Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
I’m not sure what it says about the state of my marriage that for Ben and my first-year wedding anniversary I made a mini tiered layer cake, for our second I made a one-bowl skillet cake, and for our third, I made the ultimate in all lazy desserts: a Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. Clearly, I’m slipping.
In my defense, Ben prefers desserts that are of the homey, less fussy variety than the fancy Sprinkles Bakeshop Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake (with fluffy cheesecake frosting!) that I made for our one-year wedding anniversary. Our wedding cake was strawberry, so I thought it would be fun to recreate it, and I’m glad I did—that recipe is the best strawberry cake I’ve ever had, and I’m glad we ate it together, fresh newly weds that we were.
For our two-year anniversary, I thought about making the strawberry layer cake again, but it occurred to me that, in our growth of comfort with one another as husband and wife, wouldn’t it make sense to have a more comfortable dessert? I kept the strawberries for tradition but lost the fuss, and this one-bowl Roasted Strawberry Almond Skillet Cake came into being. It’s now one of my favorite desserts for entertaining, because it’s so easy to make and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
As we approached our three-year anniversary, I deliberated what strawberry dessert I should make to commemorate the milestone. Strawberry cheesecake, strawberry mousse, and this outrageous strawberry pie all crossed my mind, but honestly, the dessert that feels the most appropriate is one of the most simple: Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.
On our one-year wedding anniversary, I shared a few silly marital lessons learned, and for our two-year, I did something similar, though I took a more heartfelt approach. Now for our three-year, I’m not sure I’m much wiser, though my decision to make Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp to celebrate it tells me something about this third year together.
Although I didn’t immediately recognize it until I sat down to write this post, our third year of marriage has been packed with transition. Ben graduated law school. We spent a month in France. I quit my job to start blogging full time. We moved to Milwaukee and bought a house (the house that Ben grew up in…from his parents). Ben went from student to practicing attorney. Now, instead of balancing time in the library and trying to cram my excess bakeware underneath our bed, we’re seeding our lawn and trying to be intentional about staying away from our phones in the free evenings we finally have together.
To be completely candid, I thought we’d have a lot more of that golden evening time than we do. Between long work hours, the dishes, and the little unexpected tasks that arrive with obnoxious regularity (car maintenance; paying the credit card; fixing the leaky shower), nights disappear quickly around here, as I am sure they do in your home too.
I could spend a few hours on an elaborate anniversary dessert, which I am sure Ben would appreciate in context, but I’d prefer to spend that time exactly where I’m so happy my third year of marriage has landed me: watching the final season of The West Wing beside my husband, on a couch in our new home. To celebrate, we’ll go out to dinner (Ben’s surprise pick—naturally, I’m hoping for a French bistro), come home, and heat up two giant bowls of this Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. We’ll add too much vanilla ice cream and turn on Netflix. Then, I’ll go back for seconds on the crisp, which I’ll say I regret but really don’t, because trust me: you will never ever regret having seconds of this Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.
Last summer, I baked a strawberry rhubarb crisp from Food and Wine, and although I loved the hit of cinnamon in the topping, I found it to be quite sweet. For today’s recipe, I meant just to tweak Food and Wine’s here and there—more naturally sweet strawberries to offset the tart rhubarb; honey instead of granulated sugar; Greek yogurt to replace some of the butter in the topping—but before I knew what had happened, I’d dropped lemon in favor of orange (because I love orange with strawberry and cinnamon), added a heap of vanilla extract to the filling (because it’s delightful), and snuck some shredded coconut into the topping (because its subtle crunch makes any crisp irresistible). At this point, I’m not sure it resembles the Food and Wine version particularly closely, but I am sure that it is very very good.
This Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp is lightly tart, juicy with fruit, and the topping is extra thick and tastes like a giant oatmeal cookie. I highly recommend the crisp smothered in vanilla ice cream for dessert, served with yogurt for breakfast, or cold right out of the refrigerator for whenever no one is watching.
To my husband: Thank you for showing me what love is every day by your example, and for loving me equally, whether I serve us a fancy cake, a Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, or a sleeve of Oreo cookies for dessert. I’m so glad you’re the one I’ll be eating it beside on the couch.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
A strawberry rhubarb crisp with a healthy oatmeal topping, bright orange zest, honey, and warm cinnamon. Wholesome and delicious!
Yield: 1 9x9-inch crisp (serves 6)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
For the Filling
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 4 or 5 stalks)
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 orange, zested and juiced
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Topping
- 3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 2/3 cup white whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)
- 1/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I use non-fat Greek)
- 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small, thin pieces
- Vanilla ice cream or yogurt, for serving
- Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the strawberries and rhubarb into a 9×9-inch or other similarly sized baking dish, then sprinkle the flour over the top. Add the honey, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Stir gently to combine and evenly coat the strawberries and rhubarb.
- In a large bowl, stir together the oats, white whole wheat flour, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the Greek yogurt and stir until the ingredients are somewhat moistened, then add the butter. Working quickly with your fingers, rub in the butter, until it is in small pieces about the size of your thumbnail (some pieces will be larger than others). Break the topping mixture over the fruit, placing it so that the fruit is lightly and evenly covered (some fruit may show through).
- Bake the crisp for 50 to 55 minutes, until the filling is bubbly at the edges and the top is light golden brown. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream or yogurt as desired.
Leftover crisp can be covered and refrigerated for 4 days or frozen for 1 month.
And just to make this an official anniversary post: gratuitous wedding picture (more here).