With a hint of citrus these rhubarb bars just scream spring. I think everybody is glad I found something to bake other than sourdough bread.
FOR THE SHORTBREAD:
- 1 ½ cups/190 grams all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup/65 grams granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¾ cup/170 grams cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1-inch pieces
FOR THE FILLING:
- 10 ounces rhubarb, sliced (2 1/2 cups), plus 1 slender red stalk for the top
- 1 ¼ cups/250 grams granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange or lemon zest
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- Confectioners’ sugar, for serving
- Heat oven to 325 degrees and line a 9-by-9-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving two edges long so they overhang the pan by at least 1 inch. (This is for lifting the bars out later.)
- In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and process until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough into the lined pan in an even layer. Don’t clean out the food processor, you’re going to need it.
- Bake crust until golden at the edges, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and raise oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- While the crust is baking, make the filling. In a medium saucepan, combine the rhubarb slices and 1 cup sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium-low heat until rhubarb releases its juices. Raise heat and bring to a simmer. Keep simmering, stirring once in a while, until the rhubarb breaks down completely, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the rhubarb and juices to the food processor, and let it sit with the cover off until it cools down a bit, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, lay the very pink rhubarb stalk on its narrower side. From the edge of the stalk, peel a long strip from the stalk. Continue to peel strips from the stalk, flipping it around the other side to keep it even. (This makes it easier to peel, but don’t worry too much about getting uniform strips.) Line up peeled strips and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Some may curl up, and that’s fine. You’ll have about 1 cup strips.
- To the food processor, add the eggs, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, flour, zest and salt, and pulse until mixture is puréed. Pour into baked shortbread base, and carefully scatter the rhubarb strips on top. It should look a little like confetti. Bake until the filling is set and puffy, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely in the pan.
- Once cool, use a butter knife to cut at the edges of the crust to release them from the pan, then use the parchment “handles” to lift up and transfer the pastry to a cutting board. Cut into 1 3/4-inch squares. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Ready to put together … you can see I’ve added a bit of orange zest to the shortbread crust, loved the way it was aromatic and added a bit of flavour as well.
This recipe came from New York Times, and they recommend a 9″ square pan, which I don’t have …. the only adjustments I made (for the sizing) were to use just 3 eggs, and I withheld a bit of the shortbread crust and sprinkled it over the top before baking as a bit of a crumb, and it worked perfectly in my 8″ pan. Some reviewers suggested less sugar, and I’d agree with that – depending on your rhubarb. I also didn’t need to put the rhubarb into the mixer to blend as it cooked down beautifully and I preferred the texture.