Every spring, when local rhubarb hits the market, I dig out this recipe, make a few improvements and have a delicious quick bread that is moist, tasty and tangy on the inside and slightly crusty and crinkly on the outside. While the idea of rhubarb quick bread had its origins for me in a vintage1976 Gourmet magazine, I’ve sufficiently manipulated it to call it my own.
There are two versions of this recipe that I like: one flavored with orange zest, and the other with cinnamon and walnuts. Half-inch cubes of beautifully colored rhubarb are suspended in a moist cake. Topped with a crust of sugar and a little butter, this makes a delicious dessert or, if you’re so inclined, a cake to serve with tea.
Quick bread, like pound cake, can be made in several sizes of pans, each of which require different cooking times. A pan 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ inches (or around that dimension) cooks for about an hour. Two 7 ½ x 3 ½ x 2 ¼ inch pans cook in about 40 minutes. I often cook with an eight-up loaf pan (basically a double muffin), which bakes quick bread in 20-25 minutes.
Rhubarb Quick Bread
1½ c sifted all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
¾ c light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp – 1 tbsp grated orange rind
½ c buttermilk, room temperature
1 ½ – 2 c rhubarb diced into ½-inch pieces (about ½ lb)
A little flour for dusting
¼ c granulated sugar
1 tsp soft butter
1 tsp grated orange rind
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare two 7 ½ x 3 ½ x 2 ¼ inch loaf pans by greasing and flouring them or, to be on the safe side, lining the bottom and long side with a piece of parchment paper.
Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside. Lightly beat the egg, add brown sugar, oil, vanilla and orange rind and stir until well combined. Add the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour (divide flour in three parts and buttermilk in two).
Toss the rhubarb in a little flour and add to the batter. Spoon into prepared pans, smoothing to top.
Make the sugar crust by combining sugar, butter and orange zest. Crumble it on top of the batter in the pans. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean (knowing that it could pierce rhubarb or batter). Cool for about 15 minutes and remove from pan to finish cooling.
Alternate: Omit the orange zest. Add ½ tsp ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients and ½ c chopped walnuts to the batter when adding the rhubarb.