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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Rhubarb – A Tart Taste Not Easily Forgotten

By Sherrie Norris

Rhubarb is among the fruits of spring that begin to show up about this time every year. Technically a vegetable, rhubarb is especially good when combined with strawberries, my springtime favorite.  

Rhubarb is easily recognized by its rosy red and green tinged stalks with green leaves. Once you get a bite of its distinct tart flavor, you will never forget it. 

When buying rhubarb, look for crisp and firm stalks that have a nice bright color and are free from blemishes and cuts. The leaves, if still attached, should appear fresh and not wilted. 

Rhubarb can be refrigerated in a plastic bag for a few days before using — stalks become mushy if stored too long. 

Make sure to cut out tough and stringy fibers and brown spots before using.

Rhubarb Breakfast Cake

½  cup half and half, cream, or buttermilk

1 tsp. lemon juice

½  cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tsp for sprinkling

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour, saving out 1 Tbsp. to toss with rhubarb

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter a 9×9-inch square baking pan. 

Stir lemon juice into the half and half and set aside.

Cream the soft butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

Add the 1 Tbsp. of the flour to the rhubarb and toss well.

Whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add half of the flour mixture to bowl and blend in. Add all of the half and half, and blend in. Add remaining flour and mix just until combined; don’t over mix. Fold in rhubarb. (The batter will be thick.)

Spread batter into prepared pan; sprinkle a little sugar evenly over the top. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until top is golden and a toothpick in the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it 

Let cool slightly before cutting.

Nutty Rhubarb Muffins 

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk, plus 2 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

¾ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup rhubarb, chopped

½ cup nuts, chopped 


¼ brown sugar, packed

¼ nuts, chopped

½ tsp. cinnamon

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla; mix well with a fork. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

Add egg mixture, rhubarb and nuts.

Stir until just combined.

Spoon batter into 12 regular or 9 large greased muffin cups.

Sprinkle mixed topping ingredients over muffin batter.

Bake at 375° F for 20 minutes or until done.

Easy Rhubarb Cake

1 yellow cake mix

1 cup water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

4 cups fresh rhubarb, chopped

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups whipping cream

Whipped cream, ice cream or yogurt for garnishing (optional)

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, water, oil and eggs at low speed until moistened. Beat for 2 minutes at highest speed.

Pour into greased and floured 9″ x 13″ baking dish. 

Sprinkle rhubarb over the mixture and top with sugar. 

Pour cream over the top. Bake at 350° F for 1¼ to 1½ hours or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm or cold with whipped cream, ice cream or yogurt, if desired. Store in refrigerator.

Serves 8 – 12.

Rhubarb Cookies

1 cup sugar

½ cup butter

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 cup chopped rhubarb

2 cups flour

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup raisins

1 cup nuts

Mix sugar, butter and eggs well. Add rhubarb. Add next six dry ingredients; stir in raisins and nuts. Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.