Florida has oranges, California grapes, India the magnificent mango… and what do we have here in Calgary? Rhubarb, not even a fruit, but an odd vegetable stolen by school children so the stems can be jammed into an also stolen jar of sugar. Without sugar, the sour stalk is too shocking.
Nevertheless, we love our rhubarb, though most people just buy it. I still have an old fashioned rhubarb patch in my garden, and once a year I harvest a few stalks. The distinctive flavour is tart yet delicious, as long as it’s tempered with sugar, and less sugar is needed when strawberries help out.
|Rhubarb is the stalk of the huge leafed plant to left.|
These squares are based on another Canadian favourite, date squares, but bad dogs had trampled my rhubarb plant, and so two stalks needed harvesting. What an excuse that was to substitute strawberry and rhubarb for the date puree..
I would have preferred this recipe with three stalks, but didn’t want to deplete my plant.
This recipe makes an 8 by 8 inch pan of squares, and takes about two hours, from start to gobbling warm squares.
2 stalks rhubarb (3 would be better), chopped
1 cup strawberries
water to cover
½ to 1 cup jaggery powder (raw Indian sugar)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
¾ cup jaggery powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 ½ cups unrefined oat flakes
½ cup hemp hearts (optional)
2/3 cup soft butter
Start by making the filling. Combine rhubarb, strawberries and the first half cup of jaggery. You can buy jaggery in Indian grocery aisles, or use brown sugar if you must. Cover with water and set on medium high heat. This takes a while to cook down to a paste, so check on sweetness as it’s cooking. Add as much of the jaggery as you require. Within half an hour, it should be thick enough. Stir to make sure no liquid rests in the pan. Set aside.
|Don't expect it to be pretty when it's cooked!|
In a mixer, use the paddle to slowly combine the flour, baking powder, salt, jaggery, cinnamon, oats, hemp and butter. I like the hemp hearts because they’re super healthy, but you can omit them and use more oats in their place.
When the mixture is crumbly, spread a little more than half the mix over the baking pan. Press down with your fingers to create a firm base.
|This recipe has been adapted from Barss' recipe for date squares!|
Spread all the rhubarb mix over the base; then use your fingers again to sprinkle the remaining flour mix over the rhubarb. Gently press down to even out, and bake at 350 F for about forty minutes or till golden.
These can be served warm with ice-cream, or chilled. Buttery, tart, sweet… a very delicious cold climate treat!
|Why not try these for Heritage Day? What could be more Canadian, eh?|