Twice last week, I made rhubarb raspberry rye crumble. There is nothing like the scent of baking raspberries.
I brought it to a party on perhaps the only day, so far, that has really felt like summer, here. It was hot and breezeless; the sky was white. I wore a lapis blue linen dress and sandals for the occasion, and as I sipped cold wine, a whisper of sweat trickled down my spine.
The event was for the parents of the fourth graders at Cal’s school. I felt a great sense of intimacy as I looked around, realizing that I understood something about everyone there. I know many of Cal’s classmates better than I know their parents, from years of driving on field trips, Cal’s stories, and the times I’ve had many of them over, maybe served them oatmeal pancakes on a Saturday morning after a sleepover. After the heat dissipated, the light faded, the crumble made its way onto dessert plates and the conversation ebbed, I was left with a sense of quiet contentment.
The weeks in May and June are full of “lasts,” and each and every end-of-the-school-year event makes my insides clench. I’ve realized I only have five more summers before Abbott graduates. He is all sinew and muscle and deep voice; soon, he’ll be taller than all of us. Yet there is still some time unaccounted for; I need to remember that. I’ve experienced loss since he left the womb; when he was days old, I’d think, regretfully, about how close he was to being a full week old.
Nelly is ready to have the boys home full-time - she’s bored with how much time I spend at my computer these days. And I’m looking forward to summer, too: to burning my feet on our sun-warmed deck, sitting outside after dark, hours of reading, picnics, iced tea, salted slices of tomatoes, and sundresses.
Rhubarb Raspberry Rye Crumble
slightly adapted from Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day by Tara O'Brady
Tara O'Brady is a Canadian ship captain’s daughter of Indian descent. She is one of the best storytellers and photographers out there, and one of the loveliest people I know. She recently published a gorgeous book, Seven Spoons, full of her stories, recipes and photographs. Tara’s recipes, many with a global bent, are exactly the kinds of things I want to eat, such as A Burger Treated Like a Steak (bathed in miso butter!), Feel Better Curried Soup with Crispy Chicken, and Savory Steel-Cut Oats with Cheese and Spinach. I typically don’t like rhubarb combined with any other fruit, but Tara knows her way around the kitchen, so I decided to try her rhubarb-raspberry-rye crumble. I am so glad I trusted her; this is one of the best fruit desserts I've ever made.
½ cup (115 g) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup (110 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup (65 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (50 g) rye flour
¼ cup (20 g) flaked (sliced) almonds
¼ teaspoon ground cardamon
2 pounds (910 g) rhubarb, trimmed and cut into ½ - inch pieces
1 ¼ pounds (565 g) raspberries, fresh or frozen
Juice from ½ lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (28 g) tapioca flour
¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 vanilla bean
vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 375F with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease a 2 quart baking dish with butter.
To make the topping, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and salt on medium-high speed until fluffy, around three minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the speed to low. Sprinkle in the oats, flours, almonds, and cardamon; let the machine run until the dry ingredients are incorporated and the mixture starts to gather into a rough streusel, about three minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Place the bowl with the streusel in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
To make the filling, combine the rhubarb, raspberries, lemon juice, sugar, tapioca flour, and salt in a large bowl. Split the vanilla bean down its length, scrape its seeds into the bowl, and then add the pod as well. Fold everything until the tapioca disappears. Scrape the fruit mixture and any accumulated juices into the prepared baking dish. Using your hands, distribute the streusel over the filling.
Place the dish on the prepared baking sheet and bake until the juices are bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 50 minutes.
Cool on a rack for 30 minutes before serving. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Yield: 8 to 10 portions