OMW! Rhubarb Banana Cobbler
(gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, + low sugar)
I’ve been working on this healthy no wheat, no nut, no dairy cobblerfor a loooooong time. I can’t tell you how many versions of mediocre cobblers I’ve made in search of the perfect healthy ONE. It wasn’t easy to find the right balance of topping-to-filling that fit all of my special diet requirements. And I believe a good cobbler topping should support the main feature (the fruit) and not overpower it (as a pie crust provides the framework for the pie filling).
My favorite way to eat this cobbler is cold out of the fridge, standing at the counter, straight out of the pan. There’s something so satisfying about it, something that makes it even more of a treat. Not that this isn’t also a wonderful warm dessert, because it is. Either way, I eat mine sans add-ons. My husband likes his with yogurt on top. (Maybe try some of the new-fangled coconut yogurt for you vegans?)
However you eat it, if you don’t top it with ice cream, this hardly even counts as dessert.
I have a giant rhubarb plant in my garden here in Argentina. It has been one of the most successful plants that I’ve grown from seeds I brought from the US. All summer I’ve been trying to keep up with it, which has meant a rhubarb cobbler every few weeks. (Poor us)
I LOVE rhubarb cobbler. The bad thing about it is that rhubarb requires a lot more sugar that other fillings. The flavor can also be quite strong, almost pine-y sometimes (reminding me of Christmas). I’ve tried many fruit combinations with the rhubarb and crazily enough banana is the hands-down winner. Sounds weird maybe, but as my husband said when I finally served this one up, ‘You nailed it’. It IS delicious. The bananas perfectly offset the strong rhubarb, and they also make it possible to use FAR less added sugar in the recipe.
Now a few notes: This is one of those recipes you can take a zillion directions. Although this particular recipe is my absolute favorite, I will share a few pointers from my many (many!) gluten-free cobbler baking experiments…
1) If using rhubarb, I recommend using only real sugar in the fruit filling and in the topping. By all means go organic, but the flavors of honey, syrup, etc all clash with the rhubarb. Granted we don’t have things like agave syrup here, so I can’t say I’ve tried EVERY option. Just keep in mind that the rhubarb has a strong flavor, so keeping the ingredients and the topping simple and mild mean they won't compete with the main feature-- the baked fruit filling.
2) If you go with straight-up rhubarb, use a 3/4 cup of sugar in the fruit filling.
3) When I make cobbler with peaches, nectarines, blueberries, plums, grapes, or straight-up bananas, I don’t add ANY sugar to the filling. It’s probably not quite sweet enough for most palates, but to us it’s perfect using just the natural sugar in the sweeter fruits. If you know you prefer a bit of sweet, stick with the 1/3 cup of sugar, or maybe cut it to just 1/4. Apples need a bit more, around 1/2 cup of sugar.
4) If using any of the above fruits (in #3), you can use maple syrup in the topping instead of the sugar. You can also add a teaspoon of cinnamon (and a pinch of nutmeg) to the topping, if you like. Again, these flavors don’t work well with the rhubarb-based filling, but are nice with milder and sweeter fruits.
5) Oat flour is just finely ground oats. The traditional quick-cooking Quaker kind, not whole groats. You can make your own by zizzing up oats in a food processor. If you choose to use all traditional oats instead (a full 1 1/2 cups), it will still be a good cobbler topping. I have compared it though and definitely prefer the texture with the 1 cup oat flour.
6) I have not tried any sugar substitutes. For one, I do not ever put aspartame or sucralose or any of those fake sweeteners in my body. Period. Two, natural alternative sweeteners like stevia have very distinctive tastes. Three, I add almost no sugar to any of my food, ever- not even my morning tea- so a little sweetness is actually called for now and then. Moderation...balance, all that good stuff!
7) It could be that there is an egg-substitute that would work here for vegans. I haven’t tried anything along those lines. If you do, and have success with a particular vegan modification, please let me know and I’ll add it to the recipe notes.
Try this cobbler with this soup to make a dinner of it :)
That’s enough chatting, let’s get to the recipe!
Recipe for Rhubarb Banana Cobbler (gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and low sugar)
This is a very quick and healthy dessert. Prepping and mixing up a batch takes maybe 10 minutes. The rest is oven time.
Makes one 9x12 baking dish. You can halve the ingredients for an 8x8 square... but why would you want to? :)
10 large stalks rhubarb- cut in half and then into 1/2 inch pieces (4-5 cups total)
3 bananas- fresh ripe, or frozen thawed- cut into thick slices
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 pinches salt (maybe 1/8 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or preferred thickener)
1/3 cup sugar- preferably organic
1 cup oat flour (see note #5 above)
1/2 cup traditional quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup sugar- organic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup hot water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or butter)
Heat oven to 350F (175C).
Prepare the rhubarb and bananas and toss well in the 9x12 baking dish with the rest of the filling ingredients. Put in the oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
In a bowl, combine the oat flour, oats, sugar, salt and baking soda.
Heat the water. (An electric kettle works great if you’ve got one.) Combine the hot water, coconut oil (or butter), and vinegar. Let the oil melt completely.
A couple of minutes before the fruit is done baking (this first time), combine the wet and dry topping ingredients. Then mix in the eggs with a fork until thoroughly blended.
Remove the fruit from the oven, give it a stir, and re-spread evenly into one layer.
Spoon the topping loosely over the fruit. Bake another 18-22 minutes until the topping is fully set and starting to turn lightly brown.
Let cool at least 10 minutes, if you can. Keep any leftovers covered in the refrigerator.
Ready to bake- Rhubarb-Banana Cobbler Filling
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