Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble
Strawberries and rhubarb have a great affinity with each other – the sweetness and fragrance of the berries complementing the sharp bite of the rhubarb. However, I had forgotten just how wonderful they are together until I ate my first spoonful of this crumble. I can’t tell you how good it is! Warm, sweet fruit and crunchy, buttery crumbs offset by a scoop of icy-cold vanilla bean ice cream – it doesn’t get much better!
Serves 6 generously
400g rhubarb, thoroughly washed and cut into 3cm lengths
750g ripe strawberries, hulled and halved (or quartered if large)
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Icing sugar, for dusting
Vanilla bean ice cream or thick cream, to serve
180g plain flour
125g caster sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
180g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
2 -3 teaspoons iced water
Preheat your oven to 200C.
Tumble the rhubarb pieces into a large bowl and add the strawberries and caster sugar. Use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape out the tiny, sticky black seeds from the vanilla bean, then add them to the bowl. Using your hands, gently but thoroughly mix everything together (if you like, don a pair of food prep gloves for this as the fruit stains a bit.)
Scoop the fruit mixture into a large ovenproof glass, ceramic or enamelled dish and spread it out evenly. The dish I use is 27cm x 27cm x 6cm (it tapers somewhat to a smaller 21cm square base), but truthfully, any dish will be fine as long as it’s wide-ish and not too deep.
For the crumble, tip the flour, caster sugar, cinnamon and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and whiz them together for 10 seconds or so. Scatter the butter chunks over the top, then pulse to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles medium-fine breadcrumbs. (Just be careful not to overdo this or the mixture will start to come together into a paste.)
Tip the crumble mixture into a large bowl. Sprinkle the iced water over the top, then toss the mixture about with a fork so some of the crumbs stick together to form slightly larger clumps and the mixture looks a bit like rubble.
Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the rhubarb mixture, then pop the dish into the oven. Bake the crumble for 35-40 minutes, until it looks crisp and golden, and the juices from the fruit bubble up through it here and there.
When it’s ready, remove the dish from the oven and leave the crumble to cool until it’s luke-warm. (I’m always tempted to spoon some out as soon as possible as it smells so divine, but I’ve learnt from experience that the flavour is so much better if it’s left to cool down a bit.) If the sides of the dish are splattered, wipe them clean with damp paper towel, then dust the crumble with icing sugar and serve family-style, along with a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream or cream.