I must admit, this tweet amused more than it should have.
I am a Twitter newbie. In other words, I follow hundreds of other people on the social media app, but rarely post anything myself.
Mostly I follow Hawkeye sports and other bakers to see if I can get some new ideas for this column. I never expected that it would be Matt Baume that would inspire my writing, however.
Baume is a pop culture blogger who focuses on 1970s and ’80s television. That’s definitely in my wheelhouse, and so I started following him a few months ago.
Over the weekend, Baume posted a very not pop 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 grewbarb.”
I know it’s corny, but I laughed. He was so proud.
A few hours later, he posted another photo, this time of what looked to be a rhubarb cobbler. Again, I smiled, and immediately liked his post.
I think that part of what I found amusing was his enthusiasm for something I find to be completely ordinary. When I was a kid, rhubarb grew like a weed around my small town. Every yard had at least one patch.
One summer, we even used a giant rhubarb leaf for first base in our backyard baseball games. That is, until my mother pointed out that the neighbor whose patch had contributed the leaf may have been less than pleased.
My point is that I don’t get that excited about rhubarb, even though I know that lots of people around the world love the stuff. Rhubarb pies and jams and crisps are everywhere this time of year as people fall all over themselves to find uses for the crimson stalks.
And so I thought, why not? Why not join the fun and produce another column complete with new suggestions for something known in cooking slang as “the pie plant?”
Below you will find the results of my efforts. I’ve tried to stick with things that are simple and, yet, beyond pie.
That way if you, like Baume, “grew a rhubarb,” you, too, can celebrate.
Oven Rhubarb Jam
This incredibly simple recipe is adapted from one that ran in Saveur magazine. It has very few ingredients and even fewer steps to follow. Really, you just chop the rhubarb, mix it with some sugar and orange zest, and stick it in the oven for 80 minutes. Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, but not much.
The one caution here is that you cannot can this jam. It will last in your refrigerator for about a week. You also can freeze it. That said, the recipe only produces about 2 cups, so you probably will eat most of it before it hits the freezer.
- 2½ pounds rhubarb, washed, trimmed and chopped
- 1¾ cups sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 (2-inch pieces) orange peel
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- 1½ teaspoons lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Stir together the rhubarb, sugar, salt and orange peel in a 9×13-inch pan. Place in the preheated oven, and let it cook for about 80 minutes, stopping to stir it every 20 minutes or so. The juices should be thickened, and the rhubarb almost completely broken down.
If you like a chunky jam, stir in the remaining ingredients and allow to cool. If you’re like me and you prefer a smooth jam, fish out the orange peel and place the mixture — plus the additional ingredients — in your food processor and give it a few pulses. Then let it cool.
See notes about storage above.
Oma’s Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Every year I ask the other Michael what he wants me to make for his May birthday, and every year he asks for something with rhubarb. This cake was his request this year. It was incredibly easy to throw together. Plus, he really liked it.
It is, however, more of a coffee cake than a straight dessert cake. That said, it’s perfect for a snack or for breakfast.
The recipe comes from the website Allrecipes.
For the cake:
- 2 cups flour
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 cups diced rhubarb
For the streusel:
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch pan. Set aside.
Stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs and sour cream, and mix until combined. Finally, fold in the rhubarb.
Scrape mixture into your prepared pan. Then prepare the streusel.
Stir together all of the streusel ingredients (you can do this in a food processor or by hand). The mixture should be crumbly. Sprinkle streusel evenly across the top of the cake. Bake for about 45 minutes.
Technically, this isn’t a torte, but it is a delicious dessert. It’s also my brother-in-law, Nolan’s, favorite.
My mother directs baking this in a 9×9-inch square pan, but when I went to find mine, it was gone. Thus, I used a springform pan like you might use for a cheesecake. It worked beautifully. Just make sure you give it plenty of time (at least two hours) to set before you remove the outer pan. This gives the filling time to thicken enough so that it can stand on its own.
For the crust:
- 1 cup flour
- A dash of salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup butter, chilled
For the filling:
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ⅓ cup milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 cups rhubarb, cut up into small pieces
For the meringue topping:
- 3 egg whites
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Grease a 9×9-inch square pan. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
To make the crust, blend the flour, salt, sugar and butter until crumbly (as if you were making a pie crust). Pour into your prepared pan. Press into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
To make the filling, raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Combine the sugar, flour, milk, egg yolks and rhubarb in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat. Cook until thick and the rhubarb is quite tender. Pour over the baked crust. Top with the meringue.
To make the meringue, in a medium mixing bowl combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.
Spread meringue over the top of the dessert. The meringue should be strong enough to hold decorative peaks.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the meringue tips are starting to brown.
Let cool completely before serving.