Thanks to Minnesota’s never-ending winter, rhubarb made late appearance at farmers markets throughout the region this year. But finally, the blushing red stalks are plentiful, and so are baked goods featuring the fruit, which is often paired with strawberries to temper rhubarb’s tartness. Regardless if you’re a rhubarb novice or long-time aficionado, there’s one place you should head to taste the delicious proof that strawberries and rhubarb belong together: Yum! Kitchen and Bakery in St. Louis Park.
Yum! first made a believer out of this rhubarb doubter a couple of years ago with its sublime strawberry rhubarb bar, but in 2013, the bakery is firmly establishing its rhubarb supremacy with its strawberry rhubarb mini pie ($5.95). If the adorable, tiny tin doesn’t persuade you to purchase a pie, then one look at the crumbly crust and thick, oat-laden crumble topping certainly will.
That crumble alone is reason enough to pick up a pie. Buttery and laced with nuts, it’s laid on so thick that you almost need a chisel to break through to the fruit, but it is appropriately tender in the center and crispy on top.
Once your fork plunges into the depths of the pie, though, you’re rewarded with a mixture of plump strawberries and soft — but not mushy — chunks of rhubarb, expertly balanced to avoid the common sin of cloying sweetness. It’s obvious that there’s a gentle hand with the sugar in Yum!’s back kitchen, and the pie benefits from such restraint.
Yum!’s bakery counter also is featuring a strawberry rhubarb scone ($2.95), but it pales in comparison to its flavor sibling. Perhaps we’re spoiled by Butter Bakery Cafe’s rich, tender scones, but this version failed to live up to scone nirvana. The chunks of fruit were few and far between, leaving mostly bites of bland dough that lacked the sweetness and light crumb of Butter’s beloved treats.
So skip the scones and pick up a pie — or two, or six. Despite a good intention to share, you’ll find it hard to put down your fork once you start going to town on a strawberry rhubarb mini pie. And you may find yourself headed back to Yum! the next day to get your fix again. After all, rhubarb season comes but once a year. It’s OK to indulge.
Yum! Kitchen and Bakery, 4000 Minnetonka Blvd, St Louis Park MN 55416; 952.922.4000