Wednesday, June 6

Strawberries and Rhubarb; So Good, They're a National Holiday

You can’t eat rhubarb without strawberries. Sorry. That’s just the way it is. I don’t make the rules; somebody else does. In fact, June 9th has been designated National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day. Check your office calendar; you might actually have the day off.

Growing up on the East Coast, I remember going over my great aunt Pauline’s, where she grew rhubarb along the side of her house. I also remember eating it raw, and scrunching my face up in satisfaction at its impossibly tart flavor. I loved it as a kid, and I still love it as an adult (but not raw, thanks). Just writing about eating raw rhubarb makes my teeth ache (of course it might just be my new whitening toothpaste).

I also remember carrying home bundles of rhubarb that my mom would transform into mouth-watering desserts, of which my family’s favorite was strawberry-rhubarb pie. There was always an exciting anticipation watching my mom roll out the dough, stew the fruit, and make the perfect lattice topping with sparkly sugar crystals on top. Although I would haved treasured a piece, I knew that I didn't have the time this weekend to make one. So, I settled on this easy-to-make, delicious-to-eat strawberry rhubarb sponge pudding.

Though California reigns supreme with many types of produce, it doesn’t offer a lot of tasty rhubarb. In fact, I have never seen it at the farmers’ market. So, I bought some at the supermarket. Though it tasted good, it lacked the crispness that is characteristic of freshly cut rhubarb from home.

Here is Jill Dupleix’s recipe for Rhubarb Sponge Pudding that was featured in the May 2007 issue of Bon Appetit. The only change I made to the recipe was adding strawberries, so I added it to the name as well. It was simple to make and had just the right sweet-tart combination I was desiring. I definitely recommend serving it with softly whipped cream, which cuts the richness of the cakey topping and adds a light, creamy smoothness to the texture. I would also recommend making it in two smaller baking dishes if you want to post on it. That way one can remain intact, and you can eat the other as you go. Not that I would ever do such a thing.

I’m submitting this to Meeta, the birthday girl, who has chosen "Big Birthday Bang!" for her Monthy Mingle. Children and adults would like this dessert, and it could be served in one large dish or in individual dishes.

Since June is also the beginning of swimwear season, you could lighten this recipe, by substituting Splenda for the sugar, Smart Balance for the butter, and low-fat milk for the whole milk. Then, you won’t have to worry about how you look in your birthday suit.

Strawberry Rhubarb Sponge Pudding
Print recipe only here.

1 1/3 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1-inch lengths (about 5 cups)
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons water

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
6 1/2 tablespoons whole milk

Softly whipped cream

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 11x7x2-inch baking dish. Place rhubarb pieces and berries in baking dish in even layer. Scatter brown sugar over and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons water.

Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Fold in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, mixing just to blend after each addition. Spoon batter over rhubarb, smoothing top to cover.

Bake dessert until top is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Serve warm with softly whipped cream. Makes 8 servings.

Finally, if you really want to bake a pie, then check out Elise's beautiful rhubarb-berry pie with instructions for creating the perfect lattice-top pie crust.

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Patricia Scarpin said...

Susan, rhubarb is hard to find here and it costs a lot of money, too. I have never tried it but have seen so many delicious recipes with it that I'm willing to spend some cash. ;)

Your sponge is absolutely fabulous - you won my heart by adding strawberries.

Joanna said...

Hi ... I would NEVER have thought of pairing rhubarb with strawberries, but, now that you have come up with it, I can see they would be terrific together. Here, by this time of year, rhubarb is in great supply and pretty cheap (it's expensive at the beginning of the year, when you can buy the wonderful pink forced rhubarb that is grown indoors in the dark in huge sheds in Yorkshire). And as the strawberries are just coming into season, I'm going to give this a try.

Thanks for sharing

Alanna Kellogg said...

This is just beautiful! I'm afraid I'm not with you, however, I love rhubarb "straight up" and unadulterated, no strawberries required ... although they're always welcome!

Anh said...

I have reminding myself to make something with rhubarb... Yours look so good. A lot of people have been praising about strawberry and rhubarb... I'm dying to try out myself. Just that the strawberries are not that good at the moment. Perhaps I should be more patient!

Asha said...

Beautiful combo! You never I never tasted Rhubarb!I know! Am I stupid or what?!;D
I will get those this weekend and celebrate with Strawberries.Looks fabulous!

Pip said...

This pudding looks great! Can you believe that I've never tasted rhubarb? In Italy is more difficult to find but I'm really curious about it! What does it taste like?

Stella said...

They make the perfect match especially when they both are tangy!
Oh goody, your sponge pudding does look good, too bad I'm eating it with my eyes!

Elise said...

Hi Susan,
Rhubarb and Strawberries are such a classic pairing. I love them together! I like the idea of having them be the stars of a sponge pudding, the texture must be wonderful. Yum! (Thanks for the links.)

Mishmash ! said...

You almost sold this dessert....made me crave for some and thinking of making it soon :)


Chubbypanda said...

I remember thinking rhubarb was red celery when I was young. I loved celery. One day, when my mom was busy in another part of the produce area, I reached over and...

Haven't tried it since. Maybe I should give it another go.

Chris said...'ve hit it out of the pak (park) with this one! I love Rhubarb and Strawberries together. I actually made a Rhubarb and Strawberry apple sauce a while back and never blogged about it..need to go back and find those was tasty.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Ahhhh Susan, this is so perfect! I love rhubarb and strawberries but the sponge cake added is just over the top. Great twist from a pie. The individual servings are a terrific idea. But your progressively empty dish is the topper!

foodette said...

That sounds so gosh-darn good, I want to make it right now. If only I had some rhubarb in the house!

Toni said...

When I was growing up, we grew rhubarb in our back yard, and my mom used to make rhubarb and strawberries. Because she never considered herself a baker (that was reserved for her sister), she never turned it into a pie. We just had bowls of rhubarb and strawberries, and just the name of your post started me salivating! I just bought strawberries today - now I'll have to look for some rhubarb.

Scribbit said...

Rhubarb is so big here, it grows so easily and I love it.

I usually make my raspberry jam with half rhubarb to make the berries go farther and no one can tell.

That pie looks gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

LOVE that photo sequence!

Marcia H said...

the 1st time I tasted rhubard I was annoyed, my teeth clenched and I didn't really liked the taste. My husband made them in a wonderful way, and now my mouth waters when I think of rhubarb:
As I don't enjoy cooked/backed strawberries, my husband usually cooks the rhubard for 3 to 5 minutes in apple juice and I eat it with fresh strawberries and creme fraiche - it's delicious.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

It took me a while to develop a taste for rhubarb but O love it now - mixed with berries is just brilliant. This pudding really looks awesome and thank you for bringing it to the party!!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

When I was growing up, my family moved from Manhattan to suburban New Jersey. We had a giant weed in the back yard that my dad kept trying to mow down. Of course we learned that it was a rhubarb plant -- we'd never seen one in New York!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Mmmhhh, marvelous! Your pudding is very appetizing...

Lis said...

This looks heavenly, Susan! I love these kinds of puddings. =) I'm not a big fan of the strawberry/rhubarb pie, it's mostly the crust thing.. but in a pudding like this I could go ga-ga over. =)


Susan from Food Blogga said...

Patricia-It really is worth the extra money. Hope you try it!

Joanna-Using the season's freshest berries will really make a delicious difference.

Alanna-You're bold!;)

Anh-I would recommend using only the freshest strawberries for their sweetness.

Asha-Ooh, you're in for a treat!

Pip-It's very tart, esp. raw. (Tart like when you suck on a lemon.) This is why its best when cooked with a sweetener like sugar or honey. The flavor is really mellowed when cooked, which makes it slightly tangy and sweet. It pairs beautifully with many fruits, such as berries, cherries, and apples. It can be used in savory dishes as well though.

Valentina-I'd be happy to send you some. ;)

Elise-The cakey texture was lovely. You're so welcome!

Shn-Oh, good.

Chubbypanda-Give it another go. Cooking it really mellows the flavor. I promise.

Chris-A home run? Cool. ;)

Tanna-Aw, thanks. That's sweet.

Foodette-It's worth going to the store!

Toni-Hope you find some!

Michelle-I would love that jam.

Christine-I'm glad!

Marcia h-That sounds lovely.

Meeta-You're welcome!

Lydia-What a great story!


Susan from Food Blogga said...

Lis-How funny is that? We both posted at 4:30, so I didn't see your comment. If you're not crazy about crusts, then you'll love this!

Sig said...

Rhubarb is an aquired taste for me, I like it when it is perfectly paired with other ingredients... I've never had it with Strawberries, but I can imagine the taste... it will be awesome and you have done a great job of selling it too :)... Your posts always make me want to run out and buy the ingredients :)

Lucy said...

Colours are great together as well.

A holiday? I'm all for fruit and veg related days off...very amusing!

Anonymous said...

We have a monstrous rhubarb patch at our lake home with stalks that can grow as thick as your wrist. My MIL goes nuts each spring with it.

My mom made a delicious rhubarb/strawberry sauce when I was a kid that we would spoon over ice cream or sometimes just eat with a spoon. No pies...the sauce was IT. Rhubarb season always makes me think of her fondly, it was one of her favorite things.

wheresmymind said...

I'm with you on the Strawberry/Rhubarb combo...just can't have one without the other...nope!

Anonymous said...

My wife makes a fantastic strawberry and rhubarb pie every year. I'll think I'll give her a friendly reminder now...Your dish looks great.

Linda said...

i have yet to cook/bake with fresh rhubarb. thanks for the inspiration. this looks perfect for all those summer bbqs coming up!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the adjustments you suggest for swimsuit season, I am admittedly not a baker, but I heard a baker saying that substituting sweeteners for sugar doesn't tend to work out as well, at least texturewise. It's because of the physical/chemical transformation sugar undergoes when exposed to heat.

But since I've also seen plenty of sugar-free baked goods for sale, I could be way off here. Any of you bakers out there have any thoughts on this?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Sig-That makes me happy. :)

Lucy-I hear ya!

Kate-I'm glad it brought back fond memories for you. Now, where is that house located?;)

Jeff-I know!

JJ-Just ask nicely.;)

Linda-Oh, I hope you try it!

Terry-Though I'm not an avid baker, I have made several baked goods with Splenda (as has my mom who is a much better baker than I) and they've come out fine. I wouldn't suggest it for something like a souffle, but for a dish like this, it's usually fine. I've also used it in puddings and muffin/cake recipes.

bazu said...

Tomorrow's *strawberry-rhubarb day*, no kidding? That is so cool! Why can't we have more holidays devoted to produce??
Your photos all look mouth-watering. I'm so proud of myself, because this is the first year I actually bought and cooked fresh rhubarb (previously, it was always store-bought pies or things other people made.) For my tang-loving palate, rhubarb is perfection.

Sara said...

I love the going-going-gone pictures! Very cute.

Susan said...

What a compelling dessert, all golden and rouged. This is so in the British style. Quite lovely, festive yet comforting. It's really remarkable how transformed a vegetable can be. I rarely see rhubarb in our markets here. Pity.

Nora B. said...

Susan, that looks utterly delicious! It's calling out to me to make some. Luckily rhubarb is still in season here and strawberries are still around but with a hefty price tag. But I know that it will be worth it. Thanks for the recipe.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I've never actually cooked with rhubarb. What a lovely color, and the sponge is great - so much lighter looking than a crisp or a crumble.

Anonymous said...

I've never tried rhubarb but I've heard of the strawberry-rhubarb combo. I'll have to try it out sometime. :)

Rachael said...

I am must admit to being obsessed with strawberries. But, I've never had rubharb!

Pudding looks fantastic and I love that you ate the whole thing. I would have too : )

Rasa Malaysia said...

I have never had rhubard...have read so much about it this seasonal?

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous! Would you believe that I've never tried rhubarb? I've heard of the infamous rhubarb and strawberry combo, I really must try the two together one day :)

Anonymous said...

I have never met a strawberry rhubarb combo I didn't like. I must try that sponge cake!

Wendy said...

The Jill Dupliex recipe is a favourite of mine. And I'm not even a pudding fan! Was ready to debate the inclusion of strawberries but you write about the pairing so convincingly I'm going to give it a go. :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Bazu-Yeh! I'm so happy to hear it!

Sara-Thanks. It was fun and delicious!

Susan-The chef who created the recipe is Australian.

Nora B- It's worth it (or send me the bill). ;)

T.W.-It's a lovely, light texture.

Amy-I hope you do soon!

Rachael-It should be easy to find in New England.

Rasa Malyasia-It's usually out in the late spring/early summer season.

Ellie-Oh, you really do!

Kristen-Add this one to your list!

Wendy-Great! Glad to hear it!

Passionate Eater said...

I love your pairing of rhubarb and strawberries! I myself have never tried the combination, but because I heard it from the trustworthy Food Blogga source, I know it is a combination to be reckoned with. It sounds like they go together like peanut butter and jelly, or, in the words of Grease, "like wha-bab-a-loo-bop-a-bop-bam-boo!"

Anonymous said...

Forget the birthday suit! I'm going to make this the full-fat full sugar flavor...Yummy!

Anonymous said...

This looks so good...but I can only imagine how it tastes as I've never tasted rhubarb! I hope I get the opportunity soon...I've bookmarked a lot of recipes already, and now this lovely one :)

btw, your 3-pea salad was delicious! Mmmm...

Anonymous said...

These are just all looking too delicious! Love the association of these two fruit together!

debra said...

I am also going to try this recipe with blueberries when my berries come in around July 4th.

Anonymous said...

I just bought rhubarb for the first time this season and was going to make a pie. I think I'll try this pudding instead for a change. It must be good if you ate the whole thing!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Passionateeater-I haven't thought about that movie in ages!

Veronica-You go! ;)

Joey-Oh, thanks so much! I love the pea salad too.

Bea-They make a lovely pair.

Debra-Blueberries sound like a delicious and festive alternative.

Ann-It really was delicious!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan! Well this timing of this post is excellent, as the rhubarb is coming up like crazy in our neck of the woods - not that there is any question on how to use it!

Now if the strawberries would just hurry along, I'd be all set to make your fantastic dish!

Jeanne said...

Wowee wow! I am a newcomer to the world of rhubarb, having not really grown up with it. I am fascinated by its sweet yet tart taste and I LOVE the colour when yuo get really pink stems. I've seen a couple of recipes lately featuring a rhubarb & berry combination and I'm intrigued. This is DEFINITELY going on my summer "to make" list - thanks!

Anonymous said...

your recipe never indicates when to add the strawberries in!

Heather said...

I'm on a rhubarb kick after eating it so often in Australia! Now that I'm back in the US, I've been searching for recipes, and I'll be making this one next.