Ricotta Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars are my family’s favourite pastry to enjoy at coffee time in the Spring and Summer.
We use local Ontario grown rhubarb, which we cook into a stew and layer with creamy ricotta cheese and two layers of oatmeal crumble.
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Rhubarb History & Uses
Rhubarb has been around forever, thank the Lord!
First known in Asia around 2700 BC and introduced to Europe around the 14th century, rhubarb was once a highly valuable commodity costing more than rare spices like saffron and cinnamon, and valued for its laxative qualities, common knowledge in Shakespearean times: “What rhubarb, cyme, or what purgative drug, Would scour these English hence?” growled Macbeth. He was talking about the roots; it would be another couple of centuries before home cooks started using the stalks.
Scandinavian cooks love cooking and baking with rhubarb. The fibrous stalks are typically harvested in Europe and North America in the late Spring and early Summer. In Sweden the tart fruit can be found in many culinary treats including jams, jellies, pies, cakes, squares, ice cream and sparkling cider.
Way back when, a common and affordable sweet for children in parts of the United Kingdom and Sweden was a tender stick of rhubarb, dipped in sugar. It is still eaten this way in Finland, Norway, Canada, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Faroe Islands and Sweden.
Rhubarb as a central ingredient mostly shows up in desserts like pies, crumbles and crisps, but it can also hold its own in haute cuisine.
At Noma in Copenhagen, repeatedly voted the world’s best restaurant, the tender stalks have been served with milk curds. Thomas Keller features it in his cookbook The French Laundry as a confit paired with navel oranges, candied fennel, and mascarpone sorbet. Think of rhubarb as a ruffian weed that’s climbed the culinary ladder—one theory posits that one of the origins of the name has the “barb” part stemming from the same etymological root as “barbarian”.
We prepare Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars at home each Spring and Summer, between in May and August when our family rhubarb bush in the backyard garden has fully grown. It’s a favourite pastry to enjoy at a coffee break or tea time.
Travel To Sweden by Baking Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
I was in Stockholm during the Midsommar festival, and instantly fell in love with oatmeal rhubarb bars. I encountered a version of this recipe at a Michelin star restaurant as a decadent seasonal dessert paired with local sparkling strawberry cider.
Once back home from a Scandinavian holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Sweden and can impress friends and family by making your very own homemade Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars!
My Family Loves Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars
After encountering Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars on a visit to Sweden during Midsommar I thought I should introduce the baked good to my family.
My mother has a famous rhubarb plant that has been passed down for generations through her family. The hearty rhubarb bush has been transplanted several times, bursting through the soil at our home in Markham, Oakville, Muskoka and Toronto.
We harvest our rhubarb plant at home and at the cottage throughout the Spring and Summer. Our favourite way to use the tart and fibrous stocks is to chop them up and transform them into Healthy Rhubarb Muffins, Rhubarb Strawberry Dutch Baby, Rhubarb and Ginger Gin Cocktail or Pickled Rhubarb.
I first baked this easy homemade squares recipe in the Spring when rhubarb stalks are strong and ready to harvest. We typically serve the bars as a quick & easy breakfast with a cup of coffee. They’re also a yummy late night dessert served with a few scoops of berry gelato or vanilla ice cream.
Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars Recipe Tips
If it’s your first time baking Ricotta Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars at home be sure to review our detailed step-by-step recipe below. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started:
- We suggest using a high quality rubber spatula when mixing the oat crumble so you can easily stir and scrape down the side of the bowl.
- You can prepare this recipe by harvesting your own rhubarb or by purchasing stalks at your local grocery store or farmers market. We prefer to use fresh rhubarb of course but you can also make this recipe using frozen rhubarb if you have any in the freezer from last season.
- We’ve used large rolled oats in this recipe as we like the eye appeal but you can substitute for quick oats.
- Since rhubarb and strawberry are such a classic pairing feel free to add sliced strawberries to the rhubarb when cooking the stew for additional flavour.
- If you don’t like ricotta or cheese feel free to omit from the recipe and just layer with oatmeal crumble base, stewed rhubarb and oatmeal crumble topping.
What To Serve With Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars
We suggest serving these Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars at tea time or during a coffee break. If you’re serving this recipe to kids pour mugs full of hot chocolate or a simple glass of cold milk.
You can also serve a decadent ice cream sundae by placing one of the squares in a bowl and topping with your favourite scoop of ice cream, gelato or sorbet.
If you’re looking to host a Swedish or Scandinavian potluck or dinner party, feel free to serve these homemade oat bars with popular dishes like Jordgubbstårta, Smörgåstårta and Kardemummabullar Swedish Cardamom Buns.
How To Store Bars
If you have leftovers, cover the bars in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for 5-7 days.
You can also freeze leftover bars for 2 to 3 months. Be sure to slice the bars before storing in the freezer, wrapped individually with plastic wrap, so you can easily reheat slices whenever you have a craving for sweets!
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Best Homemade Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars Recipe
Ricotta Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Mixing bowls
- French knife
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- Square Baking Pan
- 375 g Rhubarb cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup White Sugar
- 2 tbsp Cornstarch
- 1/4 cup Cold Water
- 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Ricotta Cheese
Crust & Topping
- 1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
- 1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- 1/2 cup Walnuts chopped
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter room temperature
- To make the filling, combine the rhubarb and white sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb has broken down and is soupy, about 10 minutes.
- Stir the cornstarch into the water to make a slurry, then stir that into the rhubarb mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, just until thick, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.
- To make the crust and topping, put the oats, flour, brown sugar, walnuts, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add the butter and use your fingers to work it in until the mixture is crumbly.
- To assemble and bake the bars, transfer half of the mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly across the bottom. Scoop ricotta over the crust and using the back of a spoon spread it evenly across. Pour over the rhubarb filling and spread it in an even layer. Sprinkle clumps of the remaining oat mixture over the filling.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.
- Let cool completely before cutting and serving.
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