As I write on this overcast late spring morning I’m finding myself contemplating life, and the changes that each and every new season brings. It’s something like a clean sweep, taking out the old and bringing in the new – and in my work that has a lot to do with seasonal foods, and in some part, the memories that come with them.
We always had rhubarb growing on the farm; in fact we had everything planted on the farm! Mom liked to keep some things planted close to the house and among other things, the rhubarb was in a flower bed just under the kitchen window. (She always kept the chives close by as well!)
Mom would usually cook things with the rhubarb and as a kid I would only eat it raw – with a cut end dipped in sugar. Tart. Sweet. Fresh. That’s how I remember rhubarb. Recently I was inspired to make something with the classic spring combo of strawberries & rhubarb, and these bars are what I came up with.
Using my trusted date square recipe for the oat crumble part, I simply had to make a filling. I knew I wanted it to keep the freshness of the produce, so I knew a short cooking time was in order.
Just a quick few minutes I figured, to soften the rhubarb. Not wanting the strawberries to totally lose their structure and become entirely mushy, I opted to add them to the filling after cooking & cooling the rhubarb. There was still the baking time, after all.
Can you see how fresh this is!! Both the short cooking time for the rhubarb and not pre-cooking the strawberries gave this gorgeous result.
Leaving the overhanging parchment ensures easy removal, so please do this step. You can lift out the entire thing, transfer it to a cutting board and make nice, neat cuts – into bars, squares or whatever you like. It also means you can put it back in the fridge… if there’s any left!
Whatever you do… don’t cover it! If you want the topping to keep its crispness, leave the pan uncovered. As you cut off pieces, you can use the parchment for double duty – pulling it up against the side, to keep the filling fresh. A light dusting of icing sugar is all that’s needed, but to really go for it, top with a scoop of ice cream.