Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rhubarb Almond Streusel Muffins, and the little pie that couldn't...




"Can you do something with rhubarb?  I've been craving rhubarb."  Jamie's request came as I was telling him some of the things I wanted to bake this summer to see what he thought.

"Really?  Who craves rhubarb?" I replied, and then immediately felt bad.  I didn't grow up eating rhubarb, so I tend to forget when it's in season, and it doesn't usually occur to me to bake with it.  But his parents grow rhubarb in their garden, and every year his mom makes rhubarb pies.  We ate one last summer, and it reminded me of apple pie, but much more tart.

I tasted rhubarb for the first time last summer, at his parents' home.  His dad cut off a stalk from their garden, cut it into pieces, and placed it on the table with a bowl of sugar.  Chunks of raw rhubarb, dipped in sugar, is definitely a tart, but unique snack.  After they sent us home with a few stalks, I wasn't sure what to do with it, so I just cooked it down into an applesauce-like puree, along with some cherries, and baked it into a rhubarb cherry loaf bread.

And then I forgot all about that tart vegetable that's pretending to be a fruit, until Jamie brought it up a few weeks ago.

I aim to please, (and I felt oh-so-bad for shooting down his suggestion) so it became my mission to come up with some rhubarb treats for him, something a little more rhubarby than just a loaf bread, even though that bread was really good.




The first thing I wanted to make was a pie, with the filling a mixture of rhubarb and blueberries, and a pretty lattice top.  So should it be called Rhuberry Pie, Bluebarb Pie, or just Rhubarb Blueberry Pie?  The filling tasted wonderful, the perfect combination of tartness and sweetness with a hint of cinnamon, and the crust was buttery and flaky.

But for some odd reason, the filling didn't thicken like it should have, in spite of the cornstarch, and the juice ran everywhere.  So I won't be sharing that recipe today, although when I test it again with a different technique, I will definitely update this post when the filling thickens successfully.  It sure was pretty and yummy, though.  It tasted so amazing with a scoop of the Strawberry Frozen Custard I made with fresh strawberries.




Then, I baked Rhubarb Almond Streusel Muffins, flavored with a little almond extract, orange zest and juice, and topped with an almond streusel.  After the muffins had cooled slightly, I poked a hole in the center of each with the back of a spoon and filled the centers with some warm strawberry jam.

The jam was a quick version of strawberry jam, sort of a cross between strawberry jam and strawberry sauce, to which I did not add pectin.  Chunky and sweet, with orange and cinnamon, it was a nice complement to the muffins.

Hopefully Jamie isn't tired of muffins yet, because I have so many more recipes just waiting their turn...






Rhubarb Almond Streusel Muffins with quick Strawberry Jam
printable recipe


muffin batter:
  • 1 cup diced rhubarb
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
streusel topping:
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the rhubarb, brown sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, almond extract and yogurt until well combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined.

Fill the muffin cups with the batter; they will be full, almost to the top.  In a small bowl, combine all the streusel ingredients, using your fingers or a fork to mash the butter into the dry ingredients until moist and crumbly.  Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter and gently press it into the batter.

Bake muffins for 18-22 minutes, until the topping is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Yields 12-14 muffins.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen




Strawberry Jam with Orange and Cinnamon
  • 2 cups chopped strawberries
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, orange zest and juice, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to medium low.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until thickened;  mash the berries a little with the back of a wooden spoon, but keep the mixture chunky.  Stir in the vanilla.  Set aside to cool before serving.

Yields about 1 1/2 cups of jam.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen