Skip to content

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

May 8, 2014

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb TartPin it!

I am so excited that it’s rhubarb season. And I wasn’t expecting to be excited about anything this month other than counting down the days until I finish my PhD. (30 days until my dissertation defense!)

Despite my looming deadline, and feeling overwhelmed and anxious because of it, I’ve bought every nice-looking stalk of rhubarb I’ve come across so far this year, and haven’t let a single one go to waste.

Lately whenever I open the fridge door, the jumble of rhubarb stalks stuffed onto the top shelf reminds me to bake. So I’ve been baking. And I think the baking is therapeutic. I’ll probably owe a good chunk of my degree to butter, sugar, and flour. (And, of course, to all of the home cooked dinners Paula and I have made in this kitchen, where I’ve lived for 6 of the 7 years of my PhD program.)

Making Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

If I hadn’t set aside time and money to cook (and eat) my way through the stress, I think I would have dropped out of grad school long ago. Restaurant take-out and quick frozen dinners are fine every once in a while, but I’m sure I would have been miserable if I hadn’t started reserving evenings and weekends for the therapeutic, money-saving, healthy, and wonderful act of cooking.

This got me thinking. Besides the obvious people I’ll acknowledge in my dissertation (my advisor, my professors, Paula, etc.), there are also many… let’s say entities I’d like to acknowledge, even if these won’t make it into the official dissertation.

I give you, in no particular order, My Unofficial Dissertation Acknowledgments:

  • Cooking and baking. For obvious reasons: save money AND end up with something delicious to eat, all while creating something tangible with your hands that won’t disappear if you haven’t backed up your hard drive properly, and that won’t give you carpal tunnel arm or shoulder pain from too much laptopping.
  • External hard drives, for backing things up properly.
  • Orange tic tacs, Smarties, Dum Dums, and sugar in general.
  • My toothbrush and my dentist. (For obvious reasons.)

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb TartPin it!

  • Yoga, yoga buddies (you know who you are), yoga teachers and classes (when I could afford them), online yoga videos (when car trouble and a lack of money, energy, and motivation kept me at home), and — just recently — restorative yoga for easing anxiety and back pain.
  • Coffee and green tea.

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

  • TV. Especially Netflix. And especially Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, and basically anything with Tina Fey or Amy Poehler. (Before I became a graduate student, I used to read books for fun. Someday after I graduate, I hope to do that again…)
  • Paula’s homemade cookies (usually these from smitten kitchen).

Making Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

  • Facebook. Although, let’s be honest, I also would have finished this PhD at least a year earlier if it never existed.
  • Along those same lines: Hannah Hart’s My Drunk Kitchen videos, and the MathDoku app on my phone.

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb TartPin it!

  • Wireless internet.
  • Library privileges.
  • Knitting, mostly for stress relief. In 1.5 years of knitting, I’ve made precisely 1.5 scarves. (Meanwhile, in that same amount of time, Paula’s made at least 10 scarves and cowls, at least 8 hats, some handkerchiefs, and half of two sweaters.)

Making Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

  • Classical music and jazz with no lyrics. But also: Florence & the Machine and Janelle Monáe.
  • My part-time proofreading and editing jobs. There’s nothing like getting to feel productive by reading over someone else’s writing and making it better, instead of having to write something yourself, from scratch.

Making Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

  • Coffee shops, in the early days of dissertating, and my beloved apartment in the last year.
  • Yoga pants. (Not just for yoga!) Probably the main reason (other than easily accessible snacks) that I prefer to work on my dissertation from home.

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb TartPin it!

  • Leftovers and home-cooked freezer meals. I love not cooking almost as much as I love cooking.
  • Rotisserie chicken from Costco. (For the same reason.)

Making Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

  • My standing desk: a state-of-the-art cardboard box set on top of my desk. What it lacks in class, it makes up for in functionality.
  • Wine, beer, and gin & tonics. But mostly wine.

Making Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

  • Out-of-town friends for asking me how my PhD program was going, and for not asking me how it was going!
  • In-town friends for putting up with how anti-social I’ve become, especially in the past 8 months. (If we’ve only hung out about twice during that time, I still like you! Let’s hang out in June!)

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb TartPin it!

  • Korean and Arabic language classes (although over the last year, I think I’ve forgotten almost everything I learned), for the fun distraction and for reminding me that I love languages and language-learning more than linguistics.
  • Being able to TA for Japanese: hands-down the most enjoyable way I’ve ever earned money. (The teaching, not the grading.)

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb TartPin it!

  • Letting myself take evenings and weekends off from laptopping (other than working on this blog). This has taken a lot of convincing on Paula’s part, but I’m very grateful for it.
  • Other food blogs, for the inspiration, community, and much needed study breaks.

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb TartPin it!

  • My blog, my readers, and your comments! Since I haven’t (yet?!) switched to self-hosting, I can’t accept ads or host giveaways, or otherwise make any income off of this blog. So why do I do it? Well, for all of the just-for-fun reasons many recipe bloggers blog. I love thinking and talking about food, and trying and sharing new recipes, so why not get to do that with an even bigger circle of friends. Like Facebook — but worse, this blog has taken HOURS away from my dissertation each week. I’ve even considered quitting because of the time/energy commitment, but every time I get a comment from one of you saying that you plan to try a recipe, or that you tried and enjoyed a recipe, it absolutely makes my day. And it makes me want to keep blogging forever.

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb TartPin it!

Okay, I think that’s enough acknowledging for now… Let’s get back to the point of this post: Rhubarb.

The first time I made this tart, it was for a dinner party, and I warned our friends that I’d used rhubarb instead of raspberries as an “experiment,” assuring everyone that if the experiment failed and it tasted awful, then at least we still had vanilla ice cream! (A word of advice: save your baking experiments for non-dinner-party situations, and serve your tried-and-true recipes for guests. Just because I repeatedly fail to follow this advice, it doesn’t mean you have to make the same mistakes…)

Making Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Turns out, the experiment was a success: our friends enjoyed it so much, they asked for the recipe. And that was even before I thought of adding a layer of strawberries underneath the rhubarb!

I adapted it from a recipe for a raspberry brown butter tart, which uses browned butter in the custardy filling, but melted butter in the tart crust. If you’ve never had brown butter, you’re in for a treat. It’s rich, nutty, and… melted, so I thought why not substitute it for the melted butter and put brown butter in both the crust and the filling? I also added a sprinkling of turbinado sugar over the top in the last 10 minutes of baking — without it, it’s a little less pretty and a little less sweet, but it will still taste like springtime either way.

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb TartPin it!

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart
(Adapted from Bon Appétit‘s Brown Butter Raspberry Tart.)

(Makes one 9-inch tart; Serves 8)

Active time: 45 minutes; Total time: 90 minutes.

Tart Crust Ingredients:
~ 1 stick butter (half of the browned butter — see below)
~ ¼ cup sugar
~ ¼ tsp. salt
~ ½ tsp. vanilla extract
~ 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. flour
~ 2 Tbsp. cold water

Filling Ingredients:
~ 1 stick butter (half of the browned butter — see below)
~ 10 oz. rhubarb (5 thinnish stalks), stringy parts removed, then diced
~ squeeze of fresh lemon juice
~ ½ cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar (plus another 1 Tbsp. to toss with rhubarb)
~ ¼ tsp. salt
~ 2 eggs
~ ½ tsp. vanilla extract
~ 3 Tbsp. flour
~ 6 oz. strawberries, thinly sliced (or enough to cover the tart crust in a single layer)
~ 1½ Tbsp. turbinado sugar (to sprinkle over the top)

Special equipment needed:
~ a 9″ tart pan with removable bottom, or a 9″ ceramic tart/pie dish

How to make it:

1. Place the oven rack in the center of the oven and pre-heat to 375 degrees. Brown the butter: Dice up both sticks of butter (for the crust and the filling) into small cubes, then melt them together in a small pan over low heat, stirring constantly for 6-8 minutes. It will turn white and frothy, then clear and bubbly, then will eventually start to turn brown and smell nutty. Once it’s browned, pour it all into a glass measuring cup (you can leave some of the most browned solid bits behind). Then let sit for a few minutes before pouring half of the browned butter into another glass measuring cup or bowl, so that each have about half a cup. (The remaining browned solid bits should stay behind in the first half-cup: you can use this to make the crust. Save the clearer half-cup of browned butter to make the filling.)

Note: If you don’t want to brown the butter, you’ll be missing out on the flavor, but you can still make the tart crust and filling using plain melted butter instead.

Browning the butterBrowned butter

2. Make the crust: in a medium bowl, stir together a half cup of the browned butter, the sugar, salt, and the vanilla. Then gradually stir in the flour and the cold water until well incorporated. Turn out dough into the tart pan, and use your fingers to press the dough evenly around the sides and across the bottom of the pan. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 17 minutes, then remove from the oven, but leave the oven on.

The tart crust, ready to bake        Making Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

3. While the crust is baking, prepare the rhubarb by removing any thick stringy bits and evenly dicing it. Toss diced rhubarb in a bowl with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and 1 tablespoon sugar and set aside.

4. Make the filling: wipe out the medium bowl used for the crust and use it to whisk together the sugar, salt, eggs, and vanilla, then whisk in the flour until smooth. Set aside. Thinly slice the strawberries.

5. Once the crust has come out of the oven and cooled for at least 5 minutes, arrange the sliced strawberries evenly across the bottom of the tart crust, in a single layer. Then, starting from the outside, arrange the rhubarb tightly in concentric circles (with its cut surfaces facing to the sides, not up and down).

6. Gradually whisk the remaining (clearer) half cup of browned butter into the filling mixture from step #4. Then slowly pour the filling over the rhubarb to evenly fill the crust. (It’s fine to fill it to the brim, but stop pouring before it spills over the edges — you might end up with a spoonful or two of filling that doesn’t fit.)

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb TartBrown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

7. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the filling puffs and turns a golden brown. Optionally remove from the oven after 35 minutes and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, then return to the oven for the last 5-10 minutes of baking. Let tart cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, then optionally un-mold from the tart pan. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 24 hours, or in the fridge after that. Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream.

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Brown Butter Strawberry Rhubarb TartPin it!

Related recipe posts:

Rhubarb Strawberry Galette Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars Apricot Almond Galette Berry Rhubarb Crisp (Gluten-Free)
Rhubarb Strawberry Birthday Galette Peach Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars Apricot Almond Galette Berry Rhubarb Crisp (Gluten-Free)
62 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2014 8:56 am

    Browned butter is always appropriate. And someone should come up with a browned butter perfume!

  2. May 8, 2014 8:57 am


  3. May 8, 2014 9:16 am

    Looks and sounds great, although I need to go off and google turbinado sugar… And you only get to live in the kitchen? Ah, well, I can think of worse confinements, I guess ;)

    Really want to try this. Recently made my first ever attempt at a frangipane tart and was planning to have a go at another one featuring rhubarb, but now I want to have a crack at this custard filling… Oh, man!

    • May 8, 2014 9:34 am

      Yes, you cut right to the chase. :) I’ve basically only gotten to “live” in the kitchen, but I’d say that’s mainly been just for the past 8 months (which, to be honest, have flown by — just as quickly as I was worried they would). Anyway, it’s not like I was such a dedicated worker for all 7 years of grad school… I mean, if I had been, it would NOT have taken me a whole 7 years!

      I’ve never tried making a frangipane tart, but I love all things almond-y so that’s definitely on my list. I was really unsure at first how this tart would work with rhubarb, since the only way I’d ever baked with rhubarb before was first breaking it down a little first by cooking it with sugar on the stove top, before pouring it into whatever baked treat I was making. So I was worried that the baking time (and amount of sugar) might not be quite enough to combat rhubarb’s stringiness and tartness, but it turned out just perfectly!

      (And in this case I’ve suggested tossing the diced rhubarb with sugar and lemon juice, but I’ve also made this tart without doing that, and it still turned out fine!)

  4. May 8, 2014 9:20 am

    Aha… Turbinado. I tend to use Demerara, which seems similar. Nice crunchy topping then. Extra points.

    • May 8, 2014 9:35 am

      :) Thanks! As far as I know, Turbinado is just another name for Demerara sugar. (There might be some subtle difference between them that I’m not aware of, but I’m sure they’re close enough that you could substitute one for the other…)

  5. May 8, 2014 9:36 am

    Hmmm this looks so yummy!

  6. May 8, 2014 10:14 am

    What a beautiful tart! I’d better get myself some rhubarb soon, because I’m just going to keep thinking about this tart until I can make one myself. While I’m not yet in the dissertating stage of my program, I can relate to a lot of your acknowledgements (especially the yoga pants and leftover meals!) – great list! Good luck with the defense, and I hope you find ways to combat the anxiety over the next few weeks :)

    • May 15, 2014 9:46 am

      Thank you! I hope you can find rhubarb soon… It’s been tricky to find it around here this early in the season, but I’m on a mission! (Oh wait… I see that you did!) :)

      Anyway, thanks for your encouragement. And best of luck with whatever stage of grad school you’re in! It’s not like the pre-dissertating stage was any picnic either…

  7. sophiebowns permalink
    May 8, 2014 10:20 am

    This looks scrumptious!

  8. May 8, 2014 11:57 am

    Congrats on almost finishing your PhD! I’ve never tried rhubarb but this recipe is tempting me — you had me at “brown butter”

    • May 15, 2014 9:50 am

      Thank you! :) I know, man, “brown butter” is so good. I can’t believe there was a time when I would have skipped that step out of laziness.

      You HAVE to try rhubarb if you never have! This recipe is a little unusual for rhubarb I think… you might want to try a more classic rhubarb dessert first, like bars or crisp. Oh wait, but brown butter… ok, nevermind — try this one first! :)

  9. May 8, 2014 12:15 pm

    Love your unofficial dissertation acknowledgments!

  10. May 8, 2014 12:42 pm

    You are such a rockstar! DOCTOR Tomato has a nice ring, dontcha think?

    This looks lovely, by the way. Rhubarb has a rep for not being pretty… But this is SO pretty. Love those green-red cubes!

    • May 15, 2014 9:57 am

      Thank you! I have to say, I was inspired by your gorgeous, geometric, pink rhubarb cake (which was also VERY pretty) to do something a little different with rhubarb than usual.

      And thanks for the encouragement! Although “doctor tomato” kind of sounds like a misguided attempt at naming a pro-GMO cartoon mascot… (And I plan to never refer to myself as a “doctor,” since I’m getting a PhD in linguistics… although I’m sure those people exist!)

  11. May 8, 2014 1:02 pm

    I really like the “tiling” effect of the rhubarb on top. All the best with the defense!

    • May 15, 2014 10:12 am

      Thanks so much! Yes, I wasn’t sure how much the rhubarb would float around once I poured in the filling, but it worked well enough to pack it tightly like that, and I thought the “tiling” effect was unexpectedly nice-looking, too. :)

  12. May 8, 2014 4:50 pm

    Wow, I cannot feel your full pain but I get the idea. I just finished my masters (defended thesis!) which was only 2 years but I went straight from undergraduate so it’s been 7 years of school. I’ve been the most anti-social the last months especially but overall I’ve been a broken record of I have homework, I have class, I’m studying for finals, etc. So a very big congratulations to you on almost being done!! Also, I’m amazed you have had time for baking- that was the first to go but I get it’s therapy :)

    • May 15, 2014 10:43 am

      Yay, congratulations on defending your masters thesis! 7 years is a lot of school in a row… (and I CAN feel your pain on that one, because I’ve been in my MA/PhD program for 7 years now!). Also I’m totally with you about feeling like a broken record talking about school to all of my poor family/friends/acquaintances who get stuck having to listen…

      I can also totally imagine home-cooking being the first thing to go when school gets busy (as much as I loved eating as an undergrad, cooking from scratch would NOT have been my priority back then), but in grad school it’s been one of the main things that’s helped me keep my sanity and my connection to what’s important in real life, outside of school.

      • May 22, 2014 4:16 pm

        Thanks Allison for your response! And thanks for the congratulations! I am definitely ready for a break from school :)

  13. May 8, 2014 5:25 pm

    Oh my gosh, that is BEAUTIFUL Allison! I adore rhubarb, it’s one of my absolute favourite things… particularly when in a tart like this. YAY for the fact that your PhD is almost in your grasp! Not long to go at all (though I realize that the end stretch can be the hardest one during which to maintain motivation… long-haul study sucks). Love your survival list. Definitely agree that social media kills hours of productivity… but then, it’s so much fun? Uh, right…? Anyway, good luck with the final days of the PhD. You are going to do fantastically!!! xx

    • May 15, 2014 10:59 am

      Thank you, Laura! Rhubarb is one of my favorite things, too. And yes, it seems pathetic to admit, but I really can’t imagine what grad school would have been like without Facebook… I mean I either would have gotten through it a lot faster, or maybe not at all? Haha. Anyway, thanks for the encouragement — I can’t wait until my dissertation defense is behind me!

  14. May 8, 2014 7:57 pm

    What a beautiful tart! And browned butter is always genius.

    • May 15, 2014 11:04 am

      Thank you! And yep, I agree about browned butter. I don’t think it would have occurred to me to combine it with rhubarb — I just found an original recipe that called for raspberries, and thought it looked easy enough to substitute rhubarb into that… and then I just went for it and made the crust with browned butter, too! No surprise I guess, but it turns out they go together very well. :)

  15. May 9, 2014 2:21 am

    Oh I’m going to bookmark that recipe! It’s the start of winter here so no good strawberries for a while but I will try it. Brown butter filling sounds delicious. Congrats on the PHD.

    • May 15, 2014 11:06 am

      Yay, I’m so glad to hear it! (And thank you!!)

      I’m not sure if you’ll be able to find rhubarb there now if you can’t find strawberries, but just so you know, I’ve also made this tart with only rhubarb (skipping the layer of strawberries), and just slightly increased the amount of sugar in the filling, and it was still delicious!

  16. May 9, 2014 3:02 am

    Love rhubarb and this tart looks super. What a grand way to acknowledge your support and inspiration.

  17. Debbie Spivey permalink
    May 9, 2014 6:03 am

    I’ve never tried Rhubarb before. If I find some soon, I am going to try it!

    • May 15, 2014 11:10 am

      Yes, you definitely should! I absolutely love rhubarb… if you enjoy tart, fruity flavors then I’m sure you’ll like it too. As I mentioned above, this is kind of an unusual recipe for rhubarb I think, so you might want to try it in bar- or crumble/crisp-form first…

      • Debbie Spivey permalink
        May 15, 2014 11:26 am

        Thanks for the advise!

  18. May 9, 2014 12:39 pm

    Mad props to you for mastering the balance between blogging and dissertating. This list is so great and so freaking real! We’ve had good looking rhubarb here once in the last 5 weeks, but you can bet that one time it looked good I bought a bunch and baked with it! (I also infused some gin with it…this reminds me that the infusion is probably ready to drink!) The strawberries have been really awesome lately, though. Sweet!

    • May 15, 2014 11:17 am

      Thanks so much, Brianne! I’m glad you enjoyed reading the list. :) I already heard from at least one friend who came into my grad program after me that she plans to use it as a rough guide for dissertating, once she gets to that stage. (Although I half-jokingly advised against it!)

      Rhubarb-infused gin sounds HEAVENLY. Even though I’ve gotten to bake with rhubarb 4 or 5 times already this year, I haven’t been able to find any more of it since I made the photographed version of the tart for this post, and it’s driving me crazy because I want to make all of the rhubarb things!

      I guess I just have to be patient… last summer I was making my peach rhubarb bars about once a week, and just tossing in whatever other berries were around the house too, but not until like July/August/Sept… I still can’t get used to the timing of rhubarb season in seasonless southern CA!

  19. May 9, 2014 12:48 pm

    This is absolutely stunning. Such attention to detail and presentation. I love the strawberry rhubarb combination. I just made crumble for the first time (not posted, but wonderful. I may make this. I’m afraid of butter, but for an entire pie, I can get over it. Hilarious acknowledgments. It’s amazing when you break down the things you love and spend your time doing.

    • May 15, 2014 11:20 am

      Thank you, Amanda!!

      I say, don’t be afraid of butter! I mean sure, it’s a little crazy that this tart uses TWO sticks of butter, but of course it’s meant to be shared by many people. (Or eaten straight out of the fridge by just two people over many days…) And in my experience, most great desserts have at least one stick of butter… but of course the real key ingredient is the (strawberry+)rhubarb! I love it in crisp/crumble form, too… so much easier than making a pie and still so so tart, tempting, and satisfying!

  20. May 9, 2014 1:35 pm

    this is beautiful! strawberries and rhubarb are one of my favorite combos. especially in a classic, latticed pie. (i made this recipe
    rhubarb is definitely one of my favorite parts of spring!

  21. May 9, 2014 4:14 pm

    How perfectly gorgeous! One of my favorite flavor combinations, as well, and this looks so delicate and delicious.

  22. afracooking permalink
    May 10, 2014 4:36 am

    What an increadibly beautiful tart! So wonderful that spring and rhubarb season have arrived again :-)

    • May 15, 2014 11:45 am

      Thanks! Yes, I only wish nice-looking rhubarb were even easier to find around here… I’ve actually only found it in grocery stores, not at the farmers’ market yet, and since I made & photographed this tart, I haven’t been able to find more of it! Once it really starts showing up at the farm stands around here, I plan to bake with it just about every week in the summer. :)

  23. May 12, 2014 6:59 pm

    This looks amazing!! I can’t wait to go and buy some rhubarbs now!!

  24. May 13, 2014 10:37 am

    I have never worked with rhubarb before…so excited to try this recipe! Love your blog Allison =)

    • May 15, 2014 12:20 pm

      Thank you so much, Divya! :) I’d be thrilled to hear what you think of this recipe if you get the chance to try it.

      And as I mentioned to a few people in the comments above, too, this recipe is a little unusual for rhubarb since it doesn’t get cooked down with lots of sugar first, but kind of keeps its shape/form a little more (which is why it’s better to use very thin stalks, that tend to be less tough/stringy for this recipe).

      Some other (more common) ways to start working with rhubarb are in crisps or bars!

      • May 17, 2014 6:32 pm

        Thanks for the tip! The bars looks good too. I’ll let you know how they work out for me =)

  25. May 13, 2014 11:56 am

    YES! Yum.

  26. May 16, 2014 8:38 pm

    What a work of art. I love how you assembled this tart. I bet it was over the top delicious! Really enjoyed this post! You are a fun person… :)

    • May 22, 2014 10:06 am

      Thank you! :) It was pretty over the top delicious, especially once I added the layer of strawberries, and the extra sprinkling of sugar on top.

      I am having the hardest time finding rhubarb now, but I really want to make this again… I’ll probably just end up waiting and making it about 15 times during July & August to compensate!

  27. May 26, 2014 6:33 am

    Looks scrumptious!

  28. June 25, 2014 12:11 am

    Oh how I want a piece of this tart!!! An amazing treat!


  1. Recipe Roundup: Celebrate Spring with Strawberries | southernbeets
  2. Strawberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal | spontaneous tomato

I love, love, love reading your comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: