Happy belated Mother’s Day!
I recognize that originially, Mother’s Day was a promotion by card and candy companies interested in boosting sales, but I am hopelessly romantic when it comes to anything having to do with my children, so it is one of my favorite days of the year. In spite of the fact that it makes me sneeze and puts me at grave risk for Lyme Disease and poison ivy, I hike and plant, and mow, and adore all things May.
Of course, May and Mother’s Day both make me think of my own mom, whose 81st birthday is next week. Mom is a huge fan of lilacs. And, she adores rhubarb. Since I was small, she has always had a rhubarb plant, and celebrates spring by baking a strawberry-rhubarb pie.
Last week, Bob and I drove through pouring rain to begin the process of cleaning out my parents’ New Jersey house. They have made the move to Florida full-time for health reasons and the lake house is for sale. We walked around back, and I saw the rhubarb. Knife in hand, I ventured out into the torrent to collect a handful of red/green stems, discarding the big, poisonous leaves.
I wanted to make something that would showcase the beautiful stalks. I didn’t want to sweeten it too much, and I forgot to buy strawberries. Some research turned up a recipe on the wonderful King Arthur Flour site for a quick bread. As always, I made a couple tweaks for both taste and health.
Mary and Barbara joined me for the baking, and I dropped off a hunk for them the next day. Bob and I are working on the rest. The bread is moist, lightly sweet, with a pleasant sour bite from the rhubarb. The nuggets of pecan add a delightful crunch. It is perfect warm or toasted with a schmear of cream cheese.
Rhubarb Pecan Snack Bread
2 ½ cups sliced rhubarb, plus one stalk for garnish
1 cup organic all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs, room temp
1 cup organic cane sugar, divided
sprinkle freshly grated nutmeg
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup walnut or vegetable oil, plus a bit extra for greasing the pan
Extra sugar for decoratiing (opt)
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
Cook the sliced rhubarb in a dry pan until it breaks down, about 5 minutes. Add ½ cup of the sugar and mix well. Let cool. Cut the remaining stalk into strips or small half moons to garnish the top of the bread.
Mix the flours, remaining half cup sugar, salt, baking soda, lemon zest, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Mix the eggs, oil and rhubarb mixture in a medium bowl.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix gently until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Now use the reserved raw rhubarb to make a pretty pattern on top of the bread. Sprinkle with extra sugar if you like.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, until firm. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes, turn out and cool to room temp before slicing.