It was a slow start to spring in our little corner of the world. As the last of the rhubarb patch goes to seed, I thought I’d take one more bite with these tasty Rhubarb Muffins.
This is the meeting of sweet and tart, finished with a sprinkle of nutmeg sugar and golden brown, they’re a late spring favourite. In my days and an innkeeper at Nova Soctia’s Dragonfly Inn I perfected the recipe you see below, using only the small, ripest stalks of rhubarb, no bigger than my finger; but any ripe rhubarb will do.
A couple of notes on this recipe before you get started: This recipe calls for ‘cooking oil’, ours is a canola free kitchen. I find it hard to digest, so the only canola in our kitchen is is the form of non-stick spray. I use safflower or corn oil interchangeably in my baking when not using butter. Safflower is light and slightly fragrant, it fits well in most light, fruit based recipes, so we’ve used it here. Corn oil lends a heavier taste and texture so I will use it when baking loafs, quick breads and vegetable based baking like chocolate zucchini cake.
Also needed: buttermilk. I love cooking with buttermilk, it gives a richer flavour base to so many timeless recipes, but it’s not always in the fridge. In a pinch you can pull an old Grandmother trick and simply ‘sour’ your milk using vinegar. When measuring the necessary amount pour just shy of the fill line (about two tablespoons short on a one cup measurement) then add two tablespoons of white vinegar and let milk stand for two to three minutes until sour and curdling. This will substitute well in most baking, but not for things like a buttermilk marinade for poultry, it’s too strong in acid and affects the meat differently that real buttermilk. So stick to baking and pancakes with this one.
Easy Rhubarb Muffins, ready in less than 40 minutes. Take advantage of the last spring rhubarb and enjoy these sweet-tart muffins.
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 – 2 cups rhubarb, diced
1/2 cup pecans, lightly chopped
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coarse raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400°F (220°C). Prepare muffin pan, spray with non-stick spray or line with cupcake/muffin paper cups. (I use a silicone muffin pan, so muffins lift out easily and cleanly with no extra steps needed. Good investment.)
In a large bowl add brown sugar, oil, eggs & vanilla and beat lightly with a wooden spoon or spatula until creamy. Then add buttermilk, rhubarb and pecans and fold to mix well.
Add flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt to the rhubarb mixture and fold until JUST mixed and fully wet. Measure into waiting prepared muffin pan, filling each three-quarters full, to leave room for the raise of the batter in baking. Mix raw and/or coarse sugar and nutmeg in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly on top of batter before baking. This gives each muffin and light, sugar-sparkly finish and a nice crisp top.
Bake in pre-heated 400°F (220°C) oven for 22 – 25 minutes or until tops are golden brown and tester inserted in the middle removes clean and dry.
Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.