I have never been able to understand why Britain has such a bad reputation for its food. I have eaten traditional English food in London and the outskirts, both in pubs and restaurants; some of the dishes have been so good I’ve dreamed about them afterward. A crumble is a dessert that is very British, and also very good. I believe Rhubarb grows much of the year in Britain because of the rainy, cool climate, but it grows only in the spring in my area of the US, and is difficult to find at other times. I have solved this problem by blanching and freezing rhubarb when it is in season so that I can prepare this wonderful dessert year round. I have now planted several rhubarb bushes in my backyard so that I will have enough to satisfy my craving for this sweet-tart dessert during off-season times. If you haven’t planned ahead, you can make crumble with other fruit, but Rhubarb Crumble was specifically named in the Harry Potter books as being served at Hogwarts, so if you are serving Crumble at your Harry Potter party, it must be of the rhubarb variety to be authentic. Occasionally I have found rhubarb in the freezer section of larger grocery stores.
This version of Rhubarb Crumble is very fast and easy. It can be prepared several hours ahead, refrigerated, then baked during dinner so that it is hot when served. It’s just as good served at room temperature too, so you can bake it in the morning and serve it at dinnertime. I tested several recipes from my English cookbooks and also the internet, then I worked with them until I came up with the following recipe. If you must use other fruit, especially fruit that is sweeter, you will need to reduce the amount of sugar. I made a wonderful peach crumble and used only 3/4 cup brown sugar; it was fabulous.
I suspect that this rhubarb crumble will convert rhubarb haters into rhubarb lovers!
2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (7-8 cups)
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
2/3 cup whole almonds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Spray an 11 x 7" shallow glass dish with non-stick spray. Combine the filling ingredients and place the mixture in the pan.
Place the topping ingredients in the food processor and process until the nuts are coarsely chopped and the mixture is crumbly. Pour over the rhubarb mixture. Bake at 400° 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.