Buttoned Up: Seasonal baking — rhubarb crumb bars

I was late to the rhubarb game.

I was never exposed to it growing up, and would glance right over it on a dessert menu (admittedly, not really knowing what it was). But once I was living on my own – and baking more regularly – I discovered this delicious and versatile ingredient.

Though technically a vegetable, rhurbarb’s tart flavor is fruit-like in taste and texture, and works beautifully in a variety of recipes – pies, jams and sauces.

I love tossing the cut up stalks with some flour and sugar and using them in cookies – like these crumb topped bars!

You are going to love this recipe – the cake base is light and tender. The crumb topping? Perfection – and so easy (I’m a crumb cake fanatic and this is one of the best I’ve tried). And the chopped rhubarb adds the perfect amount of tartness to offset all that sweet buttery goodness.

Rhubarb crumb bars (adapted from Martha Stewart)

6 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 cup flour

1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound rhubarb (about 2 stalks), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon light-brown sugar

1 cup flour, divided

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper in both directions, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.

Whisk together butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, brown sugar and 1/4 cup flour. In another medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder and salt.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, beat in vanilla, then flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with rhubarb and top with streusel.

Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake from pan. Cut into 16 bars.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife@getbuttonedup.com.