I must admit that this tweet amused more than it should have.
I am a beginner on Twitter. In other words, I follow hundreds of other people on the social media app, but I rarely post anything myself.
Most of the time I follow Hawkeye sports and other bakers to see if I can come up with new ideas for this section. However, I didn’t expect Matt Baume to inspire my writing.
Baume is a pop culture blogger who focuses on 1970s and 1980s television. It’s definitely in my wheelhouse, so I started following him a few months ago.
Over the weekend, Baume posted a very unpop culture tweet that made me smile. It was just a photo of him holding a rhubarb leaf in front of his face.
“I grew a rhubarb,” he explained. “A growing beard.”
I know it’s corny, but I laughed. He was so proud.
A few hours later, he posted another photo, this time of what appeared to be a rhubarb cobbler. Again, I smiled and immediately liked his post.
I think part of what I found amusing was his enthusiasm for something that I find completely ordinary. When I was a kid, rhubarb grew like a weed around my little town. Each meter had at least one patch.
One summer, we even used a giant rhubarb leaf as first base in our backyard baseball games. That is, until my mom pointed out that the neighbor whose patch had contributed to the sheet might not be happy.
What I mean is that I’m not that enthusiastic about rhubarb, even though I know a lot of people around the world like it. Rhubarb pies, jams and crisps are everywhere this time of year as people fall over themselves to find uses for Crimson Stalks.
And so I thought to myself, why not? Why not have fun and produce another full column with new suggestions for something known in culinary slang as “the pie factory?”
Below are the results of my efforts. I tried to keep it simple and yet beyond pie.
That way, if, like Baume, you’ve “grown a rhubarb,” you, too, can celebrate.
Baked rhubarb jam
This incredibly simple recipe is adapted from the one published in Saveur magazine. It has very few ingredients and even fewer steps to follow. Really, just chop the rhubarb, toss it with sugar and orange zest, and put it in the oven for 80 minutes. Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but not that much.
The only caveat here is that you cannot store this jam. It will last about a week in your fridge. You can also freeze it. That said, the recipe only makes about 2 cups, so you’ll probably eat most of it before it hits the freezer.
- 2½ pounds rhubarb, washed, trimmed and chopped
- 1¾ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 (2-inch pieces) orange zest
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- 1½ teaspoons lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Combine rhubarb, sugar, salt and orange zest in a 9 x 13 inch saucepan. Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 80 minutes, stopping to stir every 20 minutes or so. The juices should be thickened and the rhubarb almost completely broken down.
If you like a thick jam, stir in the rest of the ingredients and let cool. If you’re like me and prefer a creamy jam, remove the orange zest and place the mixture – plus the additional ingredients – in your food processor and pulse it a few times. Then leave to cool.
See storage notes above.
Oma Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Every year I ask the other Michael what he wants me to do for his May birthday, and every year he asks for something with rhubarb. This cake was her request this year. It was incredibly easy to put together. Besides, he really liked it.
It is, however, more of a coffee cake than just a dessert cake. That said, it’s perfect for a snack or for breakfast.
The recipe comes from the Allrecipes website.
For the cake:
- 2 cups flour
- 1¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 cups diced rhubarb
For the streusel:
- 1 cup of sugar
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Put aside.
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in eggs and sour cream and mix until combined. Finally, add the rhubarb.
Scrape the mixture into your prepared pan. Then prepare the streusel.
Combine all streusel ingredients (you can do this in a food processor or by hand). The mixture should be crumbly. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the cake. Bake for about 45 minutes.
Technically it’s not a pie, but it is a delicious dessert. It’s also my brother-in-law’s favorite, Nolan.
My mom directs the baking in a 9×9 square pan, but when I went to get mine it was missing. So, I used a springform pan like you might use for a cheesecake. It worked beautifully. Just be sure to give it plenty of time (at least two hours) to harden before removing the outer pan. This gives the filling time to thicken enough for it to stand on its own.
For the dough:
- 1 cup flour
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- ½ cup butter, cooled
For the filling:
- 1¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- ⅓ cup of milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 cups rhubarb, cut into small pieces
For the meringue topping:
- 3 egg whites
- 3 teaspoons of sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Grease a 9 x 9 inch square pan. Put aside.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
To make the crust, combine the flour, salt, sugar and butter until crumbly (as if you were making a pie crust). Pour into your prepared pan. Press into prepared pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.
To make the filling, increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, flour, milk, egg yolks and rhubarb in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until thickened and the rhubarb is quite tender. Pour over baked crust. Garnish with meringue.
To make the meringue, in a medium bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar. Beat over high heat until stiff peaks form.
Spread the meringue on top of the dessert. The meringue should be strong enough to hold decorative picks.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the meringue tips begin to brown.
Let cool completely before serving.