I’ve been buying an insane amount of rhubarb, as is my habit with most hyper-seasonal produce. I get downright frantic about it, thinking each time will be my last time buying it for a whole year. Things I’m not good at: letting go. Things I am good at: baking with rhubarb. Until I buy the last of the season’s rhubarb, I will be here, baking with it to my heart’s content. The other day, I was having a major internal crisis — do I bake a rhubarb crisp or a rhubarb tart? Or a pie? Or a crumble? You know, one of those paralyzing, tough life decisions you face as a thirty-something. Apparently, the New York Times has a name for this tendency to agonize over relatively simple (read: very inconsequential) decisions. It’s called FOBO — fear of better options — and it’s real! Especially when it comes to rhubarb, and the delicious options are ENDLESS.
Okay, not really endless. But, I think I made a great life decision by going with a sort of hybrid tart-crumble-crisp situation for this recipe. Crisis averted! It combines the best of all worlds: a bottom crust like a tart, the easy fruit filling of a crisp and the topping of a crumble crossed with a crisp. I used oats and spelt flour for the recipe, but whole wheat or einkorn (my favorite flour besides spelt!)would also work nicely here. I also used pasture-raised butter, but ghee or coconut oil would work, too. I add a little cardamom to crumble topping, but cinnamon would work nicely, too. See — these are pretty adaptable. Finally, coconut sugar provides the perfect caramel-like sweetness for these bars.
A recommendation: it is important to cool the pan completely before slicing into bars to avoid overly crumbly crumble bars. The crust will firm up considerably while cooling. To make slicing even easier, you can also refrigerate for 10 minutes or so after cooling the pan to firm up the bars even more. I like sprinkling some extra flaky salt atop these bars and serving them with coconut ice cream for dessert and yogurt the next morning for breakfast. Because these bars are totally acceptable breakfast food.
Enjoy! xo Maggie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble Bars
Yield 9 bars
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups spelt, einkorn or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 6 tbsp unsalted pasture-raised butter, cold and cut into pieces (or coconut oil, room temperature)
- 2-4 tbsp ice water
- 2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (from 3-4 stalks)
- 2 cups strawberries, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
- 2 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
- 3 tbsp coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp vanilla bean powder (or a splash of vanilla extract)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour (spelt, einkorn or whole wheat pastry — whichever you used for the crust)
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 3 tbsp pasture-raised butter or coconut oil, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- Small pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350° and line an 8x8 inch baking dish with parchment paper and rub sides with butter or coconut oil.
- Make the crust. Add oats, flour, salt and coconut sugar to a food processor and pulse until combined and oats are roughly ground (I like a little texture from the oats to remain). Add the butter or coconut oil and pulse to combine until the mixture resembles a coarse wet sand. Add in ice water 1 tbsp at a time, pulsing each time to incorporate. Add just enough to help dough come together into a crumbly mixture that holds its shape when pinched between your fingers.
- Bake the crust. Spread the crust mixture into the prepared baking dish, pressing it firmly with your hands or the back of a measuring cup to form an even layer. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes until fragrant and browning very slightly at the edges.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
- Make the topping. Place all topping ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Using your fingers or a fork, combine the ingredients until butter is evenly distributed to form a crumbly mixture. If mixture seems dry, add more butter.
- Assemble. Add rhubarb-strawberry mixture to the pan on top of the already-baked crust and spread out in an even layer. Top with crumble topping, evenly distributing it atop fruit.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until crumble topping is golden brown. Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool completely. It is very important to completely cool (about an hour) before slicing into bars, or these crumble bars may prove too crumbly to slice! You can also chill the cooled pan in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to firm up even more before slicing.
- Slice into bars and enjoy! These are especially great with a scoop of coconut ice cream for dessert or with yogurt for breakfast.