Try This: Fresh, In-Season Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Strawberry season is nearly over (click here for Farm Fresh Rhode Island's harvest calendar), so there’s no better time to pick your own at one of Rhode Island’s many farms. I headed to Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown this weekend to get my fill, and had a great time running from patch to patch with a really amusing five-year-old to find the ripest, reddest strawberries.
After our afternoon on the farm, which was complete with baked goods, sandwiches and lemonade from the onsite market, the plan was to whip up a variation of strawberry rhubarb pie. My memere, an expert baker, used to make it all the time for my dad, so I thought it would be a fitting treat for Father’s Day. Plus, rhubarbs are in season and I really have no idea what else to do with them. If you have a suggestion, I’d love to hear it!
I’m no pie baker — okay, okay, I’ve never really tried. The lattice topping is intimidating! — but I’ve been cooking crisps of all sorts for the past decade, and it’s really the only baked good I’ve mastered. So between a few different recipes for strawberry rhubarb pie and my own favorite crisp topping, here’s what I put together:
1 quart (or 4 cups) strawberries, cut into half-inch pieces
4–5 stalks rhubarb, cut into half-inch pieces
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
1 orange, zested and juiced (I used a tangelo for one recipe and an orange for another. Not much of a difference)
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
2/3 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 stick butter
Salt to taste
Cinnamon to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the filling, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir it up. I like to taste a strawberry to see if it’s sweet enough before piling on the topping. If not, add a bit more sugar. (The ones at Sweet Berry clearly understood the namesake they must live up to! Not much sugar was needed.) Pour the mixture in a shallow baking dish or cupcake tins.
For the topping, mix the flower, oats and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Heat the stick of butter on the stove for about 45 seconds, then pour on top of the dry mix and add some salt and cinnamon to taste. After mixing, the topping should be a darker shade of brown and moist, but with a little crumble to it. If not, add a touch of water (because, if you’re like me, using a stick and a quarter of butter is daunting enough). Some recipes call for a food processor, but I do just fine with a good ol’ wooden spoon.
Once you’ve reached the right color and texture, spoon the topping over the strawberry filling and bake. I keep it in for 30–35 minutes, but I like it a little crispier.
Serve warm. The crisp tastes great with ice cream — vanilla bean was the topping of choice for Father’s Day — but is plenty good all on its own.