Wednesday, June 7, 2017

She Bakes- Rhubarb Mini Muffins

Rhubarb recipes are continuing from my little kitchen, as we're venturing into baking territory. If you ever spend any time looking through old church cookbooks, you probably noticed there are a LOT of people who used to cook with rhubarb. Like I have said before, back a generation ago it seems like every backyard in Iowa had a rhubarb patch and everyone's mom or grandmother had an arsenal of delicious rhubarb recipes. I just can't get enough of this stuff!

I know I could buy it at the store or the farmers market, but jeez, enough people still have it in their yards and so many people think they don't like it or don't know what to do with it that I can usually get a decent sized score from friends for free, and this year is no exception. My good friends Paul and Jennifer offered some freebie rhubarb and I've been playing around with it the last few days. I've been trying to be better at bringing food from home to work for breakfast and lunch instead of spending too much in the cafeteria all the time, and what better way to ration it out than to make muffins? Mini muffins? Even better (plus I couldn't find my regular size muffin pan so......).

As a baker, I can whip up a batch of basic plain old muffin batter with ease, but rhubarb is a bit of a challenge. It's heavily loaded with water so baking with it can be a bit tricky. If you overbake it, the rhubarb can break down and become soggy. Using it in pies, which have a long bake time, you definitely need a thickening agent like cornstarch or flour tossed with that fruit to make it saucy and delicious. You also have to think about the size of the cuts- the smaller they are, the less time they need to cook through. If you cut it too large, it won't cook enough during baking. Mini muffins presented quite a challenge! One way I altered my recipe was to use sour cream instead of the cup of milk I would normally use- it moistens the batter with just the right amount of "wet" so the muffins don't end up soggy from the fruit, and the diced rhubarb is just the perfect size to cook through during the baking without becoming mush. You can finish your muffins with a drizzle of glaze made from powdered sugar, or a quick roll in some cinnamon sugar. They are so delicious!

Cinnamon Rhubarb Mini Muffins

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups finely diced rhubarb (1/4 inch dice)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Cooking spray

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and spices in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Add the sour cream, melted butter and vanilla. Combine well.

Add the rhubarb to the dry ingredients and toss to coat the rhubarb. Add the wet ingredients all at once and mix, folding gently, until just combined. Don't over mix. Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Spray your mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Use a small scoop to evenly add the batter to the pan. Sprinkle each muffin with the cinnamon sugar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. 

Four mini muffins in a zip top bag make a great on-the-go breakfast for busy work days, or tucked in a lunch box for a mid day snack. The rhubarb keeps the muffins moist and remind me of something my mother would have made wen I was growing up. I think I should seriously start my own rhubarb patch right in my own backyard.

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