Rhubarb crumble with star anise and almond
Nothing says “Summer” like rhubarb pie – except maybe rhubarb crumble!
Although rhubarb root has been used by the Chinese for medicinal purposes since around 2700 BC, it wasn’t until the late 1700s that Europeans, and shortly thereafter Americans, started using the stalks in food. As rhubarb is quite tart, it’s popularity grew as the price of sugar dropped. If you ask most people, they’d probably say that it’s a fruit, because that’s how we use it. However, it’s actually a vegetable that is closely related to sorrel.
Apparently, making crumbles instead of pies for dessert became popular, at least out of necessity, as a result of food rations during WWII when there was a shortage of ingredients normally used in pastries. Nowadays, there is no shortage of flour or butter. Instead, we choose to leave out these ingredients for other reasons. I want to be careful about calling this recipe “gluten free”. While oatmeal itself contains no gluten, the companies that process and package oats usually work with wheat and flour as well. As a result, oatmeal can become cross-contaminated. People who truly suffer from celiac disease, should only consume certified gluten-free oatmeal.
So you’ve eaten rhubarb or other crumbles 100 times before – what makes this recipe so special? Well as I hinted at above, it contains no wheat flour. Instead, this recipe uses almond flour, sliced almond pieces and oats. But wait – there’s more! The secret ingredient in the this recipe is star anise! I was recently looking at what flavors and foods go with both rhubarb and almond, and it turns out that they are both mutually compatible with anise. I love a bit of licorice-like flavor in sweets and desserts, so I just had to try it out!
And wow, is it good! At first I was a bit sceptical, but then I remembered that biscotti (you know those dry, hard as rock Italian “cookies”) have almond and anise in them. And while I’m not a big fan of their texture and dryness of them, the flavor is great! So I ground up enough star anise to make two full teaspoons of powder, and added that to the crumble. The almond-anise-rhubarb combination is really something special!
In Sweden, it’s common to eat rhubarb pie or crumble with a kind of vanilla cream. What you see in the photo is a half-and-half mixture of whipping cream and vanilla cream, both oat-based. Whether you need to go out and buy some rhubarb, or you have some growing in your backyard, you should really try out this rhubarb crumble, with almond and star anise soon! In fact, I think I’ll have some more myself!
- 1¼ (ca 570 g) - rhubarb, chopped into ¾ in (2 cm) pieces
- ⅓ cup (.8 dl) - coconut sugar
- 1 Tbsp (30 ml) - potato flour/corn starch
- 6 oz (170 g) - vegan margarine
- 1 cup (2.4 dl) - almond flour
- 1 cup (2.4 dl) - rolled oats
- 2 oz (ca 50 g) - thinly sliced almonds
- ½ cup (1.2 dl) - brown sugar
- 2 tsps (10 ml) - star anise, ground with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
- Pre-heat oven to 400°F (200°C) and grease the bottom of a round pie form with a 10 inch (26 cm) diameter. (9 x 9 square or 8 x 10 rectangular )
- Add the remaining ingredients to a bowl and working quickly, so the butter doesn't melt, use your hands to mix the ingredients together, forming clumps. Spread on top of the rhubarb.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until the crumble topping is a golden brown. Let cool before serving.