Monday, July 4, 2011

Fun with Rhubarb

I'm having lots of fun with rhubarb this year. Lots and lots. Last year, I felt like I missed out on the deliciousness of rhubarb. But not this year. In fact, there are still 2 thick, pinky-red stalks in my fridge waiting to be turned into something delicious. I've made strawberry rhubarb crisp a couple times. Very simple: just toss strawberries and rhubarb together with a sprinkling of sugar, some lemon juice and zest, and top with this easy vegan crisp topping. A very perfect summer dessert. I've also made these fantastic, moist, healthy rhubarb and walnut bread/muffins. So delicious. The oatmeal and lemon zest topping really make it special.

But, the most interesting thing I made with rhubarb were these orange rhubarb madeleines. There weren't really supposed to be madeleines, and any traditionalist would probably scoff, but I thought it would be fun to bake up some of the batter in a mini madeleine pan that my love bought for me a while ago. Me and madeleines have a very special relationship. In the name of romance, I sought out a madeleine recipe after studying Marcel Proust's À la Recherche du Temps Perdu in 4th year university. I don't remember much about the book (only that his sentences sometimes took a page to finish!), but I do remember the famous reference to madeleines. Apparently, a taste of the lemony, spongy cookie/cake sent him back to his childhood, where he would have madeleines and dip them into his tea. I found that so romantic and beautiful, and even made them as a parting gift to one my favourite profs who was retiring that year. I used a recipe from my old favourite cookie book, and seeing as the madeleine pan I recently purchased wouldn't fit in the toaster oven that I baked in at the time, I used pretty, shell-shaped moulds instead. They were a great hit with my family, and with my prof, who very much appreciated the gesture.

When I moved out, I searched high and low for the pan, to no avail. One day, I came home to the lovely smell of lemon and butter and two brand new madeleine pans. When I had batter left over from this recipe, I thought it would be so cute and fun to make madeleines instead of muffins. The recipe is tweaked from kickpleat's citrus yogurt cake. I used only orange zest and juice, threw in some oatmeal for extra nutrition, and added a good amount of rhubarb compote. The compote really spread the rhubarb around so that each bite was infused with its tangy goodness. It was perfectly matched with the fruity olive oil, and sweet, frangrant orange juice and zest. I think the madeleines were perfect as they were, but if you wanted a little extra, I would throw in a pinch of cardamom to give it a bit of depth and mystery. Can't go wrong with cardamom, can we?

My rhubarb adventures aren't over yet. Maybe it's time for pie .. I'm afraid of pie ... but maybe, just maybe ...?

Rhubarb Orange Madelines
adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches and poppytalk

Rhubarb Orange Compote:
2 stalks of rhubarb, chopped
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup of orange juice

3/4 cup of skim milk yogurt
1/4 cup of orange juice
zest of one large orange
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of rolled oats
1 egg, beaten
1.5 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
a pinch of salt

1. To make the compote, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium until the mixture bubbles. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb breaks down (about 10ish minutes). Set aside

2. In a large bowl, combine the oats with the yogurt and orange juice. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add the zest, oil, egg, sugar and vanilla, and whisk to combine.

3. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and stir gently until just combined. Add the rhubarb compote and mix well.

4. Spoon the batter into a madeleine pan, and pour the rest into muffin tins or a mini loaf pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven. The madeleines or muffins should only take about 10-15 minutes. The mini-loaf should take about 20 minutes.

5. Enjoy with a good book and a cup of tea.


  1. I've never made Madelines before. I don't like the idea of buying a pan that can only be used to make ONE thing! I sure do love rhubarb though!
    And I hope you try to make a pie! You shouldn't be scared!

  2. isn't rhubarb, awesome, ursula! :) i can't get enough of it. thanks for the pie-making encouragement. i should definitely try it this summer.

  3. Wow, I have never seen madeleines like this before. What a delicious and creative recipe. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog and I'd love it if you'd come by and link your madeleines up.

  4. thanks lisa! :) i'll definitely stop by your blog.