There are certain things that take you back. A song on the radio, a smell, an old well-loved shirt. For me, it’s this rhubarb dessert. It’s a feeling of summer, sunshine, and warm breezes. Slamming screen doors, a yellow Formica table with wooden benches, card games, and family.
Growing up we had a tradition where we spent a week in an un-airconditioned cabin up north. Most of the time it was just the women of the family and we’d cook, eat, explore, shop, and play card games late into the night.
This is where we ate rhubarb dessert. Once a year, wearing her Birkenstocks (before they were cool) and floral muumuu, Grandma Bev would make it in the little cabin kitchen. Each year Grandma would complain about the humidity, which caused the perfectly fluffed meringue to weep (a tradition we’ve carried on). And each year the kids would eat only the topping and crust or, if the adults were lucky, all together proclaim “I don’t like it”, which meant more for them! It became a sign of summer. Tangy, sweet, and fluffy, each layer of this dessert nothing without the others.
Although my grandma passed away, and shortly after we stopped going to the cabin, this dessert always brings back fond memories for me. We’ve since spent our time gathering at my parents’ house on the lake. Easier to fit in to ourbusy grown-up schedules, and closer (not to mention air conditioned) our traditions have changed, but this dessert and the importance of sharing time with family have stayed the same.
A few years ago I couldn’t find Grandma Bev’s recipe in my cupboard so I took to searching all the online platforms. After scouring Pinterest, Googling, and reading recipe after recipe without any success I finally gave in and called my mother. I’ve never found a rhubarb dessert recipe resembling this one so here I am, sharing it with you.
1 cup butter
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
6 egg yokes
2 cups + 3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup cream
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups chopped rhubarb
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix crust ingredients and pat into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake until golden brown.
- While crust bakes mix filling ingredients in a large bowl.
- Once crust is golden brown, pour rhubarb filling on top of crust and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Whip egg whites with cream of tartar and salt until egg whites are stiff. Gradually add sugar while whipping egg whites until combined.
- Mound meringue on top of baked rhubarb and bake until meringue topping is lightly browned.
*** When Grandma Bev made this recipe she NEVER timed anything. She’d just periodically check on the dessert to determine how done it was (cabin time). ***