Passover apple rhubarb crisp

April 12, 2009 at 11:07 am (Cook's Illustrated, Crisps and cobblers, Dessert, My brain, Spring recipes, unrated)

This recipe is based on a generic crisp recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. I adapted it to make it kosher for passover, and to use the beautiful spring rhubarb.

For the topping:

  • 6 tablespoons matzoh cake meal
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 3/4 cup pecans or whole almonds

For the fruit:

  • 2 1/2 pounds apples, equal parts granny smith and mckintosh, cut into one-inch chunks (about 5 cups)
  • 2-3 stalks rhubarb (about 2 cups sliced)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger (optional)


  1. For the Topping: Place the nuts in a food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade.Pulse the nuts to a medium chop.  Pour the mixture into a small bowl.  Next, place the matzoh meal, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in the food processor. Add chilled butter and pulse until mixture moves from dry sand-like appearance with large lumps of butter to a coarse cornmeal texture, about three 4-second bursts. Add to the nuts, and distribute evenly.  The mixture should resemble crumbly sand. Do not overmix or the mixture will take on a smooth, cookie-dough-like texture. Refrigerate mixture while preparing fruit, at least 15 minutes.
  2. For the fruit: Toss cut fruit, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in medium bowl.
  3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Scrape fruit mixture with rubber spatula into 8-inch square (2 quart) baking pan or 9-inch round deep dish pie plate. Distribute chilled topping evenly over fruit; bake for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees; bake until fruit is bubbling and topping is deep golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Serve warm with ice cream.

Serves 6-8.

To make a larger crisp that serves 10-16, double all the ingredients, use a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, and bake for 55 minutes at 375 degrees, without increasing the oven temperature. Instead of apples, you can use stone fruit cut into half-inch wedges. If using plums, Cook’s Illustrated recommends adding one tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca to the fruit mixture, to keep it from being too juicy.

Cook’s Illustrated recommends peeling the fruit (including the apples), but I like the peels, so I leave them in.

Update May 24th, 2009:

I tried the rhubarb crisp recipe from Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.  It calls for 1.5 pounds of rhubarb (about 4 long stalks) and 3/4 sugar mixed in with the fruit.  I thought the balance of sour to sweet was pretty good.  There’s also 1/4 cup brown sugar in the crumb topping.  The recipe has you simmer the sugar and rhubarb and zest of one orange in a saucepan for 5 minutes.  I wonder if it’s really necessary.  I hate getting a pot dirty if it’s not essential.  Maybe if you don’t pre-soften the rhubarb then the crisp topping starts to burn before the rhubarb is cooked all the way?  Perhaps another strategy would be to put the rhubarb and sugar in the pan and cook it in the oven while you make the crisp topping.  I wonder if that would work?

In the final crisp I couldn’t taste the orange zest at all.  In fact, I made it once without the orange zest and it tasted exactly the same.  Orange zest is healthy, so add it if you have it, but if you don’t have an orange around don’t worry about it.

Berley’s crisp topping recipe is a bit odd–it always seems kind of dry and sandy to me.  I much prefer the Cook’s Illustrated recipe which includes nuts as well, and has more body.


  1. Vegetarian Passover 2009 « From the kitchen of a captious vegetarian said,

    […] Dessert: apple rhubarb crisp […]

  2. What to do with a lot of lemon or lime zest? | The captious vegetarian said,

    […] apple-cranberry-crisp/ or apple rhubarb crisp […]

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