Making Up for Lost Time

April 2, 2008

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Okay, enough with all of the tarts. But if you’ll indulge me a homonym, this quick bread has a undeniable tartness too, thanks to one of its co-stars: rhubarb. With rhubarb, I have a shameful confession. I’m a real Johnny-(Joanie?)-Come-Lately to this vegetable. While I consider the brilliant red stalks nothing short of drop-dead gorgeous these days, I have vivid childhood memories of seeing the stuff on my grandparents’ kitchen counter, yanked straight from their garden, and making up my mind that I would not—under any circumstances—eat any dish containing such an exotic component. Pies? Huh-uh. Bars? No, siree. Crisps? Get real, lady.

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If I could only go back in time. But since Doc Brown-style Deloreans haven’t exactly caught on, I have some lost time for which I really, really need to make up. In the past couple years, I’ve stuck to ordering restaurant or bakery offerings that involved my newfound friend, the rhubarb. But this year, it’s time to get serious. So, when I saw the ruby limbs nestled next to the leeks at our produce market on Sunday, I gathered up an armload and started to brainstorm the possibilities.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Most weeks, I bake a loaf of banana bread on Sunday, thick slabs of which Kevin dutifully eats for breakfast all week long and razor thin slices of which I shave off pretty much every time I pass through the kitchen. But this Sunday, with our siren-red stalks lounging on the counter, I decided to depart from tradition. Goodbye same ol’ banana bread, hello rhubarb bread!

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I also had a good amount of chopped crystallized ginger leftover from last week’s ginger ice cream. In a perfect world, I was hoping to google “rhubarb crystallized ginger bread” and have a recipe pop up, straight from a reputable source and bolstered by rave reviews from bakers past. Welllll, that didn’t happen. In fact, I came up entirely empty-handed.

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Not to be deterred, I decided to create a recipe of my own based on the best parts of the many rhubarb bread (sans ginger) recipes I saw online. But I healthed it up where I could, added ground ginger to the bread and created a streusel concoction, prominently featuring the leftover crystallized ginger. And, if I might just toot my own horn here, it is so good. The bread is very moist. And it’s faint sweetness plays perfectly against the bursts of tartness from the rhubarb nuggets and the zings of spice from the crystallized ginger morsels. I think I’ve done the rhubarb I used to malign proud.

Ginger-Rhubarb Bread with Crystallized Ginger Streusel

For the Bread:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup rhubarb, chopped

For the Streusel:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a large loaf pan and set it aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix 3/4 cup brown sugar, the egg white, vanilla and vegetable oil until combined. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, sift or whisk 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, the whole-wheat flour, salt, cinnamon and ginger together. With the mixer running on low speed, alternately add the buttermilk and dry ingredients in several additions, starting and ending with the buttermilk.

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the rhubarb. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining flour and brown sugar for the streusel. Add the remaining streusel ingredients using, rubbing them into the flour and sugar with your finger tips until the mixture becomes pebbly-looking. Sprinkle the streusel on top of the batter in the prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour, or until the bread is puffed, the streusel is golden and a tester inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.


3 Responses to “Making Up for Lost Time”

  1. amanda Says:

    You are absolutely right, rhubarb is quite the looker. i have yet to see a fresh crop in my area but once they do I hope to play around with it as well. I was one of those kids who never understood why people would bake with rhubarb but I get it now🙂

  2. diva Says:

    i adore rhubarb and love having all sorts of puds and yoghurt with rhubarb in it. it’s just too pretty to resist. thanks for sharing this post. ginger and rhubarb sound so good x

  3. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    Amanda: I’m glad I’m not the only newcomer to rhubarb. Here’s hoping it turns up in your markets soon!

    Diva: The ginger-rhubarb combination was definitely a winner. Now I can’t wait to find more ways to use it …


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