Sunday, 3 March 2013
I am so excited because the early Rhubarb season is well upon us here in the UK. Not main crop rhubarb, but those deliciously pink and tender juicy stems of early forced rhubarb that begin showing up in the local shops at this time of year. It's actually in season from late December on . . . but it is only now that I dare to splurge on it, as it's price has come down.
This early rhubarb is grown like little jewels under cover ,in long black sheds in an area in Yorkshire which is lovingly known as the infamous Rhubarb Triangle! Kept from light, these delicately precious little shoots have been grown in and around the Wakefield area in much the same manner since the 1880's. This is a method that the keen gardener can also reproduce on their own in the home garden and potting sheds . . . but I am a lazy gardener I'm afraid and I pick mine up at the shops.
We have a rather large rhubarb patch in our own back garden . . . and it varies in productivity from year to year. Last year was not a great year, but already now this year those dark red stemmed and greenly crinkly leafed shoots are poking their heads up and I am hoping this year we have a much better harvest. We do love it so . . .
I was able to procure a bundle of those early tender pink shoots at the shops this week, and for only £2. I decided it was worth a little splurge to make us one of our favourite desserts . . . rhubarb crunch. It's similar to Rhubarb Crumble . . . cept I think it's much, much tastier.
I love this dessert, which is so very easy to make. You simply make a crumb mixture, which is used as both a base and a topping. You cover the base with chopped crisp tender pink jewels . . . and then you cover those little pink delights with a simple thick sugar sauce and finish it off with a final layer of the crumbs.
Popped into a moderate oven for about three quarters of an hour and you are rewarded with this taste tempting treasure . . .crisply bottomed, with a wonderful sweet/tart filling . . . and a crumbly buttery topping that goes down a real treat at this time of year.
A little bit of spring and summer's bounty, enjoyed early in the year . . . a tempting teaser of what's to come. Every year I say I am going to use it in something savoury, but . . . every year my sweet tooth gets the best of me and I give in to . . . this.
The Toddster always enjoys his with lashings of warm custard, but me . . . I prefer my custard in the frozen shape of Vanilla bean ice cream. You can't argue with that. Everybody's happy. What more could you possibly ask for??
An oldie but a goodie. I don't know anyone who doesn't love this!
100g of plain flour (1 cup)
60g old fashioned oats (3/4 cup)
200g soft light brown sugar (1 cup, packed)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
115g of butter, melted (1/2 cup)
450g of diced fresh rhubarb (about 4 cups)
For the sauce:
190g granulated sugar (1 cup)
2 TBS corn flour (corn starch)
250ml of water (1 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 9 inch square baking dish. Set aside.
Stir the flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon together. Stir in the melted butter until combined completely with no dry pockets. Press half of the crumbs into the prepared baking dish. Scatter the chopped rhubarb over top.
Combine the sugar, corn flour, water and vanilla for the sauce. Bring to the boil and cook until thick and clear. Pour this mixture evenly over top of the rhubarb. Top with the remainder of the crumb mixture, pressing it down gently.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown and bubbling at the edges.
Allow to stand for about 15 minutes, then cut into squares to serve. Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream or custard, or plain pouring cream.