Rhurbarb and rosewater cardamom crumble

It is the end of the traditional rhubarb forcing season and to mark this season’s end, I have a recipe with a twist on the traditional rhubarb crumble. The flavours North Africa and the Mediterranean have been added, with the curveball of rosewater to surprise the palate.

I must admit that my forced rhubarb is not Hebridean in origin, but at least in justification, I am supporting an important and seasonal piece of British food history and our food industry by buying it. It hails from the famous Rhubarb Triangle, an area of West Yorkshire between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell famous for producing early forced rhubarb in the darkness of forcing sheds. So historically important is this area for growing forced rhubarb, it was awarded Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status by the EU in 2010. The stems of forced rhubarb are crimson, delicate and sweet, quite a different animal the equally delightful outdoor thug that will be gracing the gardens and fields of the UK from now (well, if it warms up).

Of course, had the builders not dug out the foundation for the workshop while we were away on holiday, I would have had time to rescue our rhubarb. Alas, I have to start again by growing new crowns.

Crumble is so simple and delicious and of course, rhubarb crumble is hard to beat. Yes, it is patently a fairly rustic affair, but for something that tastes divine and takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare and 20 to cook, who could possibly resent the time spent to produce such cuddlesome comfort food. My time is very stretched just now, so crumble recipes are ideal for such busy phases.

To further bolster my argument, what better excuse to indulge in a comprehensive choice of delightful accompaniments of the dairy variety: ice cream, cream, custard, crème patisserie, crème fraiche or yoghurt. it really would not be the same without one of them, would it?

Rhubarb and rosewater cardamom crumble

I prefer to retain the sharpness of the rhubarb, so I don’t add much sugar at all, especially since the pomegranate molasses add sweetness.  This also applies to rosewater – don’t add too much or it becomes unpleasantly overpowering.

Preheat the oven to 180C

rhubarb crumble 3



250g rhubarb (it need not be forced)

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1/2 tsp rosewater

For crumble:

150g plain flour

50g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter, cubed

75g pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped

1 tsp ground cardamom

rhubarb crumble 1


  • Gently poach the rhubarb in a pan over a medium heat with the sugar, water, molasses and rosewater until it softens but still retains its shape and some texture.  This should take about 10 minutes for thin forced rhubarb.
  • Transfer the rhubarb to a gratin dish and sit aside for an hour to infuse the flavours together before topping with the crumble.
  • For the crumble, simply pulse then blitz the ingredients in a food processor, except the pistachios, but only enough to make them into a breadcrumb texture and no more.
  • Roughly chop the nuts and mix through the crumble before topping the rhubarb with the mixture. Bake for 20 minutes at 180C. Serve with your accompaniment of choice, I favoured single cream on this occasion.  The Man Named Sous went for home made Turron Ice cream, which worked too, apparently.

rhubarb crumble 2

52 thoughts on “Rhurbarb and rosewater cardamom crumble

  1. This sounds like just the right dessert for this miserable weather! And I might be able to buy the pomegranate molasses and rosewater in a small International store I’m using at the moment. For several years I hardly even noticed it. Inside it’s positively brimming with loads of spices and differing lentils and legumes. Heaven for me!

    • Thanks, sorry to learn of your rotten weather. Although it has been cold it is getting milder here now and we have had stunning sunshine and blue skies for 3 weeks, very unusual. Sounds like you have a good local store, I love rummaging in such places, something I miss up here and online shopping just isn’t the same. My molasses came from London, but I can get rosewater here at least.

  2. Sounds wonderful! I wonder were I would be able to find rosewater? I have seen it in many recipes but have not been able to locate it. Do you buy it from a local grocery store?

  3. Great post! Never heard of rhubarb before. This dish looks so tasteful. Have you noticed that, when it comes to food, often rustic is synonym of divine? 😉

  4. Great stuff – loving the pistachios in the crumble too.

    If you have any left, a local restaurant was doing a mackerel and rhubarb special this week. I was quite oblivious to the combo, but it’s a classic apparently. You learn something new….

  5. Oh yes, this recipe struck a cord. I love Rhubarb and the addition of Cardamon sounds yummy.
    This is one recipe I will be making this weekend.

  6. Hmmm… we cooked a lot of rhubarb last year and I noticed a distinct difference between the hothouse stuff–smaller, more delicate, and definitely redder, from the field-grown ones we tried. Is this what you mean by forced? The pomegranate molasses is a nice twist – pm is a treasure in itself. The crumble looks great. Ken

  7. I love rhubarb crumble and this looks like a particularly interesting version. Mine is slow growing this year but luckily a visitor just brought us some so very tempted to get crumbling.

  8. This is the second of your posts I found on my catch-up. The original dish is one of my favourite things so I’m interested to try this variation. Never heard of pomegranate molasses though – I wonder where I’d find it. Good you said not too much sugar – it’s very difficult to find a rhubarb dish which isn’t over-sweetened unless you make it yourself. Thank you for promoting the great Yorkshire ‘industry’ (though I’m glad you said it doesn’t need to be forced as it’s a bit late for that now). Coincidentally I was in Morley a couple of weeks ago and even did a post about it, though it was really about the classic camera I used so it was on my other blog – grumpytykepix.

    • Thanks, I got pomegranate molasses in a deli in Edinburgh, it seems to be quite easy to track down. You can get it online, Ottolenghi sells it. Great that rhubarb is now fully in season, hats off to these Yorkshire producers 🙂

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