Strawberry rhubarb crumble is a classic summer must. The enticing aromas of cardamom, orange, and cinnamon make the jammy filling unexpected while the gingery brown sugary crumble is irresistible. The balsamic drizzle takes it over the top.
Rhubarb season is so short that in June I show up early in the morning at our local market to speak to Richie Pimento, the produce manager. (Quite an apt name, don’t you think?) Before the rhubarb goes out to the coolers, he lets me rummage through the boxes for the best stalks. I like long, sturdy stalks with a deep ruby color, if I can find them.
Once home, I put the rhubarb to good use in all sorts of dishes: pies, crisps, and this crumble. What I like about this dessert–or breakfast, ahem!–is the addition of ginger and cardamon. Plus the crumble calls for brown sugar, just a little extra bass note of molasses, which is lovely.
What really kicks this into high gear is the balsamic drizzle. I suggest serving it in a small creamer so people can add it to their portion ’til their heart’s content. If it thickens, stir in a teaspoon or two of hot water.–David Leite
CAN I USE MORE TOPPING?
So many people (including our testers) love the crumble topping, I’ve been asked if it can be increased. Indeed it can. I’ve made 1 1/2 batches without a problem. Mind you, the pan will be mighty full and the crumble will need to cook a bit longer.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble with Balsamic Drizzle
- Unsalted butter softened to room temperature, for the pan
For the strawberry-rhubarb filling
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest preferably organic
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh rhubarb trimmed and sliced into 1-inch (25-mm) pieces
- 1 pound strawberries hulled and cut in half
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Large pinch of kosher salt
For the crumble topping
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Large pinch of kosher salt
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter slightly softened, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) cubes
For the balsamic drizzle (optional)
- 1/2 cup confectioners' or powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar*
- Pinch of kosher salt
Preheat the oven
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and crank the heat to 425°F (218°C).
- Generously butter an 8-by 8-inch (20-by 20-cm) square ovenproof baking dish.
Make the strawberry-rhubarb filling
- In a large bowl, rub the orange zest into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar turns a marvelous light orange and is fragrant.
- Stir the rest of the filling ingredients into the orange sugar and spoon it into the baking dish. Smooth the top.
Make the crumble topping
- Evenly sprinkle the topping over the filling, making sure you have no holidays--those pesky holes where you can see filling.
- Bake the crumble until the topping is golden brown and the juices bubble around the edges, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Let the crumble cool almost completely before serving.
Make the balsamic drizzle (optional)
- Just before serving, in a small bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, balsamic vinegar, and salt until smooth. If the drizzle needs to be thinner, add a bit of water as more vinegar with throw off the sweet-tart balance.
- Serve the strawberry rhubarb crumble and pass the balsamic drizzle, letting everyone add as much as they like. Acknowledge the applause.
*What kind of balsamic vinegar should I use?There are 3 categories of balsamic vinegar—traditional, condiment, and imitation. The one you want here is condiment or "condimento balsamico", identifiable by the I.G.P. (indicazione geografica protetta-protected geographical indentification) designation on the label. Condiment balsamic is the most widely used version of balsamic—it's still balsamic but not the strictly produced or expensive top-shelf stuff. It's the most versatile and you can get a decent bottle for a decent price. Darker condiment balsamic vinegars are sweeter and better for drizzling, just like in this recipe.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
We loved the combination of sweet-tart filling, crisp topping, and tangy balsamic glaze in this strawberry rhubarb crumble with balsamic drizzle. There was plenty of fruit to create a thick, jammy soft fruit layer, and the amount of crisp topping was just right.
Definitely will be a keeper to return to every rhubarb season. I cooked my crisp in an 8-by 8-inch glass baking dish and found I needed 42 minutes to get it bubbling. The filling did bubble up around the crisp on the edges.
This strawberry rhubarb crumble with balsamic drizzle is a wonderfully easy dessert to showcase strawberries and rhubarb when they're in season. I've made many crumbles, but what really differentiated this one for me was the addition of cardamom. I loved it!
The balsamic drizzle was interesting and had my testers split down the middle—half loved the crumble with the drizzle, half absolutely preferred it without. For me, the rhubarb was tart enough that I preferred it as is, without the additional acidity from the balsamic. I just served my crumble with the drizzle, but it would be wonderful with vanilla ice cream.
Originally published June 20, 2021