When I’m old and cranky and wear house shoes and smell a bit like mothballs, I hope that if I can’t muster the strength to bake anything else, I still bake these muffins. They are delicious, and versatile enough to withstand the test of time.
To be completely honest with you, I hadn’t eaten rhubarb before until about a year ago, when Elliott’s wonderful grandmother, Marlyn, made a rhubarb pie. Even then, as good as the crust of the pie looked, the red celery-like chunks of rhubarb made me think it would taste just like that — a pie with celery chunks. But I decided to be brave (and polite) and gave it a go, and the last thing I remember after that was that only a quarter of the pie was left standing in the pie tin. I am now rhubarb enlightened, and I do not regret it.
Being that rhubarb is in season, and being that I had some leftover buttermilk from a previous recipe and a good ol’ hankering for fruit muffins, I used my knowledge of first grade math and put two and two together, which equals rhubarb muffins. Really, this recipe could work for any fruit — blueberries, strawberries, bananas, oranges, heck, even kiwi, if you want to get adventurous (I’m not sure how this would turn out, but if you want to try it and let me know, be my guest). But with the sweet, tart taste of rhubarb, along with the crunchy, gooey brown sugar topping, I’d say any other fruit would have to pick a fight with rhubarb if it thinks it would taste better.
I doubt it.
Debrief: If you want to make these more of a breakfast muffin rather than a dessert muffin, I’d suggest omitting the brown sugar topping. The muffins lose about a third of their calories and fat, and still taste just delightful. You can also split the 2 cups of chopped fruit between rhubarb and something else, like strawberries. Yum. Be-bop-a-rhubarb, a-rhubarb-pie.
Yields 15-18 muffins
2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups chopped rhubarb
For the topping (optional):
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, combine sugar with oil. Add egg, buttermilk and vanilla, and stir ingredients together well. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients along with chopped rhubarb. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins about 3/4 full (or almost all the way like I did). Mix together ingredients for the topping, and sprinkle over each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from tins.
Extra punches: This batter can also be used to make two rhubarb loaves instead of muffins. Just divide the batter between two greased 8×4-inch loaf pans and bake them for 40-45 minutes.