Whole Wheat Rhubarb Pie Bars

It’s that time of year again. Trees, newly clothed in pink blossoms, shed their skeletal selves. Grass emerges, sparkling new and green, from beneath relentless streams of rain. Rhubarb finds its way into my kitchen and has me spellbound with its pearly, pink power.
I want to make a pie, a purely rhubarb pie, but realize I don’t have enough fruit. So I settle for the next best thing: pie bars.
These bars are made with whole wheat flour and flavored with cinnamon and brown sugar. Browned butter adds nutty warm flavor to the flaky crust. Rhubarb is mixed with lemon and vanilla scented sugar and topped with a buttery, oat flecked crumble. It’s pie but it’s also crumble! The best of both worlds.
The rhubarb turns jammy and soft and retains its lovely tartness. The crumble is sweet, made to be eaten with ice cream and shared with friends. Go ahead. Throw a party. Celebrate spring.
Because finally, finally, it’s that time of year of again.

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Pie Bars

Crust and crumble adapted from here

Yields: one 9×13″ pan

Why I love this recipe: whole wheat, browned butter and cinnamon make for warm, hearty pie bars and a just sweet enough rhubarb filling, complemented by vanilla and lemon scented sugar, completes these simple, seasonal bars. 

For the crust: 

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

For the rhubarb filling: 

  • 1 1/2 lbs. rhubarb, trimmed, washed and chopped small
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • two tablespoons lemon juice
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • pinch of cinnamon

For the crumble: 

  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • pinch of cinnamon
  1. Place rack in center of oven, then pre-heat oven to 350 F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper.
  2. Make the crust: melt the butter in a small saucepan over high heat until it foams, then the foam subsides and the milk solids turn a light brown, about 5-7 minutes. It will smell nutty and wonderful.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining crust ingredients together. Add the browned butter, then stir gently to form a ball.
  4. Press the crust into one even layer in the pan, then bake for about 20 minutes, until light golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  5. While the dough is baking, prepare the crumble topping: combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, whisk to combine. Add the butter and mix everything together using your fingers, until large crumbs form.
  6. Make the filling: to a large bowl, add the sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. Use your fingers to rub the zest and vanilla into the sugar. Let sit for the flavors to meld.
  7. To the bowl of sugar, add the cinnamon, tapioca, and salt. Add the rhubarb and mix to combine. Pour over the partially-cooled crust.
  8. Sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the fruit.
  9. Bake until topping is golden brown about 35-40 minutes. Cool completely before slicing and serving, or serve warm with ice cream.

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Pie Bars

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Pie Bars

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Pie Bars

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Pie Bars

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