Oh My Potluck!

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A Spring Day’s Strawberry And Rhubarb Crispy Crumble

What does spring mean? Well, rhubarb is starting to grow in the warmer climes, and strawberries are starting to fruit. But who am I trying to kid? What I mean to say is there’s fresh rhubarb at the supermarket and there are still strawberries. There’s always strawberries. They haul them in from Mexico where they grow year around I guess. Whatever, they’re organic and fresh and delicious.

Spring also means that I start to think about the May long weekend, beaches and the glorious sun that was up for 14 hours and 14 minutes today! The latter point puts me into the happiest of moods. It’s so satisfying to come home from work, have time to bike to the supermarket for some fresh fruit and make it home before twilight. Wonderful. And the amazing thing is that we’re only a bit over a month into Spring and the sun still managed to christen us with 25 degree Celsius temperatures this past weekend, illuminate the clear blue skies and make the river sparkle.

I couldn’t help putting on some of my favourite summer songs while I started to slice the fruit! I’ve had this Best Coast song stuck in my head all weekend so it only made sense to cast a playlist from that. It’s somewhat about summer, surfing and boys. If you’re efficient in the kitchen and not running around changing songs and taking pictures you’ll probably be just finishing the playlist as you pop the dish into the oven. I hope…. it’s half an hour and how long does it take you to slice? Really?

Watch above or watch on youtube.

So, I had my mood, ingredients and music ready to go. It’s off to the races. I actually Frankensteined this beauty together from two of my favourite recipes. The filling comes from a delicious crumble on Smitten Kitchen. When I made it the first time I wasn’t too thrilled with the topping. I remembered my Grandma’s fruit crumbles from when I was a kid and how flavourful they were with rolled oats. In fact, she still makes excellent crumbles. They melt in your mouth while giving a nice texture balance to the gooey fruit. That’s what I wanted.

Strawberries for Crumble

While scouring my random ripped up pages scrawled on loose-leaf and torn out magazine pages of recipes and getting distracted looking at other things I could make I remembered my friend Joan’s recipe that she had published in a community cookbook. I quickly found it and it looked delicious. It even had maple syrup, which was genius because maple syrup is very vernal to me. I had to take out some of the more apple oriented ingredients like walnuts and cinnamon and replaced them with lemon zest to go with the strawberry-rhubarb.

In Quebec (where my Grandma is from) the spring time means it’s time to get out the buckets and tap the maple trees for their syrup. This is why they have sugar shacks where they pour hot maple syrup on the winter snow and twirl it up on popsicle sticks while enjoying french music and dancing. I got to do this once in Calgary and it is one of those priceless memories from my youth.

Rhubarb is notoriously bitter. That’s why my mom hates it. You don’t want to destroy the tanginess that the rhubarb adds but you also don’t want so much of it that it jumps out. The counterbalance is sugar. Luckily, strawberries have a wonderful, natural sweetness that does most of the work for us. There’s an approximate 2:1 ratio of strawberry to rhubarb and that does some de-bittering, but we still need sugar in the filling and on the topping to finish the balance.

For any non-rhubarb haters, it’ll be a great hit. The nice thing about bringing crisps and pies to potlucks is that they work fantastically when they’re cool. They heat up well and still retain their original flavour and a bit of the crispiness.

Spring Day's Apple and Rhubarb Crispy Crumble

A Spring Day’s Strawberry And Rhubarb Crispy Crumble

Feeds 12 potluck goers when there’s no other deserts. Otherwise, works for about 20 people.


  • 2 cups slow-cook oats
  • 3/4 cup spelt flour (any flour will do though)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup amber maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted*
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

* feel free to use canola oil in place of butter to make a vegan version


  • 3 cups rhubarb, chopped into
  • 2 pounds (1 kilogram) strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the oats, flour, salt, lemon zest and sugar. Stir to combine. Add the syrup, vanilla, butter and coconut oil. Mix it up until everything is just moistened. It should still be clumpy. Stick it in the fridge while you get the filling ready.
  2. In a large bowl toss the rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Using a wooden spoon to gently stir also works great if literally “tossing” doesn’t appeal to you because you’re a clean freak or something. Toss (or stir) until the fruit is well coated and all the sugar, cornstarch and salt are dissolved. Pour into an adequately sized casserole dish (4 litres is good).
  3. Remove the topping from the fridge and cover the fruit evenly with it. Bake until the topping is golden brown and the fruit bubbles (25-35 minutes). 
  4. Allow to cool for a couple of hours. The dish should be comfortable to touch and there shouldn’t be any heat resonating from the top when you put your hand over. If you cover it too early the steam will cause condensation and cause water to drip all over your crispy top. Yick. Once it’s cooled you can cover with a lid or saran wrap and take to your potluck. It’s easy to microwave at a party or to put back in the oven for 15-20 minutes (covered with aluminum foil as to not re-crisp the top). Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the flavour of a colder crisp. The only disadvantage is not being able to melt ice cream on it.

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This entry was posted on April 30, 2012 by in Pie, Spring, Sweets, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .


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