This week, I've been craving summer fruit. Or more specifically, baked summer fruit, topped with nutty, buttery crumble and liberally dolloped with Greek yoghurt. I discovered Nigel Slater's recipe for baked peaches through my friend Elizabeth's blog The Backyard Lemon Tree earlier this year and was reminded of it recently when the same recipe was published on Smitten Kitchen at the height of northern hemisphere summer. With stone fruit out of my reach for a good few months yet, I needed a way to satisfy my craving for a juicy, crunchy, throw-together fruit dessert... at the tail end of Sydney winter. Apples and pears I love but I wanted something a bit more punchy in both colour and taste... and found it in rhubarb.
I really wasn't prepared for how good this turned out to be. I'm not saying it's better than the Nigel Slater peaches - that would be blasphemy - but put it this way, in summer, when I've got stone fruit coming out my ears (so to speak) I'll likely be craving this: rhubarb, tossed in sugar and orange zest, baked til it slumps into a sweet, tart ruby red tangle, and covered in a blanket of crisp, caramelised oats. As with its summer counterpart I like it best with a spoonful of plain yoghurt, not out of any sense of restraint, but because the smooth sharpness of the yoghurt beautifully complements the crunch of the crumble and the sweet juiciness of the fruit. And, as an added bonus, it justifies eating any leftovers (in the unlikely event there are any) for breakfast.
Recipe adapted from Orangette
If you can restrain yourself, don't serve this straight from the oven. Let it cool just a little first. This gives the crumble topping time to solidify and become well, crumbly.
1 ¼ cups flour
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
6-7 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 lb rhubarb, cut into ¾-inch pieces
¾ cup sugar
Zest of half an orange
½ tsp ground cinnamon
In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup flour, brown sugar, oats, and butter. Squish together with your hands til the mixture consists of small clumps and all the flour is incorporated. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In another bowl, combine the rhubarb with the sugar, the remaining ¼ cup flour, orange zest, and cinnamon. Transfer the rhubarb mixture to an ovenproof baking dish, and distribute the oat topping evenly over the rhubarb. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.
Serve warm, with good-quality vanilla ice cream or Greek yoghurt.