Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Southern Table: Rhubarb Blackberry Crisp

Pies are big in the south whether it be the classic double or single crusted pie, cobbler, or fruit crisp.  A fruit crisp is a like a pie, but much easier.  When time is an issue this is my "go to" dessert.  No pie dough to make, instead a quick mixture of butter, flour, sugar and spices is combined and sprinkled over the fruit.  I also add oats and nuts which are optional but I never leave them out.  I think the oats and nuts make the crisp topping by giving more depth of flavor and the all important crunch. Usually it bakes during dinner, so after dinner a delicious, warm fruit crisp awaits.  Break out the essential vanilla ice cream and enjoy.

Although I consider crisps a southern dessert, they are made though out the US.  The crisp is believed to be an offspring of the English crumble.  The ingredients are essentially the same but in different ratios.  Crumble seems to have a thinner layer of crispy topping whereas crisps seem to be chunkier.  Growing up, we usually had apple crisps in the winter and blackberry or peach cobblers in the summer.  I liked making cakes when I was younger and it wasn't until I had kids that I started making crisps with seasonal fruit.

Two fruits that I love combining in a cobbler or crisp is rhubarb and blueberries.  The recommended combination with rhubarb is strawberries or raspberries, which is good but my favorite combination is with blueberries. The contrast of the sweet and tart seems to have perfect flavor balance.
What is rhubarb?  Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that originated in China, eventually being grown in Britain and then the US.  Rhubarb was something I had only heard of until I moved to Pennsylvania. It likes a cooler climate to grow in and  shows up in the local markets in the Spring until early summer.  It is quite tart and requires a lot of sugar compared to other fruits.  I like tart and tangy, and rhubarb does not disappoint.

Rhubarb-Blueberry Crisp
approximately 8 servings

Crisp topping:

3/4 cup (75 g) of all purpose unbleached flour
3/4 cup (150 g) of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup or 1 stick (115 g) of unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (40 g) of old fashioned oats
1/2 cup (60 g) chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine flour, sugar, salt, butter and cinnamon with a fork or you fingers until combined.  Add  the nuts and oats and combine.  Set aside.

Fruit filling:

2 cups (244 g)  rhubarb, chopped in 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups(222 g) fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup (96 g) white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of flour

Vanilla ice cream or your flavor of choice, optional.

Place the rhubarb and sugar in the bottom of 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish.  A souffle dish or a glass baking dish works well.  2 to 3 inch depth is preferable so as to allow optimal surface area for topping but not too shallow so the fruit dries out.  Allow the rhubarb to sit coated with the sugar for up to a half and hour.

Meanwhile, in a bowl place flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon together and mix.  Add butter and cut in with a fork or you fingers.  When well blended add oats and nuts.

Add the blueberries and the flour to the rhubarb and mix.  Sprinkle the topping over the fruit.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes in the center of the oven.  When the topping is browned and the fruit is bubbling, it is done.

In my opinion, vanilla ice cream is the only topping that is the perfect accompaniment to fruit pies, crisps and cobblers.  Feel free to let your creativity run wild on what to top your pie with, but in my dish, vanilla rules.

Print recipe
Topping before baking
After baking and golden brown, I almost want to say
the topping is the best part, almost!

A lovely ending to a summer day!


  1. Ohh delicious! I've tried rhubarb with raspberry, but not with blueberry... not yet anyway!

  2. This looks not only so delicious but so pretty! That scoop of ice cream tops it off to perfection!

  3. Oh goodness. I think I need to get some rhubarb. Scratch that. I know I need to get some rhubarb and blueberries of course!

  4. I totally agree that fruit crisps are a perfect go to dessert! This one looks awesome!

  5. MOM!!! Way to mention this being my favorite dessert of all time, as well as this being my favorite thing to cook throughout my whole childhood!!

  6. I definitely need ways to use up our out of control rhubarb, this is just too tempting in a glass - cute presentation. I think I'll try replacing the flour with blanched almond flour and see what happens.. excited I am.

  7. oh wow, this looks incredible!!!

  8. I've made this twice within the last week, my family loves it, I didn't think it would be as big of a hit as it is, plus it is super easy to make!

    1. I am glad you enjoyed this. It a favorite way to have rhubarb for me. I love the topping on any kind of fruit or fruit mixture so what ever is in season works. This is a go to desert for me because in a pinch frozen fruit works too.

  9. you do realize the title of your post is "blackberry" not "blueberry"?

    1. That is funny. It is not supposed to be but it is! I try so hard to get everything right (seriously if you only knew, I know it is hard to believe after screwing up the post title). I am usually my only editor and things just slip past sometimes. I am more worried about a recipe having a mistake because I do not want to be responsible for someone's kitchen disaster. In my defense, they are the same color fruit but blackberries, in my opinion, make a better cobbler. OK so there is no real defense for this one - it is just a mistake.

      Thank you for pointing this out, it has been a year and someone finally told me!! Honestly, Thank You.


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