Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rhubarb Crumb Bars (Redux)

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)
Serves 12
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.


  1. maxanyamom2:12 PM

    Oh, I adore these bars...even when I put too much rhubarb on top so that they never quite set properly, they are simply divine. I've made it twice this season, the first time just for me (OK and the family, too, on Memorial Day) and the second for an end-of-year potluck celebration at my daughter's preschool. They are fabulous, and I can't wait to try them without doing the whole syrup thing! Thanks for all your inspiration! Happy Summer!

  2. You won't hear me complaining! I don't mind reading about these bars. In fact, if you repost the recipe a few times a year, it'll remind me to make another batch. My family LOVES these—so much so that I wish I could hide half the batch just for me, but they'd all figure out my devious ways.

    And I just happen to have some frozen rhubarb that needs to be used, so I'll be trying this new and improved recipe this week!

  3. Megin VT4:52 PM

    And no complaints here, either!! We have had sooo much rhubarb this year (usually my parents split the rhubarb harvest with us, but they have been away, so instead of fighting for our bit we have been deluged). I made rhubarb bread, which I loved (find it here http://allrecipes.com/recipe/rhubarb-bread-i/, use 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of oil, more rhubarb, and 1/2 fresh whole wheat pastry flour and you might love it too, especially with the nuts in the streusel and added half-way through...) but it sadly got a universal thumbs-down from the family... the baby, who is not prone to such shenanigans, handed me her piece back with a 'yucky!'. We'll try again when the palates mature! Anyhow these bars are the hands-down favorite, although I have strawberry rhubarb pudding cake in the oven now, to be served with homemade strawberry ice cream. So we may have a close second. Thanks for feeding us so much good dessert!!!! I'm out of butter again!

  4. Anonymous6:46 PM

    Really thankful for the redux cause my first attempt didn't really go well. But because I have boatloads of rhubarb and love it so much, will by trying again. :-) Bette

  5. I have a rhubarb crumble pie recipe that is basically this in a pie pan but with no oats, and it is so amazingly good and addictive that it has become famous in my circle of friends and now everyone has the recipe and is as obsessed with it as I am. :)

  6. You have an awesome blog and your blog posts are really amazing. Can't wait to see your new post. Have a nice day!! http://www.zuup.com

  7. I haven't eaten rhubarb in 20+ years... and I while I believe you that these are wonderful and the pictures are mouth-wateringly enticing... I think you could put just about anything with 2-3/4 cups of sugar and a cup of butter and I would love it!!!

  8. How sad is it that I'm not exactly sure what rhubarb is... or where to get it. If I come across some I will be sure to make these bars though - they sound delish!

    1. Kathleen, if you see pinky-green stalks that look like celery, it's that!

  9. Oh Catherine...these are my husband's favorite. I made them a few years ago when we were visiting my mother in law in Santa Cruz, and she actually gave me a *compliment*! So, even though they required that funny syrup making step, I dutifully make these every spring. How did you know that I brought home exactly two pounds of rhubarb from our local food co op today, with plans to make these exact bars? Then, after everyone else has cleared from the kitchen and I have tucked them away in their Pyrex dish, I will slice off another buttery, nutty, oat-y hunk and shove it in my mouth. Ah, heaven, these are! Thank you for the updated recipe!

  10. Your blog is really fantastic and your blog posts are amazing. Can't wait to see your new post. Have a nice day!! http://www.zuup.com

  11. I just made these twice in 36 hours. The first time, I followed the recipe, and they were awesome. The second time, I wung it, and lo, the masses of butter and sugar managed to rise above my ineptitude (actually, caramelize somewhere below it into a crust that tasted strangely like fudge) and still be awesome. Now to go find some more rhubarb, and perhaps some larger pants. Oddly, the kids won't eat it, being suspicious of the greeness of it. (Evil cackle).

  12. Anonymous1:19 PM

    Glad to see Shannon's comment above, cuz I just made these and realized AFTER they came out of the oven that I forgot to add the oats. Perhaps they will still be lovely...

  13. Anonymous1:51 PM

    Great recipe!! I made these this morning and they turned out delicious! Great way to use up the abundance of rhubarb we have laying around. Also have to mention the latest kale salad you posted has been termed "crack kale" around my home and has my 6 year old twins asking for more! Thank you! xo

  14. yum! made twice in two days. love! i'm a hero!

    the second time i tried to make a reduced carb (<--?) version for diabetic child reasons. this was achieved by replacing half of the rhubarb's sugar with 4 packets of Truvia and replacing the whole wheat flour with almond meal.

    Result: still delicious, still one million carbs per serving.

  15. JoeMama2:09 PM

    I'm seeking advice here on how to introduce my family to the diviness of rhubarb. Should I make the redux version or the original? I am not afraid of having to make syrup.

  16. mambooks4:23 PM

    I have made these bars SO MANY times this summer: As published, because I adore rhubarb; a strawberry-rhubarb version; substituting blueberries (adding lemon zest and a touch of cinnamon); and a blueberry-raspberry version. The "berry" versions require less sugar, and they're all terrific. My family and co-workers have been so happy! Thanks.