Morning all, hope everyone in the UK is enjoying the run of warm weather I know you’re having, nice to be having a summer for a change!  I’ve been baking again this weekend, haven’t done any baking in quite a while actually, but when I was in England earlier this year I picked up a couple of gardening magazines and one of them had a few recipes to use up your Spring veggies.  Now I know it’s July!  But I did manage to find a few stalks of rhubarb in the shop this week as one of the recipes in particular had caught my eye and I thought it was perfect for a little weekend treat.

It was for Rhubarb and Almond Crumble Squares, and I know the pic doesn’t make them look very appetising, but trust me, they’re a winner and go perfectly with a strong cup of coffee in the morning for elevenses.

We both love rhubarb in this house, it has such a tart tang to it that’s great for crumbles, pies and cobblers.  And of course, the Americans pair stewed rhubarb with strawberries when they stew it down, and for the English contingent, that’s a stunning flavour combination that you really have to try.  In fact, the couple of stalks that I didn’t use Andrew stewed with strawberries for later use, it’s a fantastic topping for vanilla ice cream.

I haven’t Americanized this recipe at all (apart from a few things in brackets), you can easily Google the conversions if you’d like to give it a try, assuming you can still find fresh rhubarb in your neck of the woods this late in the year!

Rhubarb And Almond Crumble Squares

Shortbread Base:

  • 225g (8oz) plain flour
  • 100g (3.5oz) ground almonds
  • 100g (3.5oz) caster sugar (fine sugar)
  • Pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 225g (8oz) butter, softened and diced (2 sticks)

Crumble Topping:

  • 85g (3oz) plain flour
  • 85g (3oz) demerara sugar (normal sugar)
  • 50g (1.75oz) butter, softened and diced
  • 40g (1.5oz) flaked almonds
  • 40g (1.5oz) dessicated coconut

Rhubarb Layer:

  • 550g (1lb 4oz) fresh rhubarb, sliced
  • 60g (2.25oz) brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice (about half of a medium orange)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp (pinch) cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Method:

1. Put the rhubarb, brown sugar and orange juice into a pan and stir to dissolve the sugar and coat the fruit.  Allow to simmer for a few minutes, uncovered until the fruit is soft (can take up to 20 mins).  If you get a lot of liquid from the fruit increase the heat to boil this off.  When soft and completely pureed remove from the heat, add the spices and vanilla and set aside with the lid on.

2. Put all the shortbread ingredients into a bowl and rub the butter into the dry ingredients.  Pull together into a ball, it will be very sticky because of the butter content.  Lightly grease a 12×9″ baking tray and line with parchment.  Press the shortbread into the tray and smooth out.  Prick all over and refrigerate for 30 mins.

3. Make the crumble: Put the butter, sugar and flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Mix in the almonds and the coconut.  Set aside.

4. Put the shortbread into the oven, middle shelf, at 160C/325F/gas mark 3 for 20 minutes.  Spread the rhubarb over the shortbread, scatter with the crumble mix and return to the oven for an additional 25 minutes.

5. Let everything cool for a few minutes then cut into squares.  Leave in the tin until completely cold as the shortbread needs to be cold before handling, otherwise it will break apart.

Notes: I added the vanilla and spices to the rhubarb mix, add your own or leave it out if you wish!  I also added the coconut to the crumble mix as it gives extra crunch.  My tin was 12×8″ so I cooked the shortbread for a few extra minutes and once it was assembled and back in the oven I cooked it for 30mins not 25.

Original recipe appeared in the May issue of Kitchen Garden magazine and is probably copywrited to them.

I found more treats in the garden on Saturday when I was thinning out all the leaves on the tomato plants….

Can’t wait to pop these little beauties into my mouth and chow down!  Love fresh tomatoes straight from the vine!  Judging by the size of the plants and the amount of fruit and flowers appearing they really liked our wet and humid weather.

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