Rhubarb Muffins

The Recipe: Simple whole-grain muffins studded with soft, sour pockets of a late-spring treat, rhubarb. Rhubarb Muffins are barely sweet and oh-so-tender and definitely – definitely! – not cupcakes. For all who prefer a less-sweet, less-rich but ever-so-satisfying morning-bread treat, this is your recipe!

The Conversation: Victory! I harvested rhubarb from my very own rhubarb patch!

Rhubarb Muffins ♥ KitchenParade.com, less sweet, all whole-wheat, moist and fruity.

People! Did you hear crazy cheers of joy from the back yard this week?!! Did you see the CNN cameras? Did you see the headlines at Fine Cooking, Saveur and Gourmet? Did you watch the heavens part and world peace descend?

Because I finally harvested my very own rhubarb – yep, those crisp, bright-red stalks of late-spring sourness – from my very own rhubarb patch in my very own garden. I harvested my own rhubarb! [insert squeals of glee]

It's been a long, long time coming – a lo-o-o-n-g time, we're talking years, here.

Interstate-transport, a cross-town move and transplant shock all contributed to the delay. My mom's rhubarb, our dear Auntie Meryl's rhubarb, even local rhubarb, none of it thrived in Missouri's hot, dry summers.

Three years ago, it looked as if all was lost. Someone – I'm not sayin' who except that he now goes by no-longer-around – sprayed my rhubarb with Round-Up. That was the saddest-maddest day ever. Granted, the rhubarb leaves were small and looked a lot like the wild burdock that grows with weedy-abandon in the wooded areas nearby. But still! What was he thinking?! That was my rhubarb!

Despite the setback, I held out hope. After all, for years my own father tried to kill my mom's back-step rhubarb, one spray after another. He was unsuccessful! Even on the north side of the house, with little sun, a plant or two survive.

Still, extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary action.

I erected fences for protection. I put up flags to call attention. And I warned anyone who dared come near, "Stay back! That's my rhubarb!"

Those momma-rhubarb protector instincts paid off! A few weeks ago, tiny leaves poked their curly fronds out of the ground. Now they are giant leaves and the stalks are bright red and totally sweet.

So yeah, people. I harvested my own rhubarb.

And then I made muffins. And for the first time this year, we ate breakfast on the patio. It was a perfect day.

ALANNA's TIPS My favorite muffin recipes are the ones that for twelve muffins, combine a half stick of butter (versus the whole stick in many richer recipes that produce cupcake-like muffins) and call for an "acidic" dairy like buttermilk, sour cream or Greek yogurt. No whole-wheat pastry flour? Use a 50:50 blend of all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour. All all-purpose works too but you do lose some of the appealing nutty color and taste. Rhubarb Muffins feel "naked" without a sugary coating on top, just an extra tablespoon. I love the look and texture of raw sugar, a less-processed sugar, but again, regular granulated sugar is fine too. I recommend Penzey's Cake Spice (and its newer Baking Spice) all the time – and have for at least fifteen years, maybe longer. Any time that cinnamon is called for, Cake Spice and Baking Spice add a noticeably brighter taste. People always ask, "What's that spice?"

RHUBARB MUFFINS

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
Makes 12 regular-size muffins
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces/57g) salted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup (168g) buttermilk or low-fat sour cream or low-fat or non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup (150g) brown sugar
  • 1-2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 207g
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or my favorite spice blend, Penzey's Cake Spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 to 3 cups (200-300g) diced rhubarb
    CINNAMON-SUGAR TOPPING
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 350F/180C. Spray the cups of a standard-size muffin pan with baking spray.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter in microwave in ten-second increments until melted. Whisk in the buttermilk, this will cool the butter down so not to cook the egg. Whisk in the egg and vanilla.

In a second bowl, smash the brown sugar with the back of a spoon to remove any lumps of tiny clumps. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg until completely combined. Stir in the rhubarb, this coats the pieces with flour so they won't sink to the bottom of the muffins. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the center of the well, use a spatula to gently combine the wet and dry mixtures. You don't want to overmix, just stir until combined, otherwise the baked muffins will have small tunnels (they don't affect the taste, just the appearance).

With two spoons, one to scoop and one to scrape, or a large cookie scoop, fill the muffin trays.

In a small bowl, stir together raw sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, use a spoon to sprinkle over the muffin tops.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until tops are crisp and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then use a slim fork or knife or something similar to help gently lift the muffins out of the muffin tins.

Rhubarb Muffins are best warm from the oven but stay fresh and special for at least two days. Longer than that? No idea because they don't last that long!

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Muffin: 118 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 28mg Cholesterol; 239mg Sodium; 18g Carb; 1g Fiber; 14g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 2.5 & WW Points Plus 3.
My recipe for Rhubarb Muffins has evolved over several years with lots of tweaking and simplifying.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

Rhubarb from My Own Rhubarb Patch!


Rhubarb from my own rhubarb patch, recipes ♥ KitchenParade.com.

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Congrats! I grew up in the Midwest but now live in Georgia, too hot for rhubarb and I miss it.
 
Thank you for the Rhubarb Muffin Recipe. I can't wait to try it. Growing up my Great Aunt had a Rhubarb patch in her backyard and we would eat it raw like candy! Over the past 55 or 60 years haven't had much Rhubarb but look forward to having it again and trying many of your recipes!
 
Anonymous ~ Thank you! I missed rhubarb too, we ate piles of it growing up. My patch isn’t exactly producing “piles” yet but enough for now!

Mike ~ You’re welcome! Thanks for the kind words, I hope you find much that’s equally pleasing in my collection of recipes.
 
Oh, they do look lovely, I am going to look for rhubarb.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna