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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rhubarb Rave Recovery





What a weekend! I have spent most of today recovering from a pancake date, a birthday party [there will be a blog about that cake soon], and the Fray concert. Trudged myself to work this morning after two hours of sleep, and gave into my caffeine addiction by getting a latte.

But somehow, it's still all worth it.

Don't trip chocolate chip; I'm still getting in my iron. Think a basket of blueberries while sitting on the lawn at the concert, and iron-enriched flour for pancakes. I'm still being healthy!

Now, the time has come for rhubarb. This is the first summer that I've ever cooked with it. It always seemed like one of those weird, what-the-hell-do-I-do-with-this vegetable, but after finding out about its iron benefits, it's go-time!

One the most common ways to bake with rhubarb is pie. I'm all for pie, but I'm also all for muffins, so I simply adapted a recipe I found from Epicurious and plopped the batter into muffin tins. What I ended up with were cute little rhubarb pies that actually resembled more of biscuits because of the batter, and they were so fluffy! I sprinkled the tops with sugar to offset the sourness of the rhubarb, although once it bakes it is not as intense, but I liked the the contrasting flavours.

Remember: when choosing rhubarb, look for stalks that are deep pink-red and are shiny. Those are the freshest ones.

Ideas for next time: Buttermilk, some sort of whipped topping?

Rhubarb Biscuit Bakes

  • 1 lb fresh rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces [3 cups]
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. sanding sugar [like turbinado]
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs (1 separated)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan and chill.

Toss rhubarb with brown sugar in a bowl until coated.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl until combined well. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk together milk, whole egg, and yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add milk mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon to gradually incorporate flour and form a dough. Don't worry; the dough WILL be sticky!

Use half of the dough and pat out over bottom and halfway up the sides of the muffin tins. Make sure your hands are well-floured so the dough doesn't stick to you. Spoon rhubarb with its juices onto dough. Using a tablespoon or a small ice-cream scoop, spoon remaining dough in small mounds evenly over top. Lightly beat egg white with a few drops of water, then lightly brush cake with egg wash. Sprinkle the tops with the sanding sugar.

Bake muffins until the tops are golden and rhubarb is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, about 30 minutes.

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