I was jonesing, early, for spring, and managed to score almost a pound of rhubarb. It was way too early for it to be local, but I didn't care. My wife wanted me to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie, but I didn't have quite enough rhubarb, nor did I have quite enough time. So I was tickled to be able to make, from a new pie book, my very first smulpaj. Or at least, it was the first time I called it that.
"Very similar to a classic crumble, this Swedish dessert is simply a shallow layer of fruit topped with a delicious oaty crumble mix," writes Brit Caroline Bretherton in her new book, "Pies: Sweet and Savory." It contains a lot of good recipes and advice, including step-by-step photos for techniques such as making this topping with your hands.
This was just what I needed: A fast, easy and rhubarby dessert that also was good, what little that was left, for breakfast the next morning.
-- Bob Batz Jr.
10 ounces rhubarb, trimmed weight, chopped into 3/4-inch chunks
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
For crumble topping
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
5 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
For the filling, put the chopped rhubarb, granulated sugar, and cornstarch in a large bowl and toss together, making sure that the fruit is well covered. Transfer the rhubarb into the 8-inch ovenproof dish, packing the fruit down well.
For the crumble topping, mix the flour and light brown sugar together in a separate bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips, making sure that there are a few pea-sized lumps of butter left. Stir in the oats and cinnamon, and mix together well.
Pile the crumble topping onto the rhubarb and spread it out, taking care not to pack it down too firmly. Place the ovenproof dish on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, until the fruit is soft and the crumble is golden brown on top.
Set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving hot or warm with thick cream. This is best eaten the day it is made, or stored overnight in the refrigerator.
-- "Pies: Sweet and Savory" by Caroline Bretherton (DK, Feb. 2013, $25)