I love strawberry-rhubarb anything. As a Midwesterner, I know that’s a bit of a cliché. My New York City friends used to tease me about my folksy, Midwestern origins when, in an unguarded moment, I’d blurt out something like “Oh, don’t you wish we could eat some strawberry-rhubarb cobbler right now?!” “Oh yeah, gee whiz, that does sound mighty good,” they’d respond in their best Lake Wobegone accent. But I can’t apologize. People who live in USDA growing zone 7, don’t own a snow shovel, and take runs in Central Park in April wearing shorts, how can these people truly appreciate summer? As special as Christmas or Thanksgiving, summer for us in the Great Lakes IS A HOLIDAY—all 8 weeks of it; and as with all holidays, our summer has certain traditional, celebratory foods.
Strawberry-rhubarb cobbler is just the first of many in a parade of seasonal classics like corn on the cob, BLT’s, and brats on the grill. When that sweet berry and the tart stem reach ripe perfection at the precisely the same time, you know summer has arrived. Because Wisconsin has had a slow, wet and cold start to the season, you can still find plenty of strawberry and rhubarb at the farmers market. Even if you don’t have time to bake a cobbler this weekend, buy the rhubarb and strawberries before time runs out. It takes very little time to freeze these fruits, and then you can enjoy them even in the dead of winter.
Wholesome, simple, sweet-tooth satisfying, America perfected rustic baked fruit desserts like cobbler. It remains one of our few positive contributions to the global banquet.
Feel free to substitute other berries or fruits as they come into season; blueberry, peach and apple are classics. Likewise the strawberry-rhubarb can be baked with a crisp topping with equally delicious results. Check out Apple Crisp for the crisp topping recipe.
- STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB FILLING
- 3 pints strawberries (about 2 lbs.)
- 1 lbs. rhubarb thinly chopped (about 3 cups)
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 T corn starch
- BISCUIT DOUGH COBBLER TOPPING
- 1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 3 T sugar
- 1 ½ t baking powder
- ½ t salt
- 6 T cold butter cut into small chunks
- ⅔ cup half & half or cream
- ½ t vanilla extract
- BISCUIT DOUGH GLAZE
- 1 T sugar
- 2 T half & half
- Preheat oven to 375◦ F.
- Butter an 8 or 9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish (2 quart capacity).
- Mix the strawberry-rhubarb filling together and place in the bottom of the greased baking dish.
- Prepare the biscuit dough by first mixing the dry ingredients—flour, 3 T sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Next, cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or using the food processor until it has a mealy texture.
- Combine the half & half with the vanilla and add all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir gently until just combined. DO NOT OVER STIR OR IT WILL BECOME TOUGH.
- Liberally flour a counter surface and pat dough out to ¼ inch thick with your hands.
- Use a knife or cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes like circles, triangles or stars. To make a lattice, cut into long strips and weave. The dough is sticky and easily breaks. Don’t worry over it; just cobble it together.
- Place the dough on top of the fruit filling. Do not completely cover the fruit or steam will not escape.
- Brush dough with half & half and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for about 45 minutes and allow to cool 15 minutes before serving with a side of whip cream or vanilla ice cream.
Cooking with Kids: My kids love to cut up produce. They take this responsibility seriously and they should. I’ve given them a knife!! In this recipe, I put them to work taking the stems off the strawberries. If your little ones are between 4 – 11 years old, give them un-pointy steak knives and start teaching them very basic knife skills–especially tucking in the fingers that hold the fruit on the left hand (also known as the bear or tiger claw). Check out this video from the Rhyming Chef to see an entertaining demonstration. The steak knives can also cut the more tender stalks of rhubarb. If you have lots of rhubarb to cut, have the kids do it in the food processor–loud noise, buttons to push, my kids never say no to helping with the food processor. Un-fussy desserts like cobbler don’t require absolute precision so let the kids measure and teach them about fractions and measuring tools while you work. They also love to stir the batter but don’t let them stir too much or the cobbler might turn out a bit tough.
Tips and Food Safety: If you have a sunny patch of land available, plant some rhubarb. This perennial comes back year after year and adds beauty to the landscape with ruby red stems and elephant-ear sized leaves in deep green. Once you do have a patch of rhubarb, DON’T EAT THE LEAVES. They contain oxalic acid and other toxins. The stem, on the other hand, may be enjoyed anytime of the year not just spring—stems never contain toxins.