Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rhubarb Cherry Loaf Bread

Jamie and I had a great time on our road trip over the weekend - and I'll add that with every road trip, I get better at splitting sunflower seeds with my teeth.  Maybe one of these days I'll be able to work a whole handful at a time, but for now, it's just one seed at a time.  :)

We spent a lot of time with his parents, and his sister and her family, checking out local spots, watching fireworks, and just hanging out relaxing.  We ate BBQ pork, cooked low and slow in his dad's smoker, smoked salmon, grilled salmon, and salmon cooked on a salt block, venison sausage, and lots of rhubarb pie with ice cream.

It's amazing to me that something like rhubarb, being so tart raw and looking so strangely like celery can taste so much like apples when it's sweetened and cooked.  Jamie's parents gave me some freshly cut stalks of rhubarb from their garden to take home, so I was eager to experiment with a few recipes since I've never cooked with rhubarb before.

My thought was to cook a compote out of the rhubarb and some fresh cherries I picked up at a produce truck on the drive back, and then use the rhubarb puree to create a moist and aromatic bread.  I have a fantastic recipe for pumpkin bread which uses pumpkin puree, so with a little tweaking, I revised the recipe to use even more of the rhubarb puree, decreasing the sugar and oil in the recipe to allow for the added liquid. 

The bread baked so beautifully, nicely browned on top with a crust on either end and moist and soft inside, studded with tart cherries and flavorful with rich spices.  Eat it plain, or spread it with some lemon curd or jam.  This would be a wonderful recipe for fall to have with a cup of hot apple cider!

Printable Recipe

Rhubarb Cherry Loaf Bread
  • 2 cups cooked rhubarb puree (recipe below)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup dried cherries
Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Spray two non-stick loaf pans with cooking spray.

Combine the rhubarb puree, sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and water in a large mixing bowl; beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (except the dried cherries).  While mixing on low speed, add the flour mixture a spoonful at a time.  Scrape the sides of the bowl, and stir in the cherries by hand.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.  Bake at 350 for 50-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then invert onto the wire rack.  Turn bread right side up on the wire rack and cover lightly with a clean kitchen towel to cool completely before slicing or wrapping.

Rhubarb Cherry Compote
  • 4 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until fruit is softened and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  You can use the compote just as it is if you like;  what I did was to separate two cups of the rhubarb puree from the whole cherries and remaining rhubarb puree.  I wanted to use the puree in the bread recipe above, and saved the whole cherries with puree for another recipe still to come...

You might also like...
Lemon Curd
Strawberry Apricot Jam
Black Cherry Vanilla Bean Jam

Peanut Butter Cookie Cream Pies

Hey, everyone!  I hope you all had a great July 4th weekend!  We got home late last night from North Dakota after 5 days away, and fortunately I also had today off work to catch up on a few things at home.  I brought home fresh rhubarb from Jamie's parents' garden, so later today, I'll be working on a few rhubarb recipes.

Meanwhile, I've been wanting to write a post about these cookies since our camping trip the weekend before.  Thinking about these cookies is a welcome distraction since, as I'm writing this, I'm eating my usual boring and bland breakfast of unsweetened oatmeal with protein powder.  :(

There's a BIG sugar rush ahead with these cookies from the super sweet white chocolate cream filling.  But a sugar rush is definitely needed after sleeping in a tent all night, right?  :)

I've been making these peanut butter cookies for years, usually making them small enough to be a two-bite cookie, topped with a Hershey's kiss, and they're always a hit.  While I was teaching English in China, I decided to make a treat for my students, and these were my cookies of choice.  Chinese aren't big on baking, so my apartment came equipped with just a small confection oven that would only bake 6 cookies at a time.  When you consider that I had 10 classes ranging from 20-30 students each....  you do the math on how long it took me to make enough cookies for them each to have a couple!  (Like the time I decided to make them each their own decorated boiled egg for Easter--the egg lady down the road looked at me like I was nuts when I came to buy a few dozen eggs every night for a week...)

For the camping trip, I made these cookies a little bigger, and filled them with a thick cream filling--once assembled, they looked remarkably like Oatmeal Cream Pies, even though that wasn't my intention.  But it got me thinking, how good would a Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookie be?

Another time, another camping trip though...

Try these cookies--I KNOW you'll love them.  Think of soft peanut butter cookies filled with white-chocolate cream that's reminiscent of the cream filling in Oreos...  you'll have a hard time eating just one.

Printable Recipe

Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (note that "natural" peanut butter doesn't work as well for baking)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
White Chocolate Cream Filling
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Combine both sugars and the butter in a large mixing bowl; using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat for at least 5 minutes until creamy and fluffy.  Add the peanut butter and beat well.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.  Add the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the flour mixture and milk to the batter, alternating flour and milk until both are added.  Stir just until combined.  Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

Shape the chilled dough into balls with your hands, and place two inches apart on a greased baking sheet (12 small cookies per sheet or 8 large cookies per sheet).  Bake at 375 for 6 1/2 - 7 minutes, just until edges are starting to brown.  Cool for one minute on the baking sheet, then transfer to a sheet of waxed paper on the counter and cool completely.  Cookies will be very soft, and may appear to be slightly undercooked in the center, but trust me, this is how they should be.  They'll finish setting up as they cool, and will remain soft and delicious.

Once the cookies are cool, make your frosting.  Melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler, or in the microwave, stirring often.  Transfer to a mixing bowl, and add the butter.  Begin adding the powdered sugar and milk, alternating 1/4 cup powdered sugar with 1 teaspoon of milk, until you've reached a desired consistency.  I made mine very thick.

Turn over half of the cooled cookies.  Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the frosting onto the bottom of the cookies--it will be too thick to spread, so don't even try.  Place a second cookie on top of the frosting and press down to spread the frosting out to the edges.  Store in airtight Tupperware or ziplock bags to keep fresh--they will stay soft and fresh for days afterwards.