It’s hard to believe it snowed yesterday. We woke to the sight of flakes falling outside the bedroom window. I put on my bathrobe and went warily to peek out at the yard. New green shoots and young grass were blanketed under a slop of wet snow. The pink of the apple blossoms looked very, very cold. I found it hard not to be worried about the plants.
As we ate breakfast, the conversation focused on the weather. “Will the daffodils be OK?” Is this the latest snowstorm ever?” “How can the birds stand it?” Frankly, I think we all felt a little grim.
After getting the kids off to school, I realized what I’d do: I would defiantly shake a wooden spoon at this late April storm and bake some rhubarb muffins. So I preheated the oven to 375, grabbed a pair of kitchen shears and marched up to the garden. And you know what? That rhubarb wasn’t a bit phased. It looked bold standing there, it’s broad leaves welcoming the snow. All of a sudden I felt braver, too – better, like spring was going to survive. I quickly cut four rosy stalks of rhubarb and headed back to the kitchen to start baking.
Today there’s nothing but blue sky and fairweather clouds. No evidence of snow remains except for some puddles in the cornfield down the road. Mark Twain famously observed that “If you don’t like the weather in New England just wait five minutes.” I say, “If you don’t like the weather in Vermont, bake some rhubarb crumb muffins.” It works every time – or at least it did yesterday.
Rhubarb Crumb Muffins
Best enjoyed the day they are made, these muffins are cakey, moist and taste like spring. I love the little flecks of pink in them. As one friend commented “It’s hard to remember it’s snowing outside when you take a bite of one of these.” Think outside the muffin tin and make it into a dessert by adding a dollop of vanilla ice cream. The recipe comes from Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook by Kathleen King. It holds a prominent spot on my bookshelf.
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons salted butter
2 cups fresh rhubartb , cut into ¼ inch pieces
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup milk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease twelve 3x 1 ½ inch muffin cups.
To make the crumb topping: Mix the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture forms small crumbs. Set it aside. (This can be made the night before and stored in a Ziplock bag; you can even freeze it).
To Make the Batter: Mix the rhubarb and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat then until they are fluffy, about 1 minute. Slowly mix in half of the flour mixture until it is incorporated, then half of the milk. Mix it and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat. Fold in the rhubarb mixture. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Distribute the crumbs evenly on top of each muffin. Bake them for twenty minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin comes out clean.