all) crumble(s) served with lashings of custard, but it is also great with ice cream or fresh cream.
Forced rhubarb or garden rhubarb
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 and gardens 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 in Yorkshire (to the north-east of the UK). To maintain that darkness it is picked by candlelight. 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!
You can make this crumble with either. There is something rather special about that first crumble of the year made with forced rhubarb (you might want to reduce the sugar a little as it tends to be naturally sweeter) but it's still pretty amazing made with main crop garden rhubarb.
If you love rhubarb as much as we do, here are a few more rhubarb recipes by other UK food bloggers:
Puit's D'Amour with Rhubarb Compote – Recipes Made Easy
Rhubarb Vanilla Buttermilk Cake – Lucy at Baking Queen 74
Rhubarb Cake with Elderflower Icing – Recipes Made Easy
Let's make Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble
Rhubarb and ginger crumble
- 750ml (1¼pt) shallow baking dish
- 150 g (5oz) plain flour (all purpose)
- 75 g (3oz) butter chilled and cut into cubes
- 75 g (3oz) golden caster sugar
- 50 g (2oz) porridge oats
- 50 g (2oz) hazelnuts corasely chpped
- 450 g (1lb) rhubarb washed and ends trimmed
- 25 g (1oz) stem ginger
- ¾ teaspoon arrowroot or cornflour (cornstarch)
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- custard, cream or vanilla ice cream to serve
To make the crumble mixture
- Preheat the oven to 180℃ (160℃ fan)/350°F/gas mark 4.
- Place t150g (5oz) flour flour and 75g (3oz) butter into a good sized bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add 75g (3oz) caster sugar, 50g (2oz) porridge and 50g (2oz) chopped nuts to the crumble mixture and stir together until well incorporated. Set aside.
To make the filling
- Cut 450g (1lb) rhubarb stems into chunks about 3 – 4cm (1½ in)long. Finely chop 25g (1oz) stem ginger and sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon arrowroot or cornflour and toss to coat the pieces.
- Place the fruit in a bkaing dish and sprinkle with 3 tablespoon sugar, toss to combine.
- Spoon the crumble mixture over the fruit.
- Place the dish onto a sided baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for about 40 – 50 minutes.
- Enjoy, served with custard or a vanilla ice cream.
- You can use blanched or unblanched hazelnuts in this recipe. I used unblanched.
- The arrowroot/cornflour not only helps to separate the chopped stem ginger, so that they are distributed evenly throughout the crumble, but also helps to thicken the fruit juices which the rhubarb creates during the bake.
- Placing the dish on a baking tray will capture any juices that may overspill during cooking, preventing them from burning on the base of the oven.