Growing up in New England, a rhubarb plant or two was always a mainstay in every garden we had. With toxic leaves and acidic bitter stems one might wonder why anyone would even want to eat this vegetable. (And yes, most people consider it to be a vegetable even though it is most often served in dishes like a fruit). The answer, is because it is so versatile–it is perfect in pies, tarts, muffins, and sauces; it can accompany sweet or savory dishes; and frankly because when cooked with a bit of sweetener, it is just plain good. As a cooler weather vegetable, rhubarb was all but impossible to find in the markets of Mediterranean Albania and I missed it. Each spring I would crave pies and muffins and wonder where I could find myself a few stalks.
Much to my delight, rhubarb is popping up in all of the local markets here in Belgium. Like asparagus and strawberries, once they begin to appear I know spring is really here. So what was the first recipe I made with my initial rhubarb stalks? Classic strawberry rhubarb muffins. The recipe is an adaptation of one from Boston’s Flour Bakery. You may use fresh or frozen rhubarb but be sure to only use fresh ripe strawberries. The recipe makes a dozen generous sized muffins; fill the muffins cups to the rim but do not overfill them. If necessary use a second muffin tin or other small oven proof baking dish for the remaining batter.
STRAWBERRY RHUBARB MUFFINS
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 cup Greek yogurt, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
1 cup fresh or frozen chopped rhubarb
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Alternatively line the cups with muffin papers. Set aside.
- Using a wire whisk and a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until creamy. Slowly whisk in the sugar, melted butter, yogurt, and vanilla extract.
- Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and fold until just combined. Do not over mix.
- Gently fold in the strawberries and rhubarb. The batter will be thick and a bit lumpy.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling the cups to the top but not over filling them.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown on the top and spring back when pressed with a finger.
- Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool in their pans for 20 minutes before serving.
The muffins are best when eaten immediately but can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Yields: 12 muffins