Rhubarb in the Rye

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Right now, in the midst of transition, stress and uncertainty, I’m trying to find joy in the simple things. The scent of fresh gardenias from the yard, filling the kitchen with their summery perfume. The sight of the first firefly of the evening. The sound of our dog plopping down onto her bed at night. A compliment from a stranger.

I’ve been wanting to make these bars since I first saw Molly Wizenberg’s post on them and I’ve been wanting to do something with rhubarb for months but haven’t been able to find any good rhubarb at the farmers’ market. Finally, I succumbed and bought some at Whole Foods because they had some gorgeous New York rhubarb at a decent price. The rye flour lends a rich nuttiness to the crust and the streusel and is intensified by the toasted walnuts which also provide a nice texture. Black pepper makes its presence known, adding some extra oomph without being too obtrusive. It’s a good counterpart to the tart rhubarb jam that’s layered in between. The streusel recipe is definitely a keeper and would be awesome overtop a single-crust pie (I’m particularly yearning to use it in a peach pie) but the possibilities are endless.

If you’re pressed for time, you could easily use store-bought jam but I think it’s simple and worth it to make your own. Like Molly, I imagine an apricot jam would be lovely in this recipe but my mind wanders…

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Rhubarb and Rye Streusel Bars adapted from The Bojon Gourmet and Molly Wizenberg

      For the Crust:

  • 3/4 cup rye flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted, rubbed walnuts, chopped
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed

 

Rhubarb Jam

  • 1 lb rhubarb, washed with the ends cut off and sliced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (split lengthwise and scraped)
  • 1/4 cup water

 

For the Streusel:

  • reserved cup of crust mixture
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned, rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup toasted, rubbed walnuts, chopped
  • 1 TBS chilled butter cut into pieces

 

To make the crust:

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Then add the walnuts and the butter and pulse until the mixture starts climbing up the sides and has the texture of damp sand. If it’s a little dry, just massage the mixture with your hands.

Line an 8×8″ square pan with parchment or foil and leave a 1″ overhang on both sides (you don’t have to do this but it will make transferring and cutting the bars a little easier). Dump the crust mixture into the pan, reserving  1/2 cup for the streusel. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan, making sure it’s as smooth and flat as possible. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or so or until golden brown and firm.

 

To make the jam:

Place the rhubarb in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, vanilla bean seeds and pod and water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-medium low and continue simmering for another 5 minutes or so, until the mixture is thick and the rhubarb is mostly broken down, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to burn! Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Remove and either rinse off and save the vanilla bean pod or discard it.

 

To make the streusel:

In a medium bowl, combine the reserved 1/2 cup of crust mixture with the oats, walnuts and the 1 TBS of butter. Massage with your fingers until everything is incorporated and starts clumping together.

 

Assembly:

Pour the rhubarb jam over the crust and spread evenly. Use your fingers to form little clumps of the  streusel and sprinkle it overtop. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the streusel has turned golden brown. *(I’d set the timer for 20 minutes to start, just to keep an eye on everything and make sure you don’t over-bake). Let cool for about 20-30 minutes, slice and enjoy!

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3 Comments

Filed under Brownies and Bars

3 responses to “Rhubarb in the Rye

  1. I plan on making these today. Hayley is a friend of my daughter who lives in N Carolina, worked in New York at the same time as Louisa and introduced us to some amazing restaurants. Looking forward to going back to New York in a few weeks.

    • Oh that’s awesome Susan, please let me know how it goes! How exciting that you’ll be in NYC in a few weeks- I’m envious! Have a great time eating the city (it’s one of my favorite things to do there) ; )

  2. We are introducing our friends to some of your recommendations, mostly Buvette and Commerce. I cant wait. The Bars are in the oven as I write by the way. My Father in Law’s rhubarb has come in very handy. I am also going to make either the rhubarb and cream cheese hand pies that you referred to in a previous blog or a recipe I did last year which was a rhubarb and rosewater syrup. This is delightful either over ice cream or at the bottom of a glass of bubbly!

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