Sunday 16 May 2021

Rhubarb Crumble

Rhubarb Crumble
Rhubarb Crumble

There are few comfort foods more comforting to me than rhubarb crumble, preferably served with a generous dollop of creamy vanilla custard. The sweet gingery smell as it cooks, the slightly tart flavour and the crunchy topping take me right back to my childhood, back to the days when the statuesque specimens in my mum's rhubarb drill were taller than me. 

Here in London my rhubarb crowns have woken from their winter hibernation and taken off like a triffids on steroids.  

Home-grown rhubarb
Home-grown rhubarb

I've got rubbish soil so far as rhubarb sensibilities run. Each and every crown that I've planted straight into the ground has promptly gone sick, turned anaemic, and then given up on the struggle and died. Last year, fearing that we were all going to starve under the double whammy of Brexit and the pandemic, I tried again, planting some new crowns in the most humungous pots I could find. I loaded them up with compost mixed with well-rotted manure, and cared for them like cracked eggs. They are very thirsty cracked eggs. Happily they rewarded my efforts with a bountiful supply of rhubarb all summer long. 

Naturally enough they died back over winter, and I kept my fingers crossed that they would remember to wake up again. I was almost emotional when they started to show signs of life back in February, and now I'm positively jubilant that they're bursting with strong arms and lush foliage again. Happy Days!

So, if the gardening gods give you rhubarb, you've got to make rhubarb crumble. Here's my favourite recipe for a tea-time treat (6 servings):

Ingredients (serves 6)

Rhubarb purée

  • 800 g chopped rhubarb
  • 120g soft brown sugar
  • 100g crystallised stem or glacé ginger - finely chopped

Crumble Topping

  • 150g plain flour
  • 85g chilled butter
  • 85 g giant rolled oats
  • 50 g soft brown sugar
  • 50 g chopped nuts ( walnuts, macadamia nuts or pistachios)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180° C/ 160° Fan/ Gas Mark 4.
  2. Stew the rhubarb in a saucepan over a low heat until it's mushy. Add the soft brown sugar and stem ginger. Stir well, and leave to one side.
  3. Crumb the chilled butter straight from the fridge with the flour and soft brown sugar until it has the consistency of bread crumbs. Stir in the giant rolled oats.
  4. Spread the crumb mixture on a baking tray lined with parchment and bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden. Stir the nuts into the crumble topping when it's cooled down.
  5. At this point you've prepared both components for the crumble. You can leave them both to cool and assemble the crumble when you're ready to use it. You can even keep both components in the fridge for a day or two, and assemble them when you need them.
  6. Pour the stewed rhubarb into a pie dish, or into individual ramekins if you're making individual crumbles. Spoon the crumble mixture on top and bake in the centre of the oven (same temperature as in 1) above) for 15 minutes until the rhubarb is bubbling hot.
  7. Serve with ice-cream, pouring cream or custard.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

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