Strawberry-Rhubarb Buckle

Summer fruit season has yet to start and I've already made my first buckle of the season.  I was certain that I had previously posted about this go-to dessert, but somehow it slipped through the cracks.  Last summer alone, I probably made 15 buckles.  

Does that sound excessive?  Probably.  However, this dessert is incredibly delicious and versatile.  You can use any fruit you'd like - I've made it with peaches, plums, apricots, mixed berries, and apples.  You can prep everything ahead of time.  You can serve it with ice cream or whipped cream.  You will most likely find yourself eating it for breakfast.  You can easily take it to any potluck, backyard gathering or BBQ.

I went for the classic strawberry-rhubarb combination, which allowed me to cut back on sugar in the filling.  I'd rather cut the rhubarb with berries than with a ton of sugar and this still ends up being plenty sweet.  I was asked what the difference is between a buckle and other similar fruit desserts so I'll explain based on what I've found online.  It seems that a buckle involves a cake-like batter underneath the fruit.  As the buckle cooks, the cake rises around the fruit, which means the fruit sinks inward, causing the dessert to buckle!  On the other hand, a crumble has an oat-based streusel on top of fruit (and no bottom layer).  A crisp is like a crumble, but the streusel does not contain oats and is more akin to a crumbled pie crust.  A cobbler is topped with individually-dropped biscuits.  And finally, a grunt or a slump is like a cobbler, but instead of being cooked in an oven, they are cooked covered on the stove top! 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Buckle
Adapted from Alexandra Cooks (via Martha Stewart and Rosebank Farms Café via Gourmet Magazine, July 2004)
Yield = 16 squares

Notes: I always have leftover dough and crumb topping when I make this recipe.  In my opinion, you can cut back on the crumb topping a bit or you can use the leftovers for another delicious fruit dessert.  If you are using a different fruit, you need about 1 pound (after removing any pits, etc.) or approximately 4 cups.  The quantity of fruit does not have to be exact.

9 ounces rhubarb, trimmed and cut 1/2 inch thick on the bias (approximately 2 1/2 cups)
7 ounces strawberries, tops removed and thinly sliced (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
1/8 cup sugar (The original recipe, which is a straight rhubarb filling, called for 1/2 cup of sugar.  I've decreased this considerably since I added strawberries and it was plenty sweet.  For other fruit, use your judgment.  I find that most fruit is sweet enough that you need to add very little sugar.  Rhubarb is at the bitter end of the sweetness spectrum, so I'd never use more than 1/2 cup of sugar with any fruit.)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick cold, unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream 

Crumb Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1. Make the crust: Whisk together flour and sugar in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-sized butter lumps. Beat together yolks and cream with a fork and stir into flour mixture until combined. Gently knead mixture in bowl with floured hands just until a dough forms.  These steps can also be completed using a stand mixer.  Flatten dough into a 6-inch disk and chill, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center position. Line a 9-inch square cake pan with parchment paper.

3. Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, 1/8 cup sugar and lemon zest; set aside to macerate.  If you don't do this well in advance and all the sugar isn't soaked up, don't worry about it - just scrape it over the fruit and it will soak in during baking.

4. Crumb topping: Stir together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add the butter and mix up with your fingers until clumps form. Set aside.

5. Unwrap dough.  The recipe yields enough for a 9x13 pan so you will have some leftover.  Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper (or wax paper) into a square, or as close to this shape as possible. Peel off top layer of parchment and invert dough into prepared baking pan.  This transfer won't be perfect and there will be some wonkiness/folds in the corners.  Trim the dough at the edges and patch the corner holes with trimmed dough.  If you have trouble peeling the dough from the parchment, put the dough back in the refrigerator until it is chilled enough that the dough separates easily - it shouldn't just fall off, but this shouldn't be hard to do and warm dough will make it hard.

6. Top this crust layer with rhubarb mixture, and sprinkle with as much crumb topping as you would like.  Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for about 35 minutes more or until golden on top and cooked through. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack, then lift cake from pan using parchment.  Remove parchment.  Before serving, cut buckle into 2-inch squares.  Note that the longer this sets before eating, the less runny it will be and the better your slices will hold together in squares.

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Rhubarb Scones

Rhubarb Scones

What I loved most about these scones were the giant chunks of rhubarb.  You'll probably think as you mix them up that these scones will certainly fall apart with such large pieces of fruit inside, but they defy the odds and stay together nicely.  I was also concerned that there wouldn't be enough sugar in these to offset the somewhat bitter taste of rhubarb.  Again, I was pleasantly surprised as the rhubarb flavor really shines but the scones are neither overly tart nor overly sweet.

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Rhubarb Tart with Orange Glaze

Rhubarb? Again? What can I say? I LOVE rhubarb and despite the fact that it it is summer in Colorado, we have a late growing season and there are still slim pickings when it comes to local fruit and vegetables. This will be the last rhubarb post for a while, I promise. That said... this tart is easy to make, tastes great, is a perfect dessert to serve at a party and could be adapted to serve with most any type of fruit.

We had our first (of many, I hope) summer rooftop gatherings last night. It was a gorgeous, warm evening and we invited some friends for dessert and drinks. I needed to keep things simple because I didn't have time to prepare in advance, so I rushed home at 5 PM and got to work. The Type A side of me really hates taking shortcuts (e.g., using pre-made puff pastry) but there is something to be said for how it simplifies things.

As I said above, this could be made with any other fruit - berries, apples, peaches, apricots, etc. I might change the type of juice depending on the fruit, but otherwise this could be made the same way. For example, I'd probably use apple juice with apples, berry/pomegranate juice with berries and probably still orange juice with peaches or apricots.  You could serve this with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, but I wanted people to be able to eat it while chatting and standing, so I kept it simple and just served it as-is.

Rhubarb Tart with Orange Glaze
Gourmet Magazine, April 2009
Yield = 16 individual servings

  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 pound rhubarb stalks, thinly sliced diagonally (1/8 inch)
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17 1/4-ounces package), thawed - I used Dufour, which comes in a 14 ounce package and I used all of it (it folds out into one sheet
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together orange juice, lime juice, and sugar in a bowl. Add rhubarb and let stand, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut pastry in half lengthwise, then roll out each piece into an 11-by 7-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Arrange pastry rectangles side by side on the baking sheet.  Alternatively, fold Dufour puff pastry out into flat sheet and place on the baking sheet.

Make a 1/4-inch border around the pastry rectangle by slightly rolling the edges of the dough. Score a line parallel to each edge (do not cut all the way through). Prick pastry inside border all over with a fork.

Strain rhubarb mixture through a sieve set over a bowl, reserving liquid. Top pastry rectangle (within border) with rhubarb, overlapping slices slightly.

Bake until pastry is puffed and golden (underside of pastry should also be golden), about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil reserved rhubarb liquid in a small saucepan, skimming foam if necessary, until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 15 to 18 minutes.

Transfer tarts to a rack. Brush rhubarb and pastry with glaze and sprinkle with zest. I had quite a bit of glaze leftover and actually wish that I had used a bit less.

Rob & Jackson

Rhubarb Soda

When we were in Alaska, we had lunch at the Flying Squirrel Bakery & Cafe in Talkeetna, Alaska. The food was delicious but the highlight of the lunch was the "Rhubarb Ade" they served. It was fizzy and lightly sweet and a lovely shade of light pink (apparently I am on pink kick).

Given the frequency with which rhubarb appears on this blog (Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostata, Strawberry-Rhubarb Birthday Pie and Classic Strawberry Shortcake with Rhubarb Compote), you won't be surprised when I admit that I love this tart fruit (yes, it is considered fruit in the United States). It has been a few weeks since we were in Alaska, but I am still thinking of that rhubarb soda and this weekend I replicated it.

Who knew Rob is a flying squirrel?!

Two years ago, I received a SodaStream Penguin sparkling water maker for Christmas (thank you, Mom and Dad). I LOVE it and use it constantly. You can exchange the refillable CO2 cylinders at your local Williams-Sonoma store and by making your own sparkling water and storing it in the glass carafes that come with the Penguin, you avoid buying sparkling water in cans or plastic bottles.

So, I dusted off the penguin, perused the internet for rhubarb syrup recipes and got to work! I wanted the rhubarb syrup to be super-rhubarby, so I settled on a rhubarb syrup recipe from Food & Wine, which I adjusted by decreasing the sugar. I'm afraid I can't be super precise about the yield from this recipe because it really depends on how much syrup you'd like in your drink... but I've had 4 glasses already and still have enough syrup for at least 4 more!

Rhubarb Soda
6 cups (approximately 2 lbs) of rhubarb stalks, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
sparkling water or club soda

1. In a medium or large saucepan, combine the rhubarb, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the syrup and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Use the remaining rhubarb pulp as a compote for on top of yogurt, in a pie or as a garnish/sauce for meat.

2. Combine the chilled rhubarb syrup with the sparkling water or club soda over ice. The ratio of syrup to sparkling water is up to you - mine is approximately 1/4 syrup to 3/4 sparking water but this recipe, for example, calls for equal parts syrup and water. 

I don't know about you, but I prefer a fizzy drink to be sipped through a straw.  These are my favorite!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Birthday Pie

Strawberry-Rhubarb Birthday Pie

A dear friend turns the big 3-0 this week and we are having a surprise "girls only" celebration this evening before the real party later this week.  I have known B since we were in elementary school and we've been friends through very bad haircuts (both of us having "boyish" cuts at some point - thanks, Mom), countless sports teams and boyfriends, and the ups and downs of life.  The celebration tonight is a surprise and I knew that only B's favorite dessert would suffice.  Thus, I emailed her Dad and was told that B loves strawberry-rhubarb pie.

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