It’s a good idea to pick a load of your homegrown rhubarb before about July, and to let it grow for the rest of the summer. That way the plant will be storing enough energy, ready for overwintering and vigorous growth in the spring – see below, those lovely bright stalks from the start of the year… I haven’t had a rhubarb forcing pot before as the plant always seems to do really well anyway in my clay soil – but I’ve got my eye on one for next season, just to see what a difference it makes. This year I split a very old and woody crown of rhubarb and moved a section to a different part of the garden, where it’s really taken off, with leaves not being bothered much by slugs and snails (at last!).
This is my own recipe for rhubarb muffins, and they are the easiest thing in the world to make, especially using cup measurements. I just use a Whittards teacup, which I’ve checked is exactly 1/2 pint liquid capacity – so whatever you use, as long as you consistently stick with the same-sized vessel as you measure out, you can’t really go wrong. It’s not one of those precise type of recipes anyway, just a bit of guess-timating. I’ve been making this since the children were teeny and I have to say I think the almond extract makes all the difference – I ran out the other week and tried it with vanilla, but they just weren’t the same. Of course, if you really hate all things almond, maybe try something else complementary – orange zest, or ginger? Either way, they’re beautifully moist little cakes that burst with those little punches of rhubarb pieces.
Rhubarb Muffins – makes 8 large cakes
1 ¼ cup plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup caster sugar
1 ½ cup diced rhubarb (raw)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup milk
¼ cup oil
1 tsp almond extract
demerara sugar for topping
Preheat the oven to 180ºC and fill a muffin tray with 8 paper cases.
In one bowl, mix the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars.
In a second bowl, combine the beaten egg, milk, oil, and almond flavouring.
Pour the egg mixture over the dry ingredients and – very important – stir only just enough to moisten the mixture. (The secret to preventing muffins from being too dense is avoid over-stirring!).
Fold in the raw rhubarb pieces.
Divide the mixture between 8 muffin cases, sprinkle the tops lightly with demerara sugar, and bake at 180ºC for 18-20 minutes.