Rhubarb crumb bars or Old fashioned rhubarb bars, are sweet and tart with a light crumble topping. The inside is slightly custardy and all that goodness sits on a shortbread type base. They’re easy to make and freeze beautifully so you can make a whole batch, no problem!
RHUBARB CRUMB BARS
I grew up having these bars as an afternoon snack and when I got older, as a breakfast with my coffee 🙂 This recipe is an oldie, but it’s a goodie!
I love the versatility of rhubarb. It goes into so many desserts like my Rhubarb and Pear Crumble and my Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies. You can even make a Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade with this recipe from Bless This Mess! But I have to say, my Mom’s recipe using rhubarb is probably my most favorite.
It’s sweet and tart, buttery, and has a custardy type center. Plus, the base tastes similar to shortbread which is amazing if you’re into those flavors.
There are a lot of ways out there to use your rhubarb. And honestly, this sour vegetable (yes, believe it or not!) has a lot to offer. You can read my article about everything you need to know about growing rhubarb plants and dig into our rhubarb craze. It’s a great ingredient and this recipe can really be a perfect dessert to serve during the rhubarb season.
INGREDIENTS FOR THESE OLD FASHIONED RHUBARB BARS
- Rhubarb – You can use frozen (but thawed) rhubarb for this recipe, but of course, fresh is best. It doesn’t matter if the variety of rhubarb you use is pure ruby red or the red/green variety. Use what you have on hand.
- Basic baking ingredients: Flour, butter, baking powder, sugar, eggs, and milk. These ingredients are what most kitchens have on hand, ready to go.
Here’s how to make this dessert:
- Start out by making the base of the cake (all instructions and amounts are listed in the printable recipe card below for you) and pat it into the baking dish, reserving 1/2 cup of the base to crumble over the top.
- Then add the rhubarb on top, and then pour in the cake batter on top of the rhubarb.
- Bake and let cool.
A super easy cake to make! Again, be sure to check out the full recipe below.
Storing these rhubarb crumb bars is easy as pie. (See what I did there?)
This dessert can last in the fridge for at least a week. Just make sure to use an airtight container or cover really well with plastic wrap, so that the crumb cake doesn’t dry out or take on any fridge odors.
When freezing, make sure to put it in the freezer after it was baked because if you try to freeze it raw/unbaked, the custard/batter layer will not hold up through the thawing process.
If you wanted to make or freeze ahead, you can freeze the base layer in a baking pan. You can also freeze the rhubarb ahead of time, but the batter layer will have to be made fresh. After the bars are baked, they will last in the freezer wrapped tightly for at least 3 months.
HOW TO SERVE
You can serve these rhubarb crumb cake bars slightly warm, or cold, plain with no other garnish. Or, you can dollop a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream beside the bars for an even better dessert experience. Perfect for an afternoon snack or any occasion. I don’t know what else to say about this recipe…except that it’s super delicious and you should definitely try it!
- Use the freshest rhubarb you can find. Remember, both red or red/green rhubarb taste the same.
- Butter in this recipe is super delicious, but a softened margarine will work just as well.
- The texture of the shortbread base should be somewhat crumbly, but at the same time, should still hold together when pressed in your hand (photo above, under directions).
- Base Ingredients:
- 2c Flour, all purpose
- 1/2c Butter, room temperature
- 1 Egg, beaten
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- Topping Ingredients:
- 1c Sugar, white
- 1/2c Butter, melted
- 1/2c Flour, all purpose
- 2 Eggs, Large, beaten (or 3 small eggs)
- 4c Rhubarb, cubed
- 1/4c Milk, whole
Making the Base:
- Combine the flour, butter, egg, salt, and baking powder. The mixture should hold together when squished in your hand. Place 2/3 of the mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan, reserving the rest for the topping.
- Press the base mixture lightly, but firmly into the pan.
- In a bowl, mix the sugar, melted butter, flour, milk, and beaten eggs together. The consistency should resemble a thin pancake batter. If it seems too thick, then add more milk in small increments until you reach that desired viscosity. Set aside.
- Sprinkle the chopped rhubarb onto the top of the base ingredients in the baking pan. Slowly start adding the liquid batter on top of the rhubarb, as evenly as possible.
- Sprinkle the remaining base topping on top of the custard.
- Bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool.
The reason why the batter sometimes needs extra milk will depend on the size of the eggs that you use. Sometimes, I'll have to add just a few extra tablespoons to make it that pancake batter consistency.
It's important to let these crumb bars cool before eating as the rhubarb gets very hot during baking and could easily burn someone's mouth if eaten too quickly (even though you want to devour these bars immediately!)
Whole milk is optimal for this recipe because it gives it a richer flavor, (or you could even use a light table cream!) but if you only have a 2% on hand, feel free to use it. In fact, if you wanted to, you could even use plant-based milk as well.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 bar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 244Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 175mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 13gProtein: 4g
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.