To serve 3 to 4 people you will need:
- 1 lb 2 oz, 500 g, of either young, tender stemmed early season rhubarb, or forced, out of season rhubarb, which is pink in colour and sweeter in flavour.
- 3 oz, 75 g, 3 level tbsps of caster or fine grade sugar.
- 3 oz, 75 g, 3 rounded tbsps of plain or all purpose flour.
- 2 oz, 50 g, or 2 heaped tbsps of jumbo oats.
- 1 level tsp of ground or powdered ginger.
- 2 oz, 50 g, half a stick of low fat butter or margarine.
- 2 oz, 50 g, or 2 level tbsps of demerara or coarse granulated sugar.
- Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 6, 400 f, 200c, 180 fan.
- Grease a deep sided, 2 pint, or 1.1 litre ovenproof dish.
- You’ll also need a fairly large, deep sided roasting pan.
- Wash the sticks of rhubarb, then discard a small piece from each end of every stick, in other words, top and tail it.
- Cut the sticks into 1 inch, 2.5 cm pieces and spread it out in a single layer, over the base of the roasting tin.
- Sprinkle over the caster or fine grade sugar and pour in about 4 tbsps of cold water.
- Place the tin just above the centre of the pre-heated oven and cook the rhubarb for between 20 and 25 minutes or until the fruit is just tender when tested with a fork, the prongs should go into the rhubarb quite easily, but it shouldn’t feel soft and mushy.
- While the fruit is cooking, measure the flour, oats and ginger into a large mixing bowl.
- Break the butter or margarine into small pieces and add them to the centre of the mixture and begin to rub the fat in until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Do this by picking up a little of the mix between the fingers and thumbs of both your hands, rub both your thumbs across your fingers, letting the mixture trickle through them, back into the bowl again. Repeat this process until you can’t feel any more cool, sticky pieces of fat, remember though that the mixture won’t become very fine as you are using coarse oatmeal, so don’t be tempted to overwork the crumble at this stage or it will begin to stick together again.
- Next stir in the demerara sugar or coarse granulated sugar and leave the bowl on one side until the rhubarb is cooked.
- Transfer the tin of rhubarb onto a clear place on your heat resistant worktop or draining board to cool slightly, but don’t turn off the oven.
- After allowing a few minutes for the rhubarb to cool a little, so that there is no risk of the juice splashing or being too hot to transfer, carefully spoon it into the greased ovenproof dish and make sure that all the juice is added too as it will now contain all the flavour and goodness from the fruit. You may find a large ladle useful for doing this.
- Level the fruit out in the dish with a round bladed knife and then spoon or pour over the crumble mixture, so that all the fruit is covered. Do not stir the crumble into the fruit.
- Now level the top of your mix with your round bladed knife and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. The crumble won’t be very firm to the touch in the way that you would expect a pie to be, it will, as its name suggests, still be crumbly to touch.
For an alternative, why not try peeling, coring and slicing some cooking apples and partly cooking them through in a saucepan with the sugar and water instead of the rhubarb.
Crumble is one of my all time favourite puddings. Serve it with a generous helping of hot custard or, even better in my opinion, a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream.