Everything’s coming up rhubarb. Recipes on Chow, in the latest issue of Bon Appetit, and on the Serious Eats foodie blog. It’s easy to rationalize why; besides it’s undeniably sweet taste and versatility, the fruit’s packed with nutrition. Rhubarb contains lindleyin, a phytoestrogen shown to aid stomach and menstrual concerns, and it’s a powerhouse for calcium and potassium. It may even inhibit the growth of cancer cells, thanks to the compound emodin. It’s been awhile since I posted a dessert on CC&T, so I decided to play along and jump on the rhubarb bandwagon.
It turns out I may have been too playful with this recipe for Rhubarb Bars. Baking is both an art and a science; a certain, distinct formula of ingredients create a visual harmony of consistency, taste, and texture. While this recipe may not be the most beautiful, I feel it finished strong in both taste and texture. Sweet, crunchy, tart and moist, this Rhubarb-Apple Delight is a promise that summer is right around the corner.
While mixing the ingredients for the filling, I made a cardinal mistake in baking. I shifted the ratio of wet and dry ingredients. I had nothing but the best intentions, hoping to finish a jar of unsweetened Three Springs Fruit applesauce I acquired through my winter CSA. In hindsight, I should have substituted just 1/4 cup applesauce for one egg, rather than adding the applesauce to the recipe’s 2 eggs for the filling (see Recipe Notes for more information). I essentially over-moistened the product so that the Rhubarb-Apple Bars creation I was shooting for resulted in a somewhat shapeless dessert that you could spoon into a bowl.
These are obviously not bars. In my quest for the proper recipe name, I did a fair amount of research around definitions for baked, fruit desserts. Without oats, nuts or spices characteristic of a crisp, I decided the recipe was more of a crumble; or perhaps a buckle, which inverts the standard ingredients — some type of dough and fruit — with the cake-like portion on the bottom. Alas, thanks to my indecision and in redemption for recipe perfection, I settled on the non-committal Rhubarb-Apple Delight, to imply just how enjoyable it is to eat.
So there you have it. The bars may have buckled in the name of improvisation but the rhubarb and apple combination definitely rocked. Call it what you want; by the time you think of the right name, there will be none left.
Very loosely adapted from Rhubarb Info’s recipe for Rhubarb Bars
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1 cup turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 slightly beaten eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups finely chopped fresh rhubarb
- ½ cup applesauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the 1 cup flour and the sugar. Cut in butter or margarine till mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Pat the crumb mixture into the bottom of an 8″ square pan.
- In the mixing bowl, beat together sugar, 1/4 cup flour, eggs and vanilla. Stir in rhubarb and applesauce. Pour over crust in baking pan.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack.
- Serve warm or cool. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 16 servings.
Recipe Notes: I must come clean. I played with more than just the ratio of wet / dry ingredients. I switched up sugars in this recipe and used turbinado sugar instead of white sugar for the filling, and I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose for the crust. Lastly, the original recipe calls for baking the crust for 12 minutes prior to adding the filling, I completely missed this step and baked the product all at once. Yet like the name implies, it’s still a delight!