I am not exaggerating when I tell you that these take less than an hour to make.
I have this amazing CSA program where I live and they grow rhubarb on the farm. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I love rhubarb, so I won't bore you to tears with it this time. I share quite a bit of my garden bounty with my son's daycare so I give them occasional batches of beautiful and fresh garden produce for the children there. They love it because it's nice and natural and they know where it's been grown(in my backyard). I gave them some rhubarb recently but the daycare director gave it back to me a few days later saying I could have it back because she wasn't sure what to do with it.
"But I thought you said your mother cooked with it all the time!" I argued, remembering that she had commented on the rhubarb when I'd brought it days before.
The woman who runs the daycare laughed. "Oh sure, but that doesn't mean that I know what to do with it, least of all how to make it for the babies." She handed me the bag of green-and-red stems, thick and dense like celery.
I kissed my baby on the forehead and said I would see him later. I took my plump rhubarb back and drove home. I suppose I was only slightly surprised; since leaving the culinary industry I've noticed that most of the world that I live in isn't exactly as obsessed with cooking as I am. Still, rhubarb is a wonderful perennial that grows bountifully and easily, and my baby's friends should know it! My baby loves rhubarb, so I need to give all babies the chance to love it as well.
Since I will usually wake up around 6 am, and I drop him off around 8, I decided that I needed something quick. I figured that pancakes are quick and breakfast-y, but if I made pancakes then my baby will go nuts and demand them immediately instead of peacefully getting in the car like always. ((His favorite food is pancakes and he knows when I make them.)) I racked my brain as my espresso brewed when it hit me: Muffins.
A muffin is a lovely vehicle of flavor and is an excellent way to introduce a new fruit or vegetable to a child. You can't have cupcakes for breakfast, of course, but you can have a fruit-filled muffin. To make this, I quickly turned on my oven, set the baby in his high chair with some cut bananas and blueberries, and decided to adapt my own blueberry muffin recipe in order to make some beautiful rhubarb muffins.
Here's how I made them.
Summer Rhubarb Muffins
yields 18 muffins
- 1 c + 3 Tbsp sugar, divided
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 c oil
- 3/4 c yogurt (I used a vegan yogurt for this)
- 3/4 c milk (I use almond milk at home)
- 2 Tbsp butter, coconut oil, or shortening, cold
- 1 Tbsp + 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 c whole wheat flour
- 2 stalks of rhubarb, sliced thinly
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Trim the rhubarb's top and bottoms and chop them crosswise in thin wafers. Add it to a medium-sized bowl and sprinkle 1/4 c of your sugar and the salt over the rhubarb and stir it all to coat. You're going to let it sit while you work on the rest of your mix. The longer you let it sit, the better, so you can start this overnight if you like.
Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and butter/coconut oil/shortening to a large bowl. Cut or rub in the fat with your fingers to the dry ingredients until it is quite small, the consistency of corn meal. Combine the eggs, yogurt, almond milk, and 3/4 c of the sugar in another container (a 4-cup measure is fine) and mix well using chopsticks or a fork. Pour your liquid into the dry stuff and stir gently, only 10 times, just to moisten everything. The next step: Leave it alone for 5 minutes.
After that time has gone up, scrape in the rhubarb mixture and liquid and gently incorporate your fruit and its liquid. Once again, you're going to leave it alone while you prepare your muffin tins. The real trick to muffins is you let the batter rest. The longer you rest your batter, the better your muffin will be. You can actually make the batter for the muffins and portion them into your muffin tins the night before needing them, refrigerating them or even freezing them before you bake. In fact, the colder your batter will be when it goes into the oven, the more height it will achieve once baked. Isn't that neat?
In a standard muffin tin, you can either line the cups with paper liners or simply spray the bejeezus out of it with pan-spray. When you're ready to bake,give your batter a final quick stir to make sure everything is incorporated. Scoop your mixture into the cups of your muffin tin, filling it up about 3/4 of the way up. I used an ice cream scoop/disher because it's quick and consistent. Finally, sprinkle the remaining 3 Tbsp sugar over the tops of all of your muffins. If you want a little extra flavor and texture, add a Tbsp of flour along with 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp turmeric to the sugar and sprinkle it on top, like I've done below.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Cool for 5 before turning out into a rack to cool completely. Yum!
I love this recipe because it's so quick. You can freeze the muffins in advance, or after you've baked them. This has such a unique and wonderful flavor, and muffins are quite easy for babies to eat. My own baby loved the muffins, and the daycare workers were incredibly grateful for the treats! I love having a small private daycare for my baby because it's people from the community instead of some corporate chain. The families at my daycare are so nice to chat with, and I'm glad that we've become friendly.
I hope you've enjoyed these wonderfully easy muffins. If you make them, please reach out to me in the comments below or comment to me on Instagram
. Happy cooking and happy eating!
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