Thursday, February 28, 2008
Rosy red rhubarb
I think of rhubarb as a grown-up treat. Although mum grew rhubarb at home, I never really enjoyed it as child. I found the tart taste too sharp for my palate and was frightened by the knowledge that the leaves were poisonous (although we never ate the leaves, it was one of those pieces of information that tends to lodge in a child's mind).
Now, however, I adore rhubarb and cannot resist buying a bunch when I see it for sale at a market (provided that it's in season and looks healthy). My palate now enjoys the sharp-edged sweetness of rhubarb that I disliked as a child. I love its ruby-red colour and the way something that looks like red celery can be cooked down with sugar into a meltingly soft puree to stir through custards for a pretty dessert or mixed with natural yoghurt and muesli for a delicious, healthy start to the day. Soft rhubarb topped with a rich, nutty crumble is a favourite winter dessert.
After buying a bunch of rhubarb at the Slow Food Farmers' Market, a rhubarb crumble was the first recipe on my list. But that only used half the bunch, so I turned my attention to other recipes. Most was used for a sweet compote to eat with yoghurt for breakfast but I used some of the compote to top spicy, buttery baby cakes in a recipe that I found on the Gourmet Traveller website. These simple cakes have a gingery taste that is beautifully offset by the little jewels of rhubarb puree dotted on the top. Although I made these cakes in the mini loaf tins as specified, I think these would also work well in muffin tins. This recipe is definitely going into the "make again" file.
BABY SPICE AND RHUBARB BUTTER CAKES
225g soft unsalted butter
3/4 cup golden syrup
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2 stalks of rhubarb, thinly sliced
55g caster sugar
For rhubarb compote, combine rhubarb, sugar and 1 Tb of water in a saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 2 minutes or until softened, then cook, uncovered for eight minutes or until liquid has reduced and rhubarb is soft. Cool.
Cream butter and golden syrup until pale, then add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition, until mixed in.
Sift over flour, baking powder and spices and stir to combine, then spoon into nine lightly greased 2/3-cup capacity mini loaf pans and spoon 2 tsp rhubarb down centre. Bake at 180 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until just cooked. Allow to cool slightly, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool.
Recipe from Gourmet Traveller website