For the love of Rhubarb

 I just want to take a moment to thank the folks who sent me emails about my mother. Your well wishes and kind words are very much appreciated.

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First of all you probably think all I do is bake and drink since that seems to represent the majority of the edible offerings here on the site so far. Sadly I don’t bake as often as one might think but it just so happens that the photos of baked goods and beverages  seem to turn out better after the edits. Secondly, in case you didn’t know this already I’m a real geek when it comes to fresh seasonal produce. In prime season I will practically stalk my favorite farm stand wild with excitement at the thought of what they might have and at any given time I will happily spend my last dollar on a great looking bunch of spinach or asparagus. I also have a soft spot for the underdogs of the produce world. Todays underdog would be that brightly colored red stalk known as Rhubarb, people who consider themselves to be more adventurous in the kitchen will wax poetic about the sight of the rhubarb at the farmers market only to bring it home and predictably pair it up with the always pretty and often flashy strawberry. Most folks appear to be a bit afraid to let Rhubarb shine like the star that she is. Why? Well, rhubarb can appear to be a bit off-putting, her leaves are poisonous to humans and she can be downright bitter in flavor but this mysterious lady really knows how to rise to the occasion when combined with the right accompanying flavors. When I’m working with Rhubarb, I tend to let a little of that tartness have its moment but I always add enough sweetener to make it palatable for less sophisticated palates.

Today we have a Rhubarb bread pudding, this is a basic bread pudding recipe that works with practically any seasonal fruit, blueberries, peaches, strawberries, apricots, pears,  you name it. There is something very warm and inviting about a good bread pudding, when you serve bread pudding I feel like you’re really sharing a little piece of your heart and home. It’s the type of dessert that people linger over with a great cup of coffee or herbal tea. It freezes well and tastes even better the second day.

The first official summer holiday is this weekend, Memorial Day. For those of us that live in tourist driven areas this marks the beginning of the summer season. And no doubt the majority of you will be channeling your paleolithic ancestors by standing over a hot fire charring various forms of protein and vegetables. However, I guarantee you that should you choose to bring this bread pudding to a cook-out over the weekend it might appear to be a little out-of-place but it will be the most enjoyed and talked about dessert of the day.

Rhubarb Bread Pudding

There is nothing low-fat or sugar-free about this recipe, it is pure indulgence. Humble enough in appearance and easy enough to make to be mistaken for a simple week day dessert but rich enough to be reserved for the most special occasions. 

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound day old artisan style bread (5 cups), baguette or Italian bread will also work
  • 3 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup dark brown or muscavado sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon demerra sugar

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Using a pat of butter, butter a 8×8 square baking dish (For a healthier option you can also use cooking spray or coconut oil instead of butter)
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, salt, cardamom, sugar and maple syrup until combined and the mixture is thick and foamy.
  • Add bread and chopped rhubarb to the egg mixture and stir to combine, but be sure not to over mix or else the bread will get too soggy and begin to lose its shape.
  • Pour mixture into the baking dish, sprinkle lemon zest and demerra sugar on top. Bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove bread pudding from oven allow to cool down just a bit and serve with ice cream, frozen yogurt or a drizzle of heavy cream.

 

 

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