Some of my most treasured recipes were hand written many years ago by family or friends. Some are so faded and the paper so tattered that the writing is barely legible, and yet there is no way that I could bring myself to throwing them out.
One such recipe was scratched out onto a writing pad by a friend and neighbour in the early 1980s, when our boys (now grown men) were tiny babies. It's for a rhubarb crumble with a brown sugar and oat topping. I don't know the exact origins of the recipe, but I've embellished it over the decades and made it my very own. Every so often, I change it to suit my tastes and the availability of seasonal fruit.
In this adaptation, I've made a crumble topping with a few of the same ingredients that I would use in my Anzac Biscuits. I use less sugar and butter, and also used gluten free flour (an Aldi brand). You'll note that I have not labelled the recipe 'gluten free' per se, as Australian food standards differ to those of other countries. FSANZ (Food Standards Australia and New Zealand) prohibit any form of oats to be defined as gluten free. This is due to the fact that Australian oats are not free from contamination of wheat, rye or barley because crops are being grown in close proximity and the same equipment is used in harvesting. Interesting, no?
Now tell me dear readers and fellow cooks, do you have handwritten recipes that you treasure? Do please share your stories.
RHUBARB CRUMBLE WITH APPLES, BERRIES & MACADAMIAS
1 bunch of rhubarb stems (350g)
1 cooking apple
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vanilla infused caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla
zest of an orange
For the crumble topping:
1/2 cup plain (AP) flour or gluten free plain flour
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
65g unsalted butter
1/4 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, whole or chopped
Dollop cream, sour cream, yoghurt, mascarpone or ice cream
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Wash the rhubarb stems and cut them into 3-4cm pieces. Peel and core the apple and cut it into cubes which are slightly smaller than the rhubarb pieces.
Combine the water, sugar, vanilla and zest in a saucepan, and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the rhubarb and the apples, lower the heat and poach gently until the rhubarb is just soft. Do please take care not to let the rhubarb over cook, as you don't want mush for this dish. Allow the fruit to cool, then transfer the fruit to a lightly buttered ceramic baking dish. Arrange the blackberries over the top of the fruit and set aside.
Meanwhile, combine the flour, coconut, rolled oats, ground vanilla, ground cinnamon and brown sugar in a Pyrex bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the butter together with the golden syrup over a low heat. Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
Sprinkle the crumble topping over the fruit, followed by the macadamia pieces, then bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crumble topping is beautifully golden. Serves 4.
Note, if berries are expensive or out of season, use more rhubarb and apple. Or, you can just increase the quantity of rhubarb and have a plain rhubarb crumble. Similarly, you can omit the macadamia nuts if you don't have them, but they do add a delicious crunch and flavour! Double the quantity for more deliciousness.
If you enjoy rhubarb desserts, you might also like this vanilla poached rhubarb with amaretti and sabayon. An original Good Things recipe.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.