Rhubarb Buckle, Revisited

rhubarb buckle

Ok, I think I’ve got this. An old recipe for blueberry buckle printed in the “Letters” section of the July 2004 issue of Gourmet magazine led me to just the crust I had longed for after making my first buckle last week. This dough, made with egg yolks and a little cream, yields the perfect bottom crust — not too cakey, not too crisp, a slightly sweet, perfectly sturdy layer that really allows the rhubarb to shine.

Anyway, I hate to bore you with the same dish two Fridays in a row, but rhubarb season is fleeting and so getting to the bottom (ha ha ha) of this buckle business was of utmost importance. Martha said it best: “This dessert belongs in everyone’s outdoor entertaining file.”

But if you blink and miss rhubarb season altogether, don’t despair. I suspect blueberries and peaches and every other wonderful stone fruit and berry will make dream-worthy buckles all summer long.

rhubarb buckle

rhubarb buckle

rhubarb & sugar

rhubarb buckle

Rhubarb Buckle
Adapted from Martha Stewart and Rosebank Farms Café via Gourmet Magazine, July 2004
Yield = 16 squares

A few notes: I thought the buckle I made last week could have used a little more streusel, so I doubled up this week and topped the buckle with a more generous layer of streusel. I did have a little bit leftover (about a heaping 1/2 cup), which I threw in the freezer. And, I did have some leftover dough as well — I used about 3/4 of the dough recipe for this buckle. I plan on making mini homemade pop tarts with the remaining dough? Thoughts? I’m sure you all have wonderful ideas as well, and if you care to share, I would love to hear. I’m too often guilty of letting dough scraps go to waste.

Also, if you prefer more of a cake-bottomed buckle, view this post.

13 ounces rhubarb, trimmed and cut 1/2 inch thick on the bias
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick cold, unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream (I used whole milk and 1/2 and 1/2…all I had)

Crumb Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1. Make the crust: Whisk together flour and sugar in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-sized butter lumps. Beat together yolks and cream with a fork and stir into flour mixture until combined. Gently knead mixture in bowl with floured hands just until a dough forms. Flatten dough into a 6-inch disk and chill, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center position. Line a 9-inch square cake pan with parchment paper.

3. Stir together rhubarb, 1/2 cup sugar and lemon zest; set aside to macerate. Note: I did this step right before I started rolling out the dough. When I dumped the rhubarb into the pan, it hadn’t soaked up all of the sugar — in other words, the sugar was still very much visible, but it didn’t seem to make a difference that it hadn’t macerated for very long. I dumped rhubarb and all of the remaining sugar straight into the pan.

4. Crumb topping: Stir together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add the butter and mix up with your fingers until clumps form. Set aside.

5. Unwrap dough. OK, because the dough recipe yields enough for a 9×13-inch pan, cut off about a quarter of the dough and set it aside. Roll out the bigger portion of the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper (or wax paper) into a 10×10-inch square, or as close to this shape as possible. Peel off top layer of parchment and invert dough into prepared baking pan. Trim up the dough where it creeps a little bit up the sides of the pan; patch the corner holes (if any exist) with trimmed dough.

6. Top this crust layer with rhubarb mixture, and sprinkle with as much crumb topping as you would like — as I noted above, I was left with about a heaping half cup of streusel topping. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for about 35 minutes more or until golden on top and cooked through. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack, then lift cake from pan using parchment. Remove parchment. Before serving, cut buckle into 2-inch squares.

rhubarb buckle


  1. says

    This looks so good! I have such fond memories of my grandma making blueberry buckle – the rhubarb version sounds super yummy too – I will definitely need to give it a try this spring!

  2. says

    Ali, I made this last night with a dear friend and we both agreed it was DELICIOUS! We threw in some strawberries to increase the filling. The crust was perfect. Thanks for another great recipe… I predict I’ll return to this one throughout the summer with whatever I can get my hands on!

    • says

      Darcy, this makes me so happy! Strawberries sound like a perfect addition. I actually have some more rhubarb on hand as well as some strawberries and blueberries, but what I’m really just dying to make is your plum crumble! I look at those pictures and start drooling.

  3. says

    Ali! I made this last night – it is AMAZING. Zach and I love it. I didn’t have a 9×9 pan so I just used my 1/2 sheet jelly roll pan thingy which is 9×13 and a few extra rhubarb stalks. I didn’t think I’d like the edge pieces, but they are my favorite…the chewy, sticky, globs land there and are just delicious with the crisper crust. Now I’m just trying to stay away from the kitchen so I don’t eat the entire sheet. Delish, thank you thank you!

    • says

      Talley, this makes me so happy! I know, I love those caramelized globs on the edges. I am having the same issue with the kitchen… my mama was in town and left me with too many temptations. Oiy!

  4. says

    Alex, would the swap be 1:1 for the fruit? I just looked at my store for rhubarb and found none. Could I use 13 oz. but use blueberries, or do I need more or less if I’m not using rhubarb? I was looking at your picture of the recipe in Gourmet Magazine and the filling part cuts off on the bottom, so I couldn’t see for certain. I searched their site and only found a recipe from 1991 for Blueberr/Nectarine Buckle. Just wondering if I do everything the same except swap blueberries for the rhubarb? Thanks! Karin

    • says

      Karin — I can’t say for sure, but I think 13 oz of blueberries is about right. I just put 1 cup of blueberries on my scale and it weighed 5 oz, and I just looked up a bunch of recipes for blueberry cobblers/crisps/crumbles/etc, which are making me think you’ll need about 2.5 cups of blueberries or about 12.5 oz, so 13 oz seems right on. I’m thinking this will make a nice filling for a blueberry buckle: 2.5 cups blueberries, 2 teaspoons flour, zest of one lemon and 4 tablespoons of sugar. And I think this will be about the right amount of blueberry filling for a 9×9-inch pan — I just poured 2.5 cups of blueberries into my 9×9-inch pan and they fit nicely in just about 1 even layer, which is how the rhubarb fit as well — in other words, the rhubarb isn’t totally spilling all over the place the way it would in a crisp or cobbler.

      I am dying to make a blueberry buckle. Let me know how yours turns out if you end up making it. I will email you the full photo of the buckle from Gourmet. I was dying to make this recipe, too, but then I found a picture of it online and thought it looked kind of weird — the filling looks really thick and custardy, which might be delicious, but not exactly what I’m looking for, you know? In this link, if you scroll down, you’ll find a photo of that buckle and you’ll see what I mean: http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/advertising-supplement/Content?oid=1103728

      Good luck with it!

  5. says

    I can’t get enough rhubarb at this time of year – SO eager to try this! Love the ratio of crust-filling-streusel and wish I had some RIGHT NOW with my morning coffee!

    A use for leftover dough from my mother the pie queen: roll it out as thin as you can without breaking (shape doesn’t matter), sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, roll up and slice into 1/4-inch slices. Place slices cut side up on a baking pan (I have a old restaurant “sizzle pan” I use) and bake at 400 until lightly browned. My brothers and I always looked forward to what my Mom called “cinnamon snails” whenever she baked a pie.

    Happy Spring and thanks for the inspiration!

    • says

      Susan — thank you for this tip! I still have a portion of leftover dough and it’s getting to the point where I really need to use it up. I will be making this tonight and will report back. I am so looking forward to having some cinnamon snails!

  6. Beth Gallagher says

    Thanks for this recipe! Looks delicious. I’ll be making it for an anniversary party tomorrow. :) However, I’ll be mixing in some wild blueberries for a Blubarb Crumble instead.

    We ALWAYS use extra pie dough to roll up with cinnamon/sugar too, but my great grandmother always called the little rolls Lamb’s Tails. Either cinnamon snails or lambs tails, they’re GREAT!

    • says

      Beth — Blubarb! I love it. That sounds fantastic. And Lamb’s Tails is also a fantastic name. I still haven’t gotten around to rolling out that dough, but I’m planning on watching Sherlock tonight, and I’m thinking I might just have to motivate 15 minutes before 9 to have something sweet to munch on during the viewing. Lambs tails it will be!

  7. says

    So my first visit to this site came via Talley’s recent post where she mentioned the Carbonara. I came over here for the recipe and made it that very afternoon for lunch and it was AWESOME the texture, as everyone’s pointing out, is so pleasing! Next day: Picked some cherries and made the buckle. And that was yesterday! And I’m already through the buckle!

    awesome awesome awesome recipes. thank you.

  8. Katrina says

    Do you think I could do this ahead of time just up to BEFORE baking it and freeze it for a later date?

  9. Monica says

    This was delightful. Made it tonight after having found rhubarb at my local grocer. My 11 yr old son loved it. Thanks so much for posting! This one is a keeper. Also made the cinnamon snails with the extra dough as another reviewer had posted as a suggestion.. My youngest son enjoyed those, as he’s not a fan of rhubarb.

  10. Arlene says

    Just made this really yummy stuff! Made it with apples and sprayed a large deep dish pie plate with spray – then used all the dough, and all the crumble topping. It is so freakin delicious! My apples were not juicy enough, but the taste of the crust itself just might mean I will use this one for all my pies! Thanks for this recipe – love it….

    • says

      Arlene — I can’t believe I haven’t thought to make an apple buckle yet this fall?! Must do something about this. I am SO happy it turned out well for you. Thanks for writing in and thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Mama Poule says

    I had been eyeing this recipe for a little while now, but when I last got rhubarb in my organic farm basket I had just had some dental work which pretty much made it impossible to eat anything which was not pureed. So I made rhubarb compote which was just too good. So last week when another bunch of rhubarb showed up, I dug this recipe out. Honestly, it is one of the best things I have ever made. If I were still single it would have been the type of thing I just ate in a single day all on my own :) the only thing I changed was that instead of 2 yolks and some cream, I just threw in a whole egg (had no milk or cream on hand and strapping the baby into the baby carrier just for a little cream seemed silly and inefficient.)
    Maybe you are just way more efficient than me or just more used to it given that you have three of them but I am still amazed at the amount of cooking you can do with such small kids.
    Anyway, this was an awesome dessert and one that is sure to stay as a staple in our household! Thanks for sharing it!

    • says

      Mama Poule, I’m so happy to hear this! Rhubarb compote sounds delicious. I’m having friends over for dinner tonight (we’re ordering pizza) but I was thinking about serving some vanilla ice cream (purchased) with rhubarb compote — I have just enough rhubarb on hand to make something like that. I love rhubarb season! And I am so happy to hear you liked the buckle. I need to make that one more time before rhubarb season passes. I still haven’t tried with other fruit, but I’m thinking blueberry might be good. And honestly, I think it was harder to take care of one child than 3. Seriously, when Ella was born, I didn’t do anything for months. I definitely didn’t make any buckles, so I’m impressed :)

  12. Tamara says

    Hi- long time reader, first time commenter :) I’ve made this recipe several times with rhubarb and it’s perfect. I decided to make it last night with the last of the peaches I had. Although it is as equally delicious, the peaches, once cooked, are much softer than the rhubarb and cutting the bars ( even after chilling in fridge) was really messy. And once they warmed up they were really hard for my co workers to pick up and eat. Again, totally delicious, but the rhubarb definitely holds up better for the bar stye. Thanks!

    • says

      Thanks so much for writing in with this info, Tamara! You know, someone else recently wrote in (commented on a different post I think, because I can’t find it here) saying she had tried the recipe with blueberries and found that it just wasn’t as good either as when she had used rhubarb. You would think this would be a recipe where the fruit could be easily substituted, but I guess not. Bizarre. Anyway, I’m so glad to hear you like this with rhubarb. If only rhubarb season were longer :) Thanks for writing in, and thanks for reading.

  13. Laurie Krotz says

    This sounds delish! I have to have gluten free so I am going to make this tomorrow using Bob’s Red Mill cup for cup gluten free flour. I hope it works!

  14. Mary Jo says

    I just put this in the oven and realized that I didn’t have the bottom parchment to lift it out of the pan. The instructions say invert the dough into the pan which I interpreted as flip it over. As I was doing that I was wondering if that part was worth the struggle of getting the paper off without wrecking the dough. I’m wondering if you didn’t mean insert instead of invert.

  15. Anna says

    I just made this with half rhubarb and half apples. I added a little cinnamon. Because…. I can never follow a recipe. The crust was great. Thank you!

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