Rhubarb Streusel Muffins

Each year, when the landscape starts to show signs of spring, I look forward to rootin' around in the dirt, searching for tiny shoots of rhubarb that are just emerging from the ground...my life is complete at that moment because I know it's just a matter of time before I am marching back to my kitchen, arms loaded with tender young stalks of rhubarb, ready to transform these treasures into tart, juicy pies, crisps and puddings, spicy chutneys and of course, these crunchy topped muffins! Have you noticed that each season seems to revolve around my gut?!

To make these little "streusel jewels", you will need (for the muffin batter...streusel ingredients list to follow) : all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, vegetable oil, brown sugar, one egg, buttermilk and the "star of the show", fresh or frozen rhubarb.

Before lining your muffin tins, try this neat little trick that I learned the other day...you know that oil slick that soaks through the paper liners, leaving a little pool of grease in your tins when you bake muffins with oil or butter?! Well, this nifty idea, eliminates that mess just by lining your tins with plain white rice (not instant)!

Place a paper liner in each cup that has a layer of rice in it...when the muffin bakes, the rice seems to absorb the oil and...

...Shazam!! The bottoms come out dry...well, more dry than without the rice...but still "Shazam" worthy! This to me, is a miracle...maybe I am a little off balance, but it drove me nuts to have greasy muffin or cupcake papers!

Okay, now that I have my culinary "issues" out of the way, I will continue on with more important things such as rhubarb muffins...Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, then sprinkle rice (if you are using the above trick) into 16 muffin cups and line with paper liners. Next, pour 2-1/2 cups of all purpose flour into a medium bowl...

...then add 1 tsp. of baking soda, 1 tsp. of baking powder and a 1/2 tsp. of salt...mix together with a fork until combined.

In a separate large bowl, combine a 1/2 cup of vegetable oil,

...1 cup of cold buttermilk,

...1-1/4 cups of light brown sugar (packed),

...and 1 egg. Whisk with a fork until combined.

Next, slice about 4-5 stalks of rhubarb (depending on the size) to make 1-1/2 cups (frozen rhubarb may also be used...do not thaw if using frozen)...set aside.

Dump the dry ingredients into the buttermilk mixture...

...and stir with a fork just until the flour is mixed in...the batter will be lumpy but that's okay...it's better to not over mix the batter, unless you need some matching door stops or paper weights?

Next, fold the rhubarb into the batter.

Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, fill the muffin cups almost to the top...set aside while you make the streusel topping.

To make the crumble topping, you will need: granulated sugar, all purpose flour, cold butter, cinnamon and a pastry blender or two knifes to cut the butter into the flour mixture.

In a small bowl, combine a 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp's. of all purpose flour, 3/4 cup of granulated sugar and 2-1/2 tsps. of ground cinnamon...

...mix together to evenly incorporate the sugar and cinnamon into the flour.

Next, cut in a 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp's. of cold butter, using a pastry blender or two knives,

...until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Spoon streusel topping evenly over muffin batter...I warn you that the crumbs will be everywhere, which makes one use language that should never be used in or near a church!!

Bake in a preheated, 375 degree for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean (oven temperatures may vary). Remove pans from the oven and place on wire cooling racks for about 5 minutes...next remove the muffins from the tins and brush the rice from the bottom of the paper liners....put muffins on the wire racks to cool.

See how the streusel topping sets up on these muffins...worth every swear word!!

Delicious with a cup of tea or with a wedge of cheese and some fruit for a nice spring lunch...enjoy!

Rhubarb Streusel Muffins

Batter

2-1/2 cups of all purpose flour

1 tsp. of baking powder

1 tsp. of baking soda

1/2 tsp.of salt

1-1/4 cups of light brown sugar (packed)

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1 egg

1 cup of cold buttermilk

1-1/2 cups of sliced rhubarb, fresh or frozen (if using frozen, do not thaw first)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 16 muffin cups with a layer of plain white (not instant) rice (if using the "rice trick") and paper muffin liners.

2. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients, stir with a fork to combine and set aside.

3. In a larger, separate bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, brown sugar and egg...stir in your dry ingredients just until the flour is mixed in (your batter will be lumpy...do not over mix).

4. Slice about 4-5 stalks of rhubarb to make 1-1/2 cups and fold into your batter. Using a large spoon or an ice cream scoop, fill previously lined muffin cups to almost full. Set aside while you prepare the streusel topping.

Streusel Topping

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp's of all purpose flour

2-1/2 tsp's of ground cinnamon

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp's of cold butter (salted or unsalted)

1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon, stir with a fork until the sugar and cinnamon are evenly incorporated into the flour...using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. Spoon mixture evenly over top of muffin batter and bake in your preheated 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (oven temperatures may vary).

3. Remove from oven and place on wire cooling racks for about 5 minutes...next remove muffins from tins and brush rice from bottom of paper liners...place muffins on wire racks to cool.

* makes about 16 large or 18 medium muffins.

* Click here to see where I read about lining muffins tins with rice