Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars with Crumb Topping

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars with Crumb Topping

Rhubarb was always that fruit growing in our garden that would be plentiful in spring (and by plentiful, I mean overtaking the garden) and then gone for the rest of the summer. We always had an abundance of rhubarb and a short time in which to use it. Many times, we would make a strawberry rhubarb pie or my personal favorite, we would sauté the rhubarb down into a sauce with a little bit of sugar. This was wonderful over vanilla ice cream – some tart with some sweet.

So, when we came across some beautiful rhubarb courtesy of my colleague, Brooke, we had to come up with something a little different. Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars with Crumb Topping combines the classic ingredients of rhubarb and strawberries, but in a bar form. What’s even better is that the crumb topping is also the base of this dessert, so nothing extra needed.

The key for this dessert is making sure you prep the pan properly, buttering both the pan and the parchment paper so you can easily lift out the bars. I would also recommend having the parchment paper go over the side so it’s even easier to lift out.

Preparing the Strawberries and Rhubarb

I started by prepping the rhubarb, which is not difficult but there are a few key pointers when working with it. You want to make sure you remove the leaves as these are actually inedible and toxic. Cut them off from the stems and discard. Using a 7" Santoku knife, cut the ends off of the stems and slice the rhubarb into 1/4-inch slices.

Cutting the Rhubarb with a Santoku.

Using a 4" Paring Knife, I hulled the strawberries and sliced them. I then stacked the sliced strawberries, cut them into strips and then crosswise to dice. You want the dice of the strawberry to be similar in size to the rhubarb, perhaps a bit smaller.

Sliced strawberries with a 4 inch Paring Knife.

For the filling, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, lemon zest and juice, sugar and cornstarch. The cornstarch is a key ingredient here as that is what will make a sauce to hold the ingredients together in the bars. Rhubarb has a high water content so you need it to bind things together.

Making the Crumb Layer

The crumb layers (both bottom crust and crumb topping) are easy to put together. Mix all of the dry ingredients together, ensuring that all clumps are smoothed out and everything is blended well. Then add the combined butter and vanilla extract, using your hands to thoroughly mix everything together. The consistency should be crumb-like.

Assembling the Fruit Bars

Taking 2/3 of the crumb mixture, press it into your prepared pan. The crust should be compact, pushed down into the pan into an even layer.

Pressing the crumb mixture into the pan.

Once the crust is ready, pour the fruit mixture over the crust and then sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the fruit. Bake, keeping an eye on the cooking time as ovens are different. The fruit mixture should be bubbling, and the top crumb layer should be golden brown.

This dessert must be allowed to cool properly so the fruit mixture sets, and the bars will hold together. Once properly cooled, lift the dessert out of the pan and use the 7-3/4" Petite Slicer, cut into bars.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars with Crumb Topping is definitely an easy dessert, but I must confess that I also had a bar with my morning coffee. It’s not overly sweet as the rhubarb really shines in this recipe. It combines tart and sweet flavors with a wonderful crumb crust and topping. So, if you’re looking for something a little different the next time you find yourself with an abundance of rhubarb, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. it’s absolutely delicious!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

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Ingredients

Crumb layers

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, diced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter a 9 x 9-inch baking dish and line with parchment paper that is also buttered.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the oats and both sugars, making sure to break up any clumps. Mix in the pecans.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the vanilla into the melted butter and then pour over your dry ingredients. Mix together until everything is evenly distributed.
  5. Taking 2/3 of the crumb layer mixture, press it into the prepared baking dish. Set aside the remaining 1/3 of the crumb mixture.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix together the strawberries and rhubarb and then toss these ingredients with the lemon juice and lemon zest.
  7. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch and pour this over the strawberries and rhubarb and toss until everything is evenly coated.
  8. Pour the strawberries and rhubarb over the crumb layer already in the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top of the fruit.
  9. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes, until the top crumb layer is golden brown and the fruit filling is bubbling.
  10. Cool and cut into squares.

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