My friend Stephanie makes the best strawberry rhubarb pie. Stephanie is a pie girl, a true baker. She has her flaky pie dough technique down pat and gladly bakes pies for all occasions. You might walk into your friend’s kitchen to find her grinning eagerly as a pie bubbles away in the oven. Maybe you are lucky enough to have a master pie maker in your life, too.
Late last spring, Stephanie brought a strawberry rhubarb pie to my friend’s wedding reception potluck. I hardly had room for dessert, but that didn’t stop me from forking bite after bite of bright pink filling and shatteringly flaky pie into my mouth in between sips of wine from a red Solo cup. I was tempted to steal another slice for myself, but the pie was gone before I had the chance.
I tell you about Stephanie and her pie to tell you that I am not Stephanie and I do not bake pies. I can’t pull off ladylike dresses like she can, I don’t have a law degree like she does, and I do not have her patience for chilling pie dough. I’m a crisp girl. Crisps are easy. Crisps are for people like me, people who scramble to meet deadlines, who wouldn’t dream of getting out of bed for an early morning workout and avoid ironing clothes at all costs. We want our sweets and we want them now, so we make crisps.
Fortunately there is plenty of room for pie girls and crisp girls in this world. The more pies and crisps the better, I’d say, especially when strawberry and rhubarb are in season. Tart rhubarb balances sweet, jammy strawberry flavor for an irresistible final product. This simple crisp recipe requires some chopping, some hand mixing and foolproof baking. I hope you’ll make it quick, before rhubarb season is over.
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced into small bite-sized pieces
- 1 pound rhubarb (about 4 stalks), cut into ¼ by ½-inch pieces (slice larger stalks in half lengthwise before slicing them into ¼-inch wide pieces)
- ⅓ to ½ cup honey*
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch or 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup old-fashioned oats
- ¾ cup white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour/flour of choice)
- ⅓ cup lightly packed brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons plain yogurt (Greek or regular)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a 9 by 9-inch baking dish, mix together the strawberries, rhubarb, honey, arrowroot or corn starch and vanilla extract.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the oats, flour, brown sugar and salt. Mix in the Greek yogurt and melted butter. Stir until all of the flour is incorporated and the mixture is moistened throughout.
- Dollop spoonfuls of the oat mixture over the strawberry-rhubarb filling and use your fingers to break up the mixture until it is evenly distributed (no need to pack it down). Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the top is turning lightly golden. Let the crisp rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream, I insist.
- *The sweetness level of this crisp will depend on your fruit. Since rhubarb gets sweeter during the baking process, you can't really adjust for your desired sweetness before baking. My first crisp was just right with ⅓ cup honey and my second crisp was more tart. If you know you want your crisp to be on the sweet side, go with ½ cup honey. If your baked crisp is sour, keep in mind that serving with ice cream will temper the tartness. Add a drizzle of honey to the finished product if necessary. It will probably taste sweeter the next day.
- To make this crisp gluten-free, use 1 cup certified gluten-free oats and ½ cup almond meal instead of the oat and flour mixture specified above.
- Wait, what's arrowroot starch? Arrowroot starch is a great thickener to use in place of corn starch, which is often genetically modified. It’s gluten free, too. Look for it in the baking section of well-stocked grocery stores or buy it online.