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Slow Food: Julia Ostro's Rhubarb Oat Crumble Cake

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While May has been uncharacteristically warm in Melbourne, the cold weather is coming. And we can’t think of anything better than a slow, long June weekend baking indoors.

Balancing the tart with the sweet and subtly rich, local cook and food author, Julia Ostro, has the perfect dessert to make at home on a rainy day.

“I love them still-warm from the oven, all buttery and a little soft. They are more than satisfactory  eaten at room temperature and will last 3-4 days in container.” 

Light the fire, brew a pot of tea, and take some time to get back to the simple art of baking with Ostro’s rhubarb oat crumble cake.

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For the base

150g unsalted butter

150g raw sugar

2 eggs

50g (1/2 cup) almond meal

190g plain flour 

1/2 tsp baking powder


1 bunch of rhubarb, trimmed and leaves discarded

2tbsp raw sugar

1 tbsp plain flour

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Generous pinch of black pepper

2 cloves, ground

Oat topping

210g rolled oats

60g raw sugar

1 tbsp plain flour

Three-fingered pinch of sea salt

100g unsalted butter, cold and cut into 3cm cubes


Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm square tin and set aside. 

For the base, melt the butter in a small pot and simmer until nutty and brown. Set aside to cool briefly. 

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs until pale. Stir in the cooled melted brown butter, followed by the almond meal, flour and baking powder and mix until all combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and spread out evenly. Set aside. 

For the rhubarb filling, cut the rhubarb into 2cm pieces and transfer to a medium bowl. Sprinkle in the sugar, flour and spices and toss to coat. Scatter this mixture evenly over the prepared base, pressing the rhubarb gently into the batter. 

To prepare the oat topping, mix the oats with the sugar, flour and salt and then add in butter. Toss to coat all the butter pieces and then working quickly, use your fingers to press the butter into the dry mixture until it has all been incorporated. You should be able to press the mixture together into large clumps when in the palm of your hand. If it is too crumbly and not holding, you can add a little extra butter.  Scatter the topping over the rhubarb and base layers and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until golden and cooked. 

Allow to cool briefly and cut into 9 or 12 squares, depending on how large you want each piece to be.

Find more of Ostro’s recipes by clicking here.