rhubarb and pink gooseberry crumble

rhubarb crumble
I am rather fond of rhubarb, as much for its sour, yet fruity flavour as for its air of mystery; this is a vegetable that masquerades as a fruit - a cross-dresser in the kitchen. Combined with the eeriness of the Rhubarb Triangle and the unearthly sound of nightly creaking as the rhubarb is forced upwards in the dark is a quality which I find equally thrilling.

Since the weather is still miserable and I need a bit of exhilaration, it is definitely time for crumble; (although in my book, every day could be a crumble day. Although if I am honest, ditch the fruit and just have crumble topping with lashings of cream!)

I had recently made some stewed rhubarb (a lot better than it sounds), which is perfect for breakfast with thick Greek-style yogurt or as a topping for muesli. However, it was rather too sweet for my taste, so instead of adding more citrus to sharpen it up, I added a handful of pink gooseberries berries I had growing in the garden. Perfect.

600g rhubarb stalks, chopped into 2 to 3 cm pieces
a handful of gooseberries
juice and zest of 1 fresh lemon
3-4 tbsp honey (to taste)
water (optional)
175g plain flour
150g butter
125g ground almonds
50-75g caster sugar or light muscovado or demerera sugar (but not dark sugar)
35-50g flaked almonds (optional)

  1. Combine the rhubarb, gooseberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and honey in a small saucepan. Heat gently until all the honey has dissolved. You may want to add a tablespoon of water, although I don't usually bother. Cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool, draining off any excess liquid. This reserved liquid is fabulous combined with oil and vinegar in a salad dressing.
  2. Make the crumble by rubbing the butter into the flour, then stir in the almonds and sugar until the crumble forms loose crumbs.
  3. Transfer the rhubarb and gooseberry mixture to a lightly buttered ovenproof dish: (a 23cm one is about the right size. You could of course serve this in individual ramekins as well).
  4. Sprinkle crumble mixture over top until fruit is evenly covered, (I like mine to be about 1½-2cm deep. I love crumble! However, what you don’t want is a thick compacted layer as it will just be stodgy. You may end up with too much crumble, so save that for tomorrow!) Sprinkle with flaked almonds.
  5. Don’t pat down the crumble topping or even try to level it. Otherwise, the fruit will bubble up over the crumble.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Check to see how the crumble is browning as you may need to cover dish with baking foil. Continue to cook for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown (but not burned). Serve warm (you may need to let it cool for 5-10 minutes as it will be bubbling hot and could burn your mouth) with double cream or custard.


  • A classic combination is rhubarb and orange, which I don't actually like that much, which is why I have used lemon. Lime juice or even pomegranate molasses work equally well.
  • Keep the fruit cooking liquid - it is fabulous combined with oil and vinegar in a salad dressing.
  • Frances Bissell in Country Kitchen suggests serving crumble with a crème anglaise made with saffron or a vanilla ice-cream made with mead (rather than sugar, although you may need to add extra honey for sweetness) . . . could be a case of gilding the lily, but what the hell . . .
  • If you don't cook the fruit before baking, then the chances are that if it is crunchy when you put it in the oven, it will still be when it comes out!


Fiona Maclean said...

rhubarb crumble is one of my top comfort foods! you are so right about whatever the weather, it works cold with icecream if it's really hot!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

I had the leftovers with homemade strawberry icecream! But then I am very greedy!