Is there anything more wonderful than rhubarb? Bright and brilliant rosy red. Tart and sweet. The glossier and crisper the stalks, the more intense the colour and the sweeter the fruit. When in season I buy bunches by the armful and make rhubarb compote. Delicious spooned through Greek yoghurt and perhaps muesli for breakfast. Or as an accompaniment to a rich chocolate cake for dessert.
To my mind rhubarb is synonymous with crumbles in the colder months. Partnering beautifully with apples, strawberries or pears. Blanketed with a rich, velvety smooth custard. Perhaps some ice cream on the side. Today I’m making Rhubarb and Apple muffins. Moist, sweet and delicious. But first I’m gently poaching the stalks in the oven so they are tender and soft. And most importantly retain their shape. What could be more perfect? The flavours of a crumble in a breakfast muffin.
Rhubarb and Apple Buttermilk Muffins.
For the Oven Poached Rhubarb
4 -5 stalks rhubarb,washed and trimmed
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
PREHEAT oven to 180 C.
RINSE the rhubarb and shake off the excess water. Trim the ends and cut the rhubarb into 3 cm lengths.
PLACE into a shallow oven-proof dish. Sprinkle over castor sugar and vanilla.,Toss together to combine and arrange the rhubarb into a single layer.
COVER with foil and roast for 15 mins. Remove the foil. The sugar should have dissolved, so give everything a little shake and roast for another 5 mins or until tender and the juices are syrupy. Test with a sharp knife; the rhubarb should feel tender, not mushy, and still have kept its shape.
For the Muffins
150 g unsalted butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 large granny smith apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
oven poached rhubarb, as per recipe above
icing sugar, to dust
PREHEAT oven to 180C, non fan-forced
LINE a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
BEAT butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
STIR in the flour and buttermilk and mix until smooth. Add vanilla and grated apple. Stir through until just combined.
SPOON batter into the muffin cases.
SCATTER the tops of the muffins with oven poached rhubarb, lightly pressing the lengths into the batter.
BAKE for 20 -25 minutes, middle rack position, until cooked and golden.
ALLOW to cool for 20 minutes before serving. Dust with a little icing sugar.