Rhubarb Crunch

Minton China (England) - "Stanwood"
Minton China (England) - "Stanwood"

 Somehow this recipe came to me on angel's wings by 1970 & it has allowed me to use up tons of rhubarb throughout the decades.  For me it beats making a pie, & the sugar syrup bakes into a great, thickened, rhubarb center.                        This Rhubarb Crunch has always  immediately given me standing as a fabulous baker for all pot lucks as it's got a carmel-like chew on the bottom & a crunch on top.  I don't know what I'd have ever done without it.  I've seen the recipe in spiral-bound cookbooks from at least as far back as the 1940s.



1 cup dried Quick oatmeal OR 2/3rds Quick &                                                         1/3 Old Fashioned

1 cup brown sugar, packed     

1 cup all-purpose or white-wheat flour

2 teaspoons (tsp) cinnamon

1/2 cup / 1 stick butter or margarine, melted

Sugar Syrup

1 cup white sugar

2 Tablespoons (Tbls) corn starch

1 cup water

1 teaspoon (tsp) vanilla extract


4-6 cups fresh rhubarb in about 1/2" pieces

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Baking Dish; Temp; Time

1, 8" or 9" x 2" square, round, or deep dish pan according to the amount of rhubarb you have.  See the note below for a 9x13" or an 11x17" pan.  

350 F 45-or-so minutes; bubbly around edges, browning on top.  

- - - - - 


1) With well-washed hands, MIX the 4 dry  crumble ingredients, breaking any lumps of brown sugar to pea size.  ADD melted but/marg & stir in till all dries are coated.  I like the old wire pastry cutter because I have one (scout out thrift shops).  Use wooden spoons or forks, or your hands - whatever.

SPREAD 1/2 crumble mix into a lightly buttered/greased 8-9" baking pan-dish. Press down a bit. 

Sugar Syrup

In a saucepan, MIX the sugar & cornstarch real well.  Use a wire whisk if you have one.  ADD 1 cup water, stir.  It will be milky white.  Set on medium heat.  BRING TO BOIL - maybe 7-or-so minutes, whisking now & then.  Let boil a minute or 2, stirring constantly, till thickens, & is more of a clear color.  REMOVE from heat.  ADD the vanilla right before spreading it on the rhubarb.  (NOTE:  If your sugar is lumpy, press it through a strainer with your fingers.)


Sometimes I have the rhubarb all washed & cut from the day or up to a week before (in a tightly sealed plastic bag in the refrig). If not, after the sauce is going, wash, clean, & cut the rhubarb. (See "rhubarb" in the BASICS under RECIPES.) Watch the sauce ..... it will probably be done before you get the rhubarb done.

PUT the cut rhubarb on the crumble in the pan. The amount does NOT need to be exact! If you have 3 cups, fine, 5-6 cups - fine! Just have it so after you put the crumble on top, it won't be higher than the pan. The Sugar Syrup will be enough for up to 7 c. rhubarb.  

ADD the vanilla to the Sugar Syrup.  Using a large spoon, SPREAD it all over the top of the rhubarb, coating all.  Move your spoon sort of quickly as you let the syrup run off so you get all of the rhubarb coated, & along the edges, etc.  Use a spatula to clean out the pan.  

The above photo is an 11 1/2" x 17 1/2" pan, using 3 amounts of Crumble and 2 amounts of Syrup, over 15 cups of rhubarb.  For a traditional, standard 9"x13"x2" pan I use 1 1/2 or 2 times the crumble, 7-9/10 c. rhubarb, & 1-to- 1 1/2 Syrup.

RUN your hand through the other half of the crumble to break it up a bit.  COVER (by shaking your hand) the syrup-covered rhubarb with this other half of the crumble.  Do NOT pat down.  Just use your fingertips, to spread some, if necessary.  There will be lumpy pieces.  Let it be.  Do NOT crush the lumps & make it all smooth.  Lumps = crunch!  Yummy!!

crumble, rhubarb, sugar syrup, crumble -- so simple!
crumble, rhubarb, sugar syrup, crumble -- so simple!

BAKE in a preheated 350 F. oven, 45-60 minutes -- middle rack if nothing else is baking - - otherwise, bottom or top if a convection oven.  TURN in 25 minutes.  CHECK at 45.  Should be bubbly in spots around edges & browning on top.  If not, let it in another 10-15 or so minutes.  Depending on the thickness & if I'm doing the huge pan, it might be 1 1/4 hours - - depends.  Just check.  If you put SO MUCH in your pan that the bubbling will drip, put a cookie sheet or something on the rack below.  

REMOVECOOL on a wire rack.  You can eat it right away, but pull it apart to cool off a bit so as not to burn your mouth. Great with ice cream. 

I never refrigerate nor freeze this as it gets soggy.  Whatever amount I make, it never lasts more than 2-4 days.   Just keep on the counter.  You can cover (with another pan or pot cover or cookie sheet, etc.),  but not air tight.  And you can always reheat if you like it warm.  

If you have lots of rhubarb, then make a large pan full.  It's a great "portion" give-away to neighbors who love rhubarb, & would never get such a treat otherwise!   

Strawberry-Rhubarb Dessert
Sour Cream Rhubarb Squares

Spode China (England) - "Chelsea Gardens"
Spode China (England) - "Chelsea Gardens"

This is another "I don't know what I would've ever done through the past 40+ years without this recipe" . . . made so often, & by the time you turn around, it's gone - - - right out of the oven, breakfast, dessert, or anytime!  A very FAST "Dump Cake" process.  THE EASIEST EVER!


4-9 c. 1/2" size pieces rhubarb (put in an              ungreased 9"x13" cake pan)

1/4 -to- 1/2 c. white sugar (sprinkle over)

1, 3 oz. box straw/rasp/cherry Jello (Choose your flavor & sprinkle over - - there is no actual fruit in this recipe, BUT if you have a lot & want to use it up, put it on top at this point & see if you like it.)

1, 2-layer dry yellow cake mix (sprinkle over, do NOT pat down, or make real smooth.  Just use fingertips to sort of even out the thickness - some lumps are o.k.)

1 cup room temp water (Drizzle over - won't        cover all - much is still dry)

1 stick butter/margarine - melted (Drizzle over  in dry areas - some will still be dry)

Bake in a preheated 350 F. oven, 35 minutes or till a beautiful red bubbly up the sides & a golden brown on the dry parts of the yellow cake mix.  Maybe even up to 40-45 to get the "golden" you want.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  (I just did one with 9 c. rhubarb to use it up, 1/3 heaping c. sugar, all the rest the same, & baked 55 min.)   I do not refrigerate this.  The top tends to get soggy.  It can be covered, but not air tight.

A "saucy" mixture forms under the topping.  But it will thicken as it cools, or if there's some the next day.  

And if you use the traditional (i.e., original) recipe with strawberry jello, it will fool people in that there are no actual strawberries in it!

Also, optional, you could put coconut and/or chopped nuts on top of the cake mix before the liquids. 

An interesting note - - - Did you know that in England in the 1980s (& probably still today), Jello was not sold dry in a granular state, but concentrated in a "block" the size of the 3 oz. box, like Jello jigglers?  You'd add hot water to dissolve & then cold to make your jello.  Different! 😏  Also, you'd never be able to make this recipe 😒!  What a loss!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *   

Photo is not the full recipe.
Photo is not the full recipe.


MIX TOPPING till crumbly & set aside:

1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1 tablespoon (Tbls.) butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon

MIX (w/mixer 1st choice - goes faster):

1 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. shortening (margarine or from a 3# can)
1 egg

MIX/WHISK/SIFT thoroughly in a separate bowl:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt


1 cup sour cream into the creamed mixture in    thirds alternately with the flour mixture just till well combined.  Clean beaters.

STIR IN (by hand)

1 1/2 to 2 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2" pieces


9" X 13" greased & floured cake pan.  


BAKE  in a preheated 350 oven 45-to-50 minutes.  Serve warm or room temp.  Don't refrigerate as it will get soggy.  

NOTE:  Remember, if it's too much to eat within 3-4 days, I'm sure some neighbors or friends would love a piece!

Source:  I believe this was from a Better Homes & Gardens magazine in the 1970s.  The photo is 2/3rds of the recipe clipping.  

Mixing steps
Mixing steps
Add & Stir - then put into the pan.
Add & Stir - then put into the pan.
Sprinkle topping over all the batter.
Sprinkle topping over all the batter.
A moist cake with a crunchy, nutty top - yummy!
A moist cake with a crunchy, nutty top - yummy!

Rhubarb Dream Bars

Lenox China (USA) - "Golden Gate"
Lenox China (USA) - "Golden Gate"

This really is a "dream" dessert because it just seems to melt in your mouth, between the buttery cookie crust & the yummy rhubarb custard.  And if you're not careful, only half the pan will be left for the rest of the family by the time they get home!!!  (1970's? OWH newspaper)


Cookie Crust

1 cup (c.) flour
5 Tablespoons (Tbls.) powdered sugar
1/2 cup (c.) / 1 stick butter or margarine

Cut but/marg in flour/sugar till crumbs.  Press into an ungreased 8" sq.  Do 1 1/2 for a 9x13x2".   Bake 350, 15 minutes.  Remove.


2 eggs, beaten
1 cup (c.) sugar
1/4 cup (c.) flour
3/4 teaspoon (t.) salt
2 cups (c.) finely (small) chopped rhubarb

First, mix/whisk dries together, then mix/whisk into beaten eggs.  Stir in rhubarb - I use a wooden stirrer.  Pour - spread carefully over hot crust.  Use a spatula to clean out the bowl.  Bake 350, 30-35 minutes.  Depending on your oven it will brown slightly or all.  It's done when the custard no longer jiggles, so watch after 25 minutes.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  I do not refrigerate this.  It doesn't last that long!  It can be covered, but not air tight.

For a 9x13x2 I do 1 1/2 or 2 of above filling (depends on the amount of rhubarb I have), & only 1 t. salt.  Baking is a bit longer, so I might cover it  with a piece of aluminum foil if it browns too much.  The 45-50-year-old, 11 1/2"x 17 1/2"  pan below holds 3xs the recipe.

ready for the oven
ready for the oven

NOTE:  I've seen this recipe with various names, so it's been around town a few times!  And professional editors and publishers have told me that recipes can not be copyrighted, but it's necessary to give credit if you know the source.  So don't worry about changing a name of a recipe to pass it on.  Enjoy & share!                                        

 The Garden - Rhubarb Plants

This photo below, was after pulling out the first batch of the tallest & thickest stalks -- 1/2" thick, or more, & cutting off the leaves which are poisonous.  You can pull out up to 2 of every 3 stalks so it keeps growing, & never cut off - always pull at the bottom.  When pulling, I also "clean" the plants by pulling out & away all the dead, yellowish, soft stalks, usually on the ground.  If you can press through a stalk, it is no good -- throw it out.  If you ever see any SEED stalks growing, they must be pulled & thrown as soon as possible.  DO NOT USE THOSE STALKS!  They come straight up with a bulbous structure on top (very different from a leaf).  If I'm using the rhubarb within 2-4 days, I also cut the bottom off when I'm outside.  I store it unwashed in closed bread bags or plastic carry bags in the refrigerator.  If I have time to wash, clean, & cut it, I store it in zip-closure bags & in the refrig.  Either way, I've kept it up to at least a week that way before using.

The First Rhubarb Picking

Usually rhubarb (in Nebraska) is ready around mid-May/ Memorial Day, & through Labor Day or into October.  The first picking always seems to have the most red on it.  The plants just keep growing if they're picked & watered, AND if a steady month or more isn't 80-90-100 degree days!  If the stalks become soft/porous, then they're no good. 

Rhubarb freezes well in zip-closure bags, but when thawed, it's only about half the volume with lots of water juice which you drain off.  Therefore, it's more of a saucy consistency & doesn't have the same structure as when fresh, although the end taste is the same, depending on what you're making with it.  Not every recipe can be made from frozen rhubarb vs. fresh.  You'll figure it out 😉.  

Below:  New growth on the left; a stalk "going to seed" on the right.