If the same recipe is posted again in a forest, and everybody sighs irritatedly, can you still hear them? Not if it’s an online forest. Although I can sense the sighing, and I’m sorry. But here’s the thing: I figured out how to make this without the weird syrup-making stage and with the ease of the mixer, and so I must share again. Because these bars? They are conversation stoppers. Truly. People will take a bite and say,
“Oh my God, how much butter is in these?”
“This is the best thing I have ever eaten. What is it?” And what they are is buttery-rich and sticky-edged, rhubarb-pink and
caramel-sweet. There’s some oaty warmth, some jaw-cramping tartness, a lot of
ooh-aah perfection. You will be a hero for one day. And you will have to generate a kind of humble rhubarb schtick, so that it won't seem like it's going to your head.
|We are not cooked yet. That's why you're not drooling.|
I have made them three times in ten days. So I have actually been a hero for three days. ("These old bars? Pshaw.") At a weekend potluck, at which other people were given vague directions towards salad or side dish, I was assigned this specific thing, with lots of Ha ha, but only if you don’t mind making them again, but bring the rhubarb crumb bars or else. So I did.
Rhubarb Crumb Bars (Redux)
Active time: 20 minutes; total time 1 hour and 10 minutes.
6 cups sliced rhubarb (about 2 pounds before trimming and cleaning)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole-wheat or whole-spelt flour (this is not a health concession: it actually makes it better)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 cup butter (2 sticks; I use salted), slightly softened and sliced into small pieces
1 cup rolled oats
Heat the oven to 375 and heavily grease a lasagna-sized (11- by 7-inch) baking dish. I confess to using that unholy Pam baking spray--the kind that comes out of the can like foaming extraterrestrial phlegm but really keeps everything from sticking.
In a large bowl, stir together the rhubarb, white sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla.
Stir together the brown sugar, flours, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Now add the butter, and beat it together until it just looks clump and fairly amalgamated. Add the oats and mix until they more or less disappear—just a few more spurts of mixage.
Reserve a heaping cup of this mixture, and press the rest of into the baking dish, breaking it up to distribute it, and patting it down firmly to form a bottom crust.
Pour in the rhubarb mixture, and spread it evenly over the crust. Sprinkle with the reserved oat mixture, breaking it up to dot it evenly over the fruit. Bake until the top and bottom are deeply browned but not burning—40-55 minutes. Serve in squares, warm or at room temperature, with or without whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.