Recipe: cinnamon rhubarb mini loaves
Did you eat vegetables growing up? Did you like them? How about now that you’re (presumably) an adult? I love vegetables and I loved eating them as a kid. Vegetables in my youth were crunchy, bright green, delicious. My mom and grandmother are such brilliant cooks and they always made sure we ate fresh and healthy food. In contrast, it was rather puzzling to stand in the lunch line at school and wonder what the hell that puke green, tasteless mash was on the plate. It was broccoli – and no one was the wiser, but then again we were all like… seven years old.
We eat vegetables and fruits regularly here at urb. I take that for granted until we go on week-long backpacking trips or I have to fast before surgery or medical procedures and then I begin to crave fresh produce and salivate at the sight of… green grass on the side of the trail. I have yet to meet a vegetable or fruit I refuse to eat. Pushing the limits would be durian (I’ve tasted durian fruit paste – very interesting) and bitter melon (my mom makes a terrific bitter melon stir fry which I love, except for the bitter melon – but I eat it because my mom’s cooking rocks).
This may come as a surprise to some, but I’ve never cooked with rhubarb before, until last week. I just remember reading about something rhubarb being poisonous (it’s the leaves, not the stalks) and so I avoided it for many many years and left it to others to slay the red cousin of celery. I’ve tasted rhubarb and strawberry muffins and rhubarb and strawberry pie (my days in Ithaca) and it was always an exercise for me to figure out what the rhubarb tasted like because it was never separate from the strawberries. Kind of like couples who have to do everything together and you really want to hang out with the one but the other is always there? Yeah.
rhubarb is showing up at our markets
Well, I was inspired to take the rhubarb plunge after seeing Aran’s beautiful creation earlier this month. Then I became downright antsy-in-the-pantsy after seeing this pudding and this cake on my favorite goto site for all things dessert and delish. But I had to slow down. Baby steps are good for someone like me sometimes – and sometimes a giant face plant is the way to go. I needed something simple to ease my introduction to rhubarb.
it’s like celery, but red and… fruity
It’s used as a fruit, but it is technically a vegetable. I am just gaga over richly colored produce and red really takes the cake for me. I scoured my resources looking for an easy recipe to use my rhubarb and my Fine Cooking library provided, as it always does.
i love sour cream in batters = moist
I used a recipe for cinnamon-rhubarb muffins as the rhubarb was the showcased fruit with nothing else to impose flavor-confusion for me. I avoid making muffins. [It’s probably because I don’t have decent muffin pans.] I have mini loaf pans and I love to just throw in that extra variable for added uncertainty in a recipe, you know?
mix until just combined
The pink and green colors are little gems in the mix. The batter is on the stiff side, so you’ll have to press it into the form you plan to bake in. I buttered and parchment-papered four mini loaf pans, but wound up using only three (doh! extra unnecessary dishes). For loaf pans, I like to place parchment that runs up the sides for ease of removal. Removal is a big issue for me because I have gutted a lot of otherwise delicious-looking baked goods from all manner of pans with all manner of cussing. Parchment is your friend.
sprinkle cinnamon-sugar topping over the loaves
I’ve read that when baking muffins at high altitudes, you don’t need to reduce the leavening agents as the muffins are small enough that the heat acts quickly before the leavening can take over. Since each loaf pan was approximately 4 times the volume of a muffin tin, I reduced the leavening by half – but you probably don’t need to if you are at or near sea-level.
a crusty, rustic top (crustic?)
The mini loaves smelled heavenly and tasted even better. I am quite taken with the tangy flavor of the rhubarb. It’s not as sweet as a strawberry (which is probably why they are always seen together in public). This muffin/bread is great for mornings, snacks, and even a modest dessert. I think you could definitely add another 1/2 cup of rhubarb to the mix and the bread would not suffer.
again with the strawberries! but the bread is pure rhubarb
Cinnamon-Rhubarb Mini Loaves
from Fine Cooking issue #85
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsps baking powder (1 1/2 tsps at 8500 ft.)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup sour cream
4 oz. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (oops, mine was softened)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, 1/4-inch dice
3 tbsps granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
If using muffins, line the muffin tins with muffin papers or foils. If using mini loaf pans, butter the pans, line with parchment paper, butter the paper. Heat the oven to 400°F and set a rack in the middle of the oven. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together well. In a large bowl, blend together the sour cream, butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Toss in the rhubarb and fold gently to combine. Divide the batter into the muffin tins or the loaf pans and flatten the batter down into the corners. If making muffins, the batter should mound a little at the center. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together for the topping. Sprinkle over the muffins or the loaves. Bake muffins until golden brown (about 18-22 minutes) or until they pass the clean toothpick test. I baked my mini loaves for 36 minutes and used the toothpick test. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for a few minutes. Serve warm. Makes 12 medium muffins or 3 mini loaf pans (about a 3-cup capacity per pan).