Impulse Baking: Rhubarb Tart with Brown Butter Streusel

Last week I was at the grocery store shopping for some ingredients I needed to make a cake, when something happened that made me immediately abandon my prior baking plans. I saw some gorgeous, bright red rhubarb. Usually the rhubarb I can get in this area -- even when I buy it from the farmer's market -- doesn't have great color. But each stalk of rhubarb at Whole Foods that day was vibrantly red, end to end. I decided I needed to make a rhubarb dessert. Since I didn't have a recipe in mind and I didn't now how much I needed, I just grabbed what seemed like a reasonable amount.

When I got home, I started looking for a recipe. I found one on epicurious for a Rhubarb Tart with Brown Butter Streusel. A couple of years ago I made a Rhubarb-Streusel Tart that was disappointing -- but the four fork rating on epicurious for this recipe made me optimistic that it would turn out better.

You make the crust in the food processor, from flour, sugar, salt, cold butter, an egg yolk, and cream. You are supposed to press the dough into a tart pan, but the dough was easy to handle and I actually had no problem rolling it out between two sheets of parchment. After getting the dough into the pan, I docked it and chilled the crust for a few hours. Then I blind-baked the crust to a nice golden brown; even though I didn't weigh down the crust during baking, it didn't shrink and kept its shape well.

The fruit filling for the crust is sliced rhubarb (I happened to purchase about 1.75 pounds, which yielded a little more than the five cups needed for the recipe) tossed with sugar, flour, and lemon zest. You let the mixture sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is moistened. You spoon the rhubarb into the warm crust and then crumble over a streusel made from browned butter, sliced almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. I noticed that a lot of reviewers complained that there was way too much streusel, but I was able to use all of mine. It was heaped up higher in the center of the tart, but the amount of streusel was manageable.
You bake the tart until the streusel is brown and the fruit is bubbling. When I cut into the cooled tart, I was pleased with the pretty pink color of the fruit filling, but a little concerned about the fruit juices that were seeping out of the tart. Soggy crusts are a pet peeve of mine, and I was worried that the fruit might have generated too much liquid during baking. I didn't need to worry -- the crust was still dry and crisp.

The filling was pleasantly tart-sweet, with a distinct brightness from the lemon zest. The crisp streusel was delicious and offered a wonderful texture contrast to the rhubarb, although I did regret using all of it. As good as it was, the large amount of streusel overpowered the rhubarb. Don't get me wrong, the tart was fantastic. But the rhubarb in the grocery store captured my imagination the moment I set eyes on it, and I was really hoping to showcase the fruit. I think it plays second fiddle to the streusel in this tart. Still, the rhubarb and streusel make beautiful music together.

Recipe: "Rhubarb Tart with Brown Butter Streusel" from

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