Perhaps it’s enough to say, “It’s rhubarb season.” Those huge green leaves, velvety when you touch them, capture sunlight and use the energy to provide the raw material for some great desserts. We have only one rhubarb plant, but the leaves this year are nearly two feet long, the stems are thick and we have all the rhubarb we need for cakes, pies, bars and crisps.
Most rhubarb crisp recipes include rolled oats in the topping, but our friend Rich doesn’t like oatmeal. That’s why when his friend Andy introduced him to an apple crisp made without oatmeal in the topping, Rich decided to try a variation using rhubarb, which he does like.
Thus was born “Rich’s Rhubarb Crisp.” Having consumed a few hundred servings of rhubarb crisp in the past seventy years, I am confident in saying that it is one of the best rhubarb crisps I have every tasted. It’s not too sweet, and the topping provides a crunchy complement to the rhubarb. With a little vanilla ice cream you have a perfect dessert.
Crisps are among the easiest baked desserts to make. This recipe is particularly simple.
4 cups rhubarb
2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
5 T butter
Grease a nine by nine-inch baking pan and preheat the oven to 350º.
Clean and cut the rhubarb stalks into quarter inch pieces. Slice in half any stalks more than an inch in diameter before cutting the quarter inch rounds. Put four cups of the chopped rhubarb into a mixing bowl. Add one cup of sugar and mix it thoroughly with the rhubarb.
In a separate bowl, blend the flour, baking powder and the second cup of sugar. Beat the egg until it is lemon colored and pour it over the dry ingredients. Use a fork to work the egg into the dry ingredients. After two or three minutes you should have a dry crumbly mixture with the consistency of coarse cornmeal.
Spread the rhubarb evenly in the baking pan. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the top of the rhubarb and dot with about five tablespoons of butter cut in small pieces. Spread the crumb mixture over the top and bake the crisp for about 45 minutes.
Serve it warm with ice cream.