Friday, May 25, 2012

Mini Lemon Scented Strawberry Rhubarb Buckles

I remember the first time my mum made rhubarb crisp when I was kid. I stood in the kitchen watching her sprinkle butter and sugar over top of the rhubarb, thinking, "Uh, I'm pretty sure she's putting celery in my dessert. Gross." Oh how wrong that child was.

My mum is one of those weirdos (albeit a beautiful one) who doesn't like strawberries (or raspberries or coconut or pineapple...), so I never had the heavenly combination of rhubarb and strawberry until much later in life. And well, the two were pretty much meant to be together.

lemon, strawberries, rhubarb

macerating strawberries and rhubarb

I had been itching to bake something with rhubarb, so when I finally found some good strawberries at the farmer's market (they've been a little rusty this season), I knew something delicious was about to happen. I wanted a self-contained pastry, but I didn't want a muffin or a tart. So these mini buckles were born. They're probably not buckles in the strictest sense of the term, what with the shortbread like dough that makes up the bottom and sides. In any case, they might be some of the most delicious baked fruit desserts I've made. Truth.

Strawberry Rhubarb Buckle

Mini Lemon Scented Strawberry Rhubarb Buckles
makes 5-6 standard ramekin-size buckles
adapted from Alexandra Cooks

For Dough
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, chopped into 1-inch cubes
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. lemon zest

For Filling
6-7 oz. rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces on the bias
6-7 oz. strawberries, trimmed and halved
1/2 cup sugar

For Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, chopped into 1-inch cubes

First, make the dough. In a large bowl, whisk flour and sugar. Using a pastry cutter, work butter into the flour and sugar until mixture is crumbly with pea-sized lumps. In a small bowl, whisk yolks and cream. With a wooden spoon, stir into flour-sugar-butter mixture until combined. Gently knead the mixture in the bowl with floured hands until a dough forms. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour.

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 5-6 ramekins with parchment paper so that it sticks up over the top of the ramekin. Set aside.

Prepare the filling by stirring together rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and zest with a wooden spoon until fruit is evenly coated with sugar. Set aside to macerate. Next, make the topping. Whisk together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Work the butter in with your fingers until the texture is crumbly.

Unwrap the dough and cut it into 5-6 pieces, depending on the size of your ramekins. And here's the annoying part. This is a rather moist dough and can be difficult to roll out properly and easily, especially if you live in a warm/humid climate (as I do). Either you can roll each piece of dough out on a heavily floured, cold counter or between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. OR you can press the dough flat with your hands and mold into the ramekin. The latter option seemed to work better for me. Whichever way you choose, place the dough in the ramekin so that it comes about halfway up the sides.

Divide the filling evenly among the ramekins and top with as much crumb topping as you can fit. Place ramekins on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking for another 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Let cool completely on wire rack before lifting from the ramekin by the parchment paper. Remove parchment and serve at room temperature.

Strawberry Rhubarb Buckle

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