Rhubarb Crunch, Gluten & Dairy Free

by Donna Hann on 04/10/2015

Rhubarb Crunch, Gluten and Dairy Free

For nearly two years this blog has had no voice, due in large part to an accident that I recently shared with you here. Your responses to that blog post were surprising, overwhelming, heart-warming, and encouraging to me. I feel your supportive and prayerful messages in my heart. I reread them often. I surely didn’t expect your reactions, but am so thankful that you shared what you experienced when you read my story. You see, when someone has a brain injury, we often look, “just fine”. It’s called the “silent disability” for a reason. Although I may look “just the same as always”, (except for the added wrinkles this journey has awarded me) every day reminds me differently. Feeling your presence and support makes it that much easier. As Glennon Doyle Melton (the author of the fabulous book, Carry On Warrior, The Power of Embracing Your Messy Beautiful Life) said on her blog, Momastery:

“I believe that life starts when we stop running from pain and instead surrender to it. We can’t remain on the lam from pain forever. The running and deflecting and numbing always cause more trouble than the pain would have. Healing begins when we stop running and turn ourselves in. We say: here I am, pain. I give up. Have your way with me. All that stuff really happened. I’ll let myself feel it now. Then I’ll tell the story and let other people feel it, too.”

And that’s what I’m doing – for me, and for you (if you’d like).

Gluten Free Rhubarb Crunch (Dairy Free Option)


As I entered our local health food store on Tuesday, I was tickled pink when I saw rhubarb. You see, growing up as a “home permed”, red haired, freckle faced, little farm girl, (picture the original Little Orphan Annie movie from 1982 – except I couldn’t sing!) I loved it when my mom would bake rhubarb crunch in the Spring. I don’t recall that we grew it ourselves, but rather think we got the rhubarb from Amish friends or the friendly neighbors at the top of the hill whose rhubarb patch overtook the bank in front of their graying green, well worn, farm house in early April & May.

Seeing the very long red stalks of rhubarb with their greenish leafy tips this week was a happy sign. In the months following my accident, I thought that the only memory issues I had were short term ones, and that everything that had happened prior to the accident was still snugly intact in my little noggin. However, recently, I’ve noticed more and more occasions where memories from before my accident are foggy or just plain gone. Seeing the rhubarb nestled in the produce display and subsequently recalling those days on the farm felt hopeful and familiar. Again, I am humbly reminded that the present is what is precious and real.

We expected that Mom would serve the rhubarb crunch with vanilla ice cream. I loved how it would melt over the warm creation which she baked up in her 8″ square aluminum baking pan. The sweetness of the ice cream, which puddled through the crunchy, cobbly, oatmeal and cinnamon topping, balanced the inherent sour tang of the gilded ruby colored fruit beneath it.

Diced Rhubarb Meets Sweet Glaze

This recipe was one of the first recipes that made it from my mother’s well worn blue fabric recipe binder into my own. I’ve been making it for years- my husband and children all rhubarb crunch junkies like myself now. I’ve tweaked the recipe a touch, making it gluten free and offering the option to serve it up dairy free. It’s an extra special recipe both because it brings back fond memories of childhood and because rhubarb isn’t something you’ll likely find in the frozen section of your local grocery. We savor it because it is one of those gifts from the land we enjoy while it is growing here and don’t take for granted that we can find it year round because it’s shipped in from some never, never land we can’t pronounce. When it pushes its way through the earth and announces that winter is over, I celebrate. I celebrate for the return of rhubarb and memories of mom’s delicious “crunch” from the place where a million fireflies still fly at night, and the reminder to be present for each moment I experience.

Warm from the oven rhubarb crisp

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Rhubarb Crunch, Gluten & Dairy Free
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A Spring dessert that brings back memories of my childhood on the farm in rural northern Ohio.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6-8
For the Crunch:
  • 1 cup Gluten Free Flour (I use my flour blend with no gums)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ cup grape seed oil, melted coconut oil, or melted butter
For the Fruit:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, I use Authentic Foods Non-GMO Cornstarch
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups diced rhubarb stalks, leaves discarded
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the Crunch:
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until crumbly. Gently press half of this mixture into the bottom of an 8 or 9" square pan that has been sprayed with pan spray, if necessary. Reserve remaining crunch mixture for the topping.
For the Fruit:
  1. Place the sugar, cornstarch, salt and water in small saucepan and stir until mixed. Cook over medium heat until mixture becomes clear and begins to bubble. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and stir to combine. Pour glaze over the fruit. Pour glazed fruit mixture into baking pan on to crunch layer. Crumble remaining crunch topping over the fruit.
  2. Bake 40-50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Please visit www.tessadomesticdiva.com/allergy-free-wednesdays  where I have shared this recipe on a fun “blog share” hosted by seven moms with a focus on food allergy sensitive recipes.


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