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How to make rhubarb crumble

How to make rhubarb crumble

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Sour and tart, yet sweet and smooth at the same time, rhubarb is a real treat for the tastebuds. Bang in season, now’s the time to embrace rhubarb in all its glory by bringing it to the table in a delicious crumble – April Carter from Rhubarb & Rose shows you how.

The classic crumble has always been a favourite of mine, but since I grew up with a cooking apple tree in the garden, childhood crumbles rarely featured rhubarb. Since then, rhubarb has been a seasonal fascination to me, especially the intensely sour and vibrantly pink forced variety from Yorkshire. I even named my blog after it.

From poaching to pickling, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the British rhubarb season, but this classic and simple pudding is one of the easiest and most satisfying. The sharpness of the rhubarb is tempered with golden caster sugar and flecks of vanilla, and the crumble brings texture and the taste of shortbread and pastry without the effort of making it. As with pastry and shortbread though, it’s important not to overwork the flour and butter so that your crumble is crispy rather than greasy.

A greasy topping isn’t the only thing that can make for a bad crumble. Too sweet, too sour, too high a ratio of fruit to crumble, as well as a soggy topping can all make for a disappointing end to your Sunday roast – so I’ve developed a few tips and a recipe to ensure rhubarb crumble success.


Rhubarb tends to shrink down when cooked, so don’t be afraid to pile it high in your baking dish. For the perfect crunchy texture, keep your butter nice and cold and keep the crumble loose when covering the filling rather than pressing it down onto the rhubarb. You can make the crumble in advance and keep it in the fridge or freezer, if you like. Serve with vanilla custard or even cold with Greek yoghurt the next day.


Serves 4

400g rhubarb
1 vanilla pod or ½ teaspoon vanilla paste
75g golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour

100g cold unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
150g plain flour
50g golden caster sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Grease an ovenproof dish with a little butter.
  2. Chop the rhubarb into 3cm pieces, halving any thicker pieces lengthways. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds and toss with the rhubarb, sugar and cornflour. Add the rhubarb to the prepared dish.
  3. To make the crumble, cube the butter, then toss with the flour. Cut into the flour with a cutlery knife until the butter is in small pieces. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs with a few larger pieces of butter. Stir in the sugar and 1 pinch of sea salt.
  4. Tip the crumble mixture over the rhubarb without pressing down. Place on a baking tray to catch any drips, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Serve with hot vanilla custard or cold cream.

For more great ways to embrace this versatile veggie, check out our pick of the best rhubarb recipes or, if you have other fruits you want use, watch Jamie making a fruit crumble here:

How to make the perfect rhubarb crumble

It’s a comfort food classic, and great for when there’s still a bit of a chill in the air, but what does it take to make it just right?

The perfect rhubarb crumble. Photograph: Dan Matthews for the Guardian

The perfect rhubarb crumble. Photograph: Dan Matthews for the Guardian

Last modified on Tue 9 Jul 2019 09.29 BST

I f the proof of the pudding is in the eating, then crumble is comfortingly solid evidence that the best desserts aren’t delicate or even pretty: this isn’t a dish to stun social media, but it will momentarily silence the table. I can confidently say I’ve never, even in the darkest days of school dinners, met anyone who doesn’t like crumble.

Of course, you can stash just about any fruit you like under that buttery, sugary topping – though as Jesse Dunford Wood notes in his book Modern British Food, not all are appropriate – but the natural astringency of rhubarb, an underrated vegetable-identifying-as-a-fruit that fills the hungry gap between autumn apples and the first summer fruits, is the perfect complement, and a time-honoured partner for a jug of custard. (Dunford Wood also has strong opinions about the correct accompaniments to the crumble. He correctly identifies custard as the ideal).

When I asked for recipe recommendations for this column, someone scornfully responded, “Who uses a recipe for crumble?” They’re right: anyone can make a decent rhubarb crumble. But how do you make a perfect one?

  • Rhubarb
  • Light Brown Sugar- I only sweeten the rhubarb with 100 grams (½ cup) of brown sugar but if you like it sweeter use up to 200 grams (1 Cup)
  • Lemon
  • All-Purpose Flour/ Plain Flour
  • Rolled Oats aka Old Fashioned Oats
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Light Brown Sugar
  • Roasted Walnuts
  • Butter- Cold! You want it cold so you can rub it into the flour mixture

Baking is a science and to really achieve the best results I highly recommend investing in a kitchen scale. This OXO Kitchen Scale is the one I use and is also the number one recommended kitchen scale by Cook's Illustrated. Think about it -what one person scoops into a "cup" is completely different as to what someone else scoops!

A Quick Note About Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a great dark green leafy vegetable. It may not be citrus but it is sourer than a lemon or lime. A lot of people don’t get how a veggie can be so sour.

As an ingredient in pies, it has been the secret to success for centuries. However, you have to know a bit about using rhubarb if you aren’t familiar with using it, especially if you choose to use fresh rhubarb.

Toss the rest of the green leaves in your compost or trash. I know it seems like those dark green leaves would be fun to try in a salad, but they are super high in oxalic acid.

More Rhubarb Recipes:

Are you new to rhubarb? Let me tell you a bit about it. Rhubarb is a vegetable that grows every year (called a perennial). It has red and green stalks that are reminiscent of celery stalks, and big, green leaves at top. Even though rhubarb is a vegetable, most rhubarb recipes use it in similar ways as a fruit. The natural flavor of rhubarb is very tart, so most recipes contain quite a bit of sugar to balance out the tart flavor.

The stalks are ready to harvest in the spring when the stems are approximately a foot long. To harvest, take a knife, and cut the stalk from the bottom. Cut the leaf from the top and discard. The rhubarb leaves contain large quantities of oxalic acid which is poisonous when eaten.

How to store leftover rhubarb crumble

If you’ve made too much rhubarb crumble then you can store it in the fridge or freezer. The refrigerator is great if you know you’ll be eating it again soon – it’ll keep well for around three days. Let it cool to room temperature for no more than 90 minutes, cover it up and then reheat in the oven for about 45mins at 180C, Gas 4, or until it’s hot all the way through. Crumble is best served hot so don’t eat it straight out the fridge.

You can also freeze rhubarb crumble. t should last for approximately three to six months in the freezer. You’ll need to make sure that the dish is freezer proof but something like a Pyrex dish should be fine.

When you’re ready to use it, you can either defrost it in the fridge and follow the instructions above for the refrigerated crumble or cook from frozen. Cooking from frozen will mean you need to cook it for longer at a lower temperature. Try 160C for around 1hr to 1hr 30mins. Keep an eye on it to ensure the topping isn’t burning. You want the crumble to be piping hot throughout.

If you’ve swapped out the rhubarb for other fruit, such as apples, just be aware that the colour may change over time as the fruit’s flesh has come in contact with oxygen.

Rhubarb Crumble Recipe

When Is Rhubarb in Season?

Short answer - I have absolutely no idea. I actually though it was an Autumn/Winter fruit, but spring has sprung in Australia and our local farmers market was packed to the brim with rhubarb.

I actually think rhubarb is a year round fruit, but I've definitely seen it more in winter and spring here. Moral of the story - if you see it and it's cheap, definitely get your hands on a bunch! The bunch I got today was only $2.99!

How to Stew Rhubarb

I'll be honest, it took me SO long to find the perfect rhubarb stewing method, but I'm pretty stocked with the result. I use around 500g/1.1lbs of rhubarb which is about 1 large bunch.

Chop your rhubarb into 4cm/2inch pieces then place in a small saucepan. I add a touch of sugar, a squirt of vanilla bean paste, then a dash of water to to the bottom of the pan.

I bring it to the boil then reduce heat to simmer until the rhubarb is soft and starts to break down. Keep tasting as you go, some rhubarb can be really tart meaning you may need to add extra sugar to balance out the tartness.

How to Make a Crumble Topping

I love my crumble topping crunchy and crumbly. The key to making a crunchy crumble is to add in chopped almonds and rolled oats. I use a mix of flour, brown sugar, cardamom, oats, chopped almonds and salted butter.

I use cold butter, and rub it through the dry ingredients until there are only small chunks remaining. When you cook the crumble, the butter melts leaving the crumble topping to become really crunchy and buttery.

How to Prepare Rhubarb Crumble?

Once you've stewed the rhubarb and made the crumble, you'll need to pour the rhubarb into an oven proof dish like the one pictured. Then simple add the crumble on top of the rhubarb and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 180C/350F.

How to Serve Rhubarb Crumble?

This crumble is best served with a good dollop of cream and a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream. I love eating this crumble warm, straight out of the oven, however you can reheat the crumble in the oven for a few minutes before serving.

How to Store Rhubarb Crumble?

This crumble is best served straight away however it will store up to a day in an airtight container. You can easily make this ahead of time however, but stewing the rhubarb earlier and making the crumble separately. Then assemble it just before you want to cook it for maximum deliciousness and freshness.

This rhubarb crumble is an elevated dessert, bringing in warm and cozy winter flavours. This rhubarb crumble is great for a winter dinner party paired with a cozy dish like my slow cooker beef ragu.

Don't forget to leave a comment and recipe rating if you make this delicious dessert. I love getting your feedback!

Rhubarb crumble recipe: How to make rhubarb crumble at home in 4 easy steps

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Rhubarb has an iconic appearance, growing with huge leaves and distinctive pink/ red stalks. These stalks are where the flavour is, and can be delicious either eaten raw or cooked. Rhubarb can be picked as soon as it looks ripe – with long stems, dark red in colour, and fully unfurled leaves.

You can harvest your rhubarb plant until around August when it’s best to leave it to recover for next year.

To harvest, feel along the stem towards the base and pull sharply upwards so it comes away.

For those with sweeter tastes, cooking rhubarb may be preferred as raw it can be too tart.

Traditionally rhubarb is stewed or poached or even roasted and sugar added to soften the flavour.

Read More: Chilli oil recipe: How to make the perfect Chinese-style chilli oil

One favoured way of cooking with rhubarb is to make a rhubarb crumble, often including other flavours like almond and orange.

Adding port or even other fruit such as apples or blackberries is also a delicious way to put a twist on the rhubarb crumble.

Serve warm with lashings of custard, and any guests will be begging you for the recipe.

So if you want to have a go at making your own rhubarb crumble, read on for how to do so in four easy steps.

Rhubarb crumble recipe

Courtesy of BBC Good Food


  • 500g rhubarb, chopped into chunks the length of your thumb
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp port (optional)
  • For the crumble topping
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 85g butter, chilled
  • 50g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 50g chopped walnuts (optional)

Tip 500g thumb-length chunks of rhubarb into a saucepan.

Add 100g golden caster sugar and three tablespoons of port, if using.

Cover and simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes, adding more sugar if you want.

When soft (but still holding its shape) and sweet enough, pour the rhubarb into a medium baking dish.

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

To make the topping, rub 140g self-raising flour and 85g chilled butter together with your fingers until you have a soft, crumbly topping.

Now add 50g light brown muscovado sugar and 50g chopped walnuts, if using. Mix together with your hands.

Scatter the topping over the rhubarb and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.


245g (8.5oz) self-raising flour
165g (5.5oz) demerara sugar
60g (2oz) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
60g (2oz) margarine
1 tsp vanilla essence
700g (1.5lb) fresh rhubarb, washed and cut into 3cm (1in) pieces
2-3 tsp caster sugar
Custard or cream, to serve

Prize Winning Rhubarb Crumble

I have a story to tell you about this tasty dessert and how I ended up with it. I run a recipe/food Facebook group for this blog. One of the members of that group is Pat Harmon, and she’s a “recipe contester”. That means she creates recipes and enters them into contests. And she doesn’t just enter, she wins!

RELATED: you might also like these recipes – Rhubarb Crisp and Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Bars

Pat recently posted her “Very Berry Rhubarb Cobbler” in the group. As it turns out this recipe had been a $5,000 prize winner in 1997. Pat told me she had been a contester for a few years before entering into Reddi-Wip’s 󈬢 Fruit Salute”. This contest offered $50 prizes, one winner per state, and a grand prize of $5,000.

She had already been a finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off (and would go on to the finals two more times) before coming up with this recipe.

“I was a big fan of rhubarb and strawberries together, so I changed it up a bit by adding blueberries. Inspired by an apple crisp topping I had tried, I added almonds to mine. I received two letters in the mail the same day. One said I had been chosen for the $50 Pennsylvania prize and the other said I had won the grand prize as well!”

Rhubarb Crumble Recipe

A couple weeks ago I was at the farmer’s market and there was a vendor with big bundles of fresh rhubarb. I never learned how to grow rhubarb, so I knew if I wanted to take advantage of rhubarb season I had better grab some! I’ve only made a couple rhubarb desserts in my life time, so I was excited to try Pat’s.

A little about the name. Pat’s recipe is titled Very Berry Rhubarb Cobbler and I’ve called it Prize Winning Rhubarb Crumble. There’s definitely some debate among bakers on whether something should be called a cobbler, crisp, crumble, grunt, etc.

A crisp usually has oats in the topping, a cobbler is a biscuit topping dropped on top of the fruit (it looks like a cobbled road), and a crumble doesn’t have oats, but can have nuts. So to keep the peace in Internetland, I’m going with “crumble”.

The Ingredients you will need

This recipe is really easy to throw together. With the bundle of rhubarb I picked up, I could make 3 of these babies!

  • Fresh rhubarb, either from the farmer’s market, your garden, or the grocery store.
  • Fresh Strawberries and blueberries are best for this recipe. Frozen fruit can be used, but you may want to thaw them and drain the excess liquid first. If using frozen berries you may need to increase the cornstarch a little.
  • Regular granulated white sugar is used in this crumble. Brown sugar would be a fun alternative.
  • You’ll need cornstarch to thicken the sauce that magically comes from the berries, and some balsamic vinegar.
  • The dry topping ingredients include all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, and table salt.
  • I’ve used sliced almonds as Pat’s recipe suggests, but pecans or walnuts would be great too, depending on what you like best.
  • The wet topping ingredients are melted butter, salted or unsalted, and an egg. You can use margarine if that’s what you have, though I prefer butter for all my desserts.

Helpful kitchen tools:

How to make this delicious blueberry strawberry rhubarb crumble!

Now please, try really hard to keep the drool inside your mouth as you look through these pictures.

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 375º F. Grease up the bottom and sides of a 13࡯ baking pan.
  2. Prep the fruit by chopping the rhubarb into 1-inch pieces and slicing the strawberries.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together rhubarb, strawberries, and blueberries.

  1. Add in the sugar, cornstarch and balsamic vinegar. Stir the mixture well, turning the fruit to make sure you get to the bottom of the bowl. Stir until all the fruit has a beautiful sugary coating.

  1. Place the sugared fruit mixture into your prepared pan and set aside while you make the topping.

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and almonds. Stir in the egg until the topping is nice and crumbly. Toss with your fingers to make sure it’s completely combined.

  1. Place pan in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. The topping should be golden brown and the fruit mixture will be vibrant and bubbly.
  2. Remove the pan to a cooling rack and cool to slightly warm. Serve warm topped with a big, chilly scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If you’ve been looking for a rhubarb recipe to try, this is it. You’ll be thanking Pat for it. Head over to my Facebook group and join and be sure to let her know if you tried it!

More cobblers and crisps for you to try

I have several of these fruity creations already, so adding a rhubarb recipe to the mix was a bonus. Let me know if you try any of these!

How to make rhubarb crumble – recipe

Crumbles are a distinctly British dessert and can be made with all manner of fruits for a sweet treat. Rhubarb, apple and peach are among the favourites around the world, growing in popularity since the dessert was established during World War 2.

The crumble topping was an economical way to enjoy pies without pastry – with the ingredients of pastry hard to come by during the period of rationing.

So, flour, fat and sugar are rubbed together to form the crunchy and delicious topping we know today.

Crumbles can also be enjoyed as a savoury dish, removing sugar from the topping and adding in cheese, and using mince, other meats and vegetables for the filling.

Many of us have taken to baking during lockdown, spending time creating sweet and savoury treats.

Rhubarb crumble recipe: How to make rhubarb crumble (Image: GETTY)

Rhubarb crumble recipe: Crumbles rose to popularity during World War 2 (Image: GETTY)

In fact, data from SEMrush found google searches for ‘how to make a rhubarb crumble’ had soared by a staggering 1580.56 percent from February to April.

So if you want to turn your hand at baking a rhubarb crumble, has put together an easy recipe.

How to make rhubarb crumble

  • 500g rhubarb, chopped into chunks the length of your thumb
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp port (optional)
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 85g butter, chilled
  • 50g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 50g chopped walnuts (optional)

Rhubarb crumble recipe: Cut your rhubarb into thumb-sized pieces (Image: GETTY)

Tip the 500g thumb-length chunks of rhubarb into a saucepan with 100g golden caster sugar and the three tablespoons of port, if using.

Cover and simmer on a very low heat for 15 mins, adding more sugar if you want.

When soft (but still holding its shape) and sweet enough, pour the rhubarb into a medium baking dish.

Heat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.

To make the topping, rub 140g self-raising flour and 85g chilled butter together with your fingers until you have a soft, crumbly topping.

Now add 50g light brown muscovado sugar and 50g chopped walnuts, if using. Mix together with your hands.

Scatter the topping over the rhubarb and bake for 30 mins or until golden brown on top.

Serve piping hot with a big jug of thick vanilla custard.

Rhubarb crumble recipe: Serve with cream, ice-cream or vanilla custard (Image: GETTY)

If you want to make your own custard, here’s how

  • 1l milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 140g vanilla sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 tbsp plain flour

Heat the milk in the saucepan until it comes just up to the boil, then take off the heat immediately.

In a bowl, beat together the egg yolks, vanilla sugar and flours. Pour the milk slowly over the egg mix, beating well.

Return the mixture to the pan and place over a low heat, stirring for eight to 10 mins until the mixture begins to thicken.


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