Sunday, 10 May 2009

Rhubarb Crumble

We realised this week that out rhubarb had come in. We planted a single rhubarb plant about five years ago now and every year we strip the plant twice and use it for rhubarb crumble. If you like rhubarb, you should really consider getting a plant. It doesn't take up a huge amount of room, it looks quite nice in the garden because of the colour and the huge leaves and it'll pretty grow on a brick wall. Well maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but it is hardy, our plant is in a bit of a boggy corner which doesn't get a huge amount of sunlight and still the plant does well.

Rhubarb is related to celery. It is a bit of an acquired taste, but its very good for you. Personally I can just sit down with a couple of raw stalks and a bowl of sugar, dipping it in and chewing away happily on it, but you may prefer to cook it first.

Firstly, you'll need to remove the very bottom of the stalks along with the leaves and wash the stalks. If the rhubarb was picked a day or two before using you may also want to string it, which just means to peel it. A potato or speed peeler will make it very easy to do.

Would you just look at the mountain of leaves. It does seem a bit wasteful to grow a plant and only be able to eat around a quarter of what it produces, but you can compost the leaves. There's a old wives tales floating around that the leaves will stop or slow the rest the compost but its a load of rubbish. You may want to shred them a bit first because they are huge.

And of course, because the rhubarb came from the garden I wasn't surprised to find a little stow away.

Start by chopping the rhubarb into roughly the same size pieces. I cut the thicker stalks into one inch pieces and the thinner ones were one and a half to two inches long.

Once the rhubarb is chopped, throw it in a roasting pan and add around five or six tablespoons of sugar to the pieces before drizzling with about the same quantity of water. Then bake at 180C (350F) for 15-20 minutes. You just want the rhubarb to be fork tender.

While the rhubarb is in the oven, you can make the crumble. I used 8oz of flour for mine because I was using a large dish, but a regular 8-10 inch pie dish will only need 6oz flour.

Just remember that crumble is always half the fat to flour with the same amount of sugar to fat added. So mine was;

8oz plain flour
4oz margarine
4oz sugar

Starting with a knife, cut the fat into the flour and sugar.

Then rub the fat in until you're left with a crumbly mixture resembling large breadcrumbs.

Once the rhubarb is tender, remove it from the oven, it will be nice a glossy and should also be a bit pinker. The rhubarb should still be holding it's shape.

Using a slotted spoon, pile the rhubarb into a pie dish or casserole dish.

Then cover with the crumble and press down slightly, leaving a few rough patches and continue baking at 180C (350F) for 30 to 40 minutes.

The juice from the rhubarb will bubble over the top of the crumbly and become sticky and jammy in the heat.

Serve warm with cold cream or at room temperature with hot or cold custard.

Crumbles are a good way to use up any glut of fruit although you won't need to add extra sugar or pre-bake softer fruits such as berries, eating apples, pears, peaches or plums.