I’ve become a rhubarb stalker. It’s kind of embarrassing. In the past month I’ve repeatedly called stores to see if they have it; I’ve traveled to different markets just in case the bigger ones might have it before my smaller farmers market might. I neeeeed it! I know I sound a little bonkers—I kind of am, but rhubarb means spring. It means the start of no jackets, the scent of fresh flowers filling the air, long, wandering walks—you know, all those things I’ve been dreaming about for months. Well, it finally arrived at my market this past weekend so you know I loaded up. Not only did I find rhubarb, but I think I may have found my favorite way to use it—I’ve made this recipe twice in one week—it’s that good.
My recent acquisition of rhubarb happened to coincide with my last week of work. I wanted to bring in a homemade treat on my last day and that pile of red and green stalks were just waiting to be used up. I needed whatever I made to be easy to carry in on the train, something that could be cut into little individual servings ahead of time, and of course, something that would knock my soon-to-be-ex-coworkers socks off. I wanted to go out with a bang, you know? That’s when I came up with rhubarb + ginger crumb bars. The genius thing about these bars is that the base is the same as the crumble on top, so it’s a snap to make.
On the last day of work, I woke up early and made these. A sweet, buttery scent filled our apartment and I was filled with anticipation—not only to try these tasty treats but to begin doing this more often. One bite of these little bars was beyond my expectations. The crust is buttery and crumbly, but sturdy enough to stay in once piece, while the rhubarb and ginger get soft and gooey with the perfect amount of tartness to contrast that buttery crust. And we can’t forget the crumble—oh the crumble. I kind of feel like all fruit desserts should have crumble—can we just make that a rule? Yup, this was so good that when I started working at my new office, I woke up early and arrived with rhubarb + ginger crumb bars in hand.
rhubarb + ginger crumb bars
makes about 24 bars | adapted from blueberry crumb bars from smittenkitchen
for the dough:
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of one lemon
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
for the filling*:
4 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
2 Tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
To make the dough: In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. The dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan.
To make the filling: In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the rhubarb and ginger. Sprinkle the rhubarb mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the rhubarb layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
*I think you could substitute just about any fruit for the filling. If you use a juicier fruit, you may want to reduce the amount of fruit slightly. Let me know if you try it with something else, I’d love to know how it goes.