My mum had grown so much rhubarb in her garden it was in excess of her requirements. She left some with my sister, who never bakes and is from the “overcook pasta, add cheese” school of cookery. My sister presented me with a recipe handed down to her by one of the oldies at her office. Hand written and on yellowing paper, it was for a rhubarb and orange flan. Pretty basic stuff, but way beyond the skills set of my sis, who I’m pretty sure I witnessed kneading some pastry for ten minutes once in order to lovingly present the family with the worlds chewiest pasties. After purchasing the missing ingredients for the flan, I set about making it in my sister’s ill equipped kitchen. Blunt knives, no round flan base or pie dishes and more crucially, no weighing scales. I toyed with the idea of guessing the weights, but felt it was too high risk that the curd filling would not set or be too hard. I also considered going and getting my own scales, but could not be arsed. In the end I announced that we would be having rhubarb and orange crumble instead and set about making something totally easy without the need for scales.
I chopped the rhubarb into small pieces and stewed it with a big handful of sugar and the juice and grated rind of an orange. When soft, I checked it and added more sugar to taste.
I got about half a packet of butter and roughly the same volume of sugar and rubbed the butter into twice its volume of flour, before adding the sugar. I used a large tumbler to roughly measure volume. I squashed it into a dough ball and pressed that into rough shaped biscuits and baked in a medium to hot oven until crispy and golden .
I never understand why I am so often presented with crumbles that are more soggy than crumbly and crunchy. What I usually do is make rough biscuits, as described above, then when cooked, crumble big chunks onto the fruit base adding smaller crumbs as well and warm quickly in the oven before serving with ice cream, cream, or custard. I saw Raymond Blanc on the TV adopting a similar technique for avoiding a soggy crumble a short while after I had devised my own genius method, so don’t knock it!