Sunday, 29 March 2015

All a Load of Rhubarb!

Piccole Tortine di Fiocchi d'Avena, Rabarbaro & Mirtilli Americani
Oatmeal Cupcakes with Rhubarb & Cranberries


It was Sunday morning, it was breakfast time, we had been robbed of an hours sleep in order to make way for Spring/Summertime... and... it was cold, rainy and dark outside! Aaargh!

There was absolutely no other choice than to make something bright and cheery to fake a little sunshine! After all- I had already started planning it the night before...

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb! People go on about it- they either love it or hate it- but with it's amazingly striking pink stalks, when walking through the market hall- it is pretty hard to ignore it!

The thing that troubles most of the people who do like the flavor- is how to prepare it, so that it doesn't disintegrate into a stringy, pulpy mess... and this is the way I do it- If you care to scroll on...


To make these 8 little breakfast cakes, which were basically just baked oatmeal, I needed just 4-5 stalks of rhubarb (and I had plenty of compote left over!) 1 cupful of flour, 1 cupful of oatmeal, 1 egg, 1 handful of dried cranberries, 1 cupful of water, the juice of half a lime, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, a little vanilla (I used the pod but essence is fine), 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 4 tablespoons of honey (or to taste).

The results are chewy little oatmeal cakes with that tang of rhubarb and cranberry and the aroma of cinnamon and vanilla... nothing really exciting- but plenty exciting enough to start the day healthily and with a smile!


This is the way I like to prepare rhubarb- and I always do it the night before.

Turn on the oven to the highest setting to get nice and hot before you start on the rhubarb. Begin by carefully peeling away the tough, sinewy, but very fine skin from the rhubarb. It almost breaks my heart to do so- but it is pretty indigestible and so it has to go!

Usually people over-compensate with adding strawberries or raspberries to rhubarb dishes for the sole reason of keeping them pink- but I found these few cranberries were sufficient and they were in there to add sweetness and flavor, primarily, anyway.

Put the peeled rhubarb, cut into sections of around 1.5" into a baking dish of some sort and add the cranberries, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of honey, the vanilla and just enough water to cover the base, then stir it through and pop it into the hot oven for 30 minutes.

After that, turn off the oven and go to bed. The end.

The residual heat will finish baking the rhubarb, but being as it has not been touched or stirred, each piece remains intact- simple really!


Come morning, you will be rewarded with a lovely, super-tender compote of rhubarb and berries- with an incredible tasting syrup... word!


So now you can turn on your oven again, to 180°C to get warm for baking- and begin stirring your batter together.

Into one bowl goes 1 cup each of flour and oatmeal, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a tiny pinch of salt.

Into a smaller bowl goes 1 egg yolk, the juice of half a lime, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of honey- stir these together until they are well mixed.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir together well- add enough water, little by little, until the mixture has a thick but smooth consistency- about 1 cupful.

And finally, fold in the egg white, which you will have hopefully have beaten until fluffy and light. Oops- forgot to mention that earlier! Haha!

Fold the egg white in until the mixture is perfectly smooth and go grab that cup-cake tray and some papers!


In retrospect, I could have filled mine a little fuller than half way- I guess I was being too over optimistic and expecting them to rise more- silly me! I almost forgot that I have no idea how to bake!

I added 3 pieces of rhubarb and just a few cranberries on top of the batter, again, to make sure the rhubarb remains intact, but also insure that it doesn't all just sink to the bottom.

Then, into the oven they went, on the middle shelf, for 25-30 minutes at 180°C. And in the meantime... tidy up!

Well- that and spooning up the remaining rhubarb compote... mmm!

And after 30 minutes in the oven... as well as the house smelling wonderful- here they are! Simple, healthy little cakes of oatmeal, with added rhubarb and cranberry... good enough for me- I think maybe good enough for you too?

If you think you would like them sweeter- feel free to add more honey or even sugar- but I prefer mine this way- just enough sweet and sour fruitiness to make the oatmeal come to life... and enough to help me come alive this morning too!

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