Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rhubarb Nut Bread

"The first gatherings of the garden in May of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel
like a mother about her baby - how could anything so beautiful be mine. And this emotion
of wonder filled me for each vegetable as it was gathered every year. There is
nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling,
as gathering the vegetables one has grown."

- Alice B. Toklas

I feel lucky to have a friend who provides me with fresh rhubarb. He grows it because it's one of the few vegetables that comes back every year. He only grows things that are easy. He includes rhubarb as one of them. (I won't tell him I actually have some growing, but my green thumb isn't as good as his, apparently, because mine doesn't grow as well.)

Rhubarb is one of those things I think of when I think of a homegrown vegetable. My husband told me his parents grew it and he would eat it straight up, like eating a stalk of celery. I asked, just to be clear, "you ate it plain? Without dipping it in sugar, even?" "Yup. Straight up." Was his reply. I asked him to take a bite again, today to see if he could still eat it without puckering unbearably. He bit into that rhubarb, and sure enough, he looked at me and said, "what? It's good." He likes tart things. I've never understood that man's palette.

I've always liked to keep a vegetable garden. My first one started when I was living with my father in my late teens. One day I had the idea I wanted to grow some vegetables in his back yard. I grew zucchini, and it worked! I made zucchini. It was quite a thrill. I also planted cantaloupe seeds. My father and I both like the fruit, so I thought it would be a good idea. Well, I was a teenager, remember, so I didn't actually learn how to garden. I just planted some seeds and hoped for the best. Every day I would come home and look at my cantaloupe plant. My dad and I would stare at it, and one of us would say, "no fruit yet?" "No",  said the other.  This went on for days, perhaps weeks. Till one day I came home and looked at that melon plant, and lo and behold, there was a full size cantaloupe! For a split second I thought it had grown overnight. But alas, my father had purchased a cantaloupe at the store and placed it there near the vine. My dad has such an inventive sense of humor. I'll never forget that day. I secretly giggle when I think of it.

Speaking of my father, he's a wonderful gardener himself. Only he grows flowers. He's a photographer, (a really great one), he takes pictures of them. You can see his Flickr page here. Many of his works adorn my walls.

I've been making rhubarb bread quite a bit lately to get it right. This recipe is the sweet result of all the trial and error. I'm serious about my quick breads. I'm known for my Famous Banana Bread, for goodness sake. A quick bread from my kitchen needs to be really moist with lots of flavor. This bread is loaded with flavors of brown sugar, walnuts and rhubarb of course. The sweet, nutty topping is my favorite part.

Rhubarb Nut Bread

makes 2 loaves

Ingredients for bread

1 1/2 cups (265 g.) brown sugar, packed
1 cup (8 oz, 237 ml.) neutral oil (I used light olive oil, but you could use vegetable oil)
2 eggs
1 cup (8 oz.or 227 g.) sour cream or yogurt
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
2 1/2 cups (375 g.) flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 cups (340 g. or about 12 oz.) diced rhubarb- small pieces if you don't want it very tart, chop it in slightly larger pieces if you want the rhubarb to be more prominent

1/2 cup (70 g.) chopped walnuts

Ingredients for topping

1/2 cup (55 g.) brown sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup (70 g.) walnuts- half of them chopped, half of them left in bigger pieces (divided)
3 Tablespoons soft butter


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 4. Grease 2- 8x4 inch loaf pans, set aside.

In  the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, blend together the brown sugar, oil, and eggs. Add the sour cream, (or yogurt) and the vanilla, and mix well again. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and blend well until all is incorporated. Add the rhubarb and nuts and mix well.

Pour batter into the greased pans.

Make the topping. In a medium bowl with a fork, blend the soft butter, brown sugar and the chopped nuts until crumbs form. Divide the mixture between the two loaves. Then sprinkle the larger walnut pieces over the topping.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Amanda said...

That story is hysterical!

I checked out your dad's flickr page, his pictures are fantastic!

The bread looks good too!

Helen said...

Wow, I love rhubarb, the bread looks yummy.

That is a funny story!

How wonderful to have such a talented father.

Michelle L. said...

Ha, your dad is so cool! Give him a cantaloup for Father's Day. this bread sounds amazing, I have never heard of rhubarb bread - great idea!

Anonymous said...

I don't remember that story! What a cool post just before Father's Day! I will call you on my way home tonight.

Pam said...

OMG, I can almost taste this now. BIG pieces of rhubarb for me {G}.

Heidi @ Food Doodles said...

Love that story of your dad :D And your bread looks fantastic. I made a rhubarb bread not too long ago and it was so yummy :) The recipe I used called for walnuts too but I left them out. I'm regretting that now, they look so good on yours :D

Cindy Perloff said...

I'm lucky to be living with the friend that grows the rhubarb. He's so happy to bring the abundant red stalks to Melissa. He admits that his gardening methods are crude! It amazes me how his garden thrives without any fuss!

A couple of those beautiful loaves showed up on our kitchen table yesterday! Melissa is truly delightful. You will often see The Alchemist driving through town with her dog Romeo, delivering thoughtful, loving packages to someone in the community …her alchemy not only transforms ingredients, it transforms the hearts of many!

You are an inspiration, Melissa! Thank you for being YOU!

Miz Helen said...

I just love your post, great story about your Dad. Your Rhubarb Nut Bread looks awesome. I just love the flavor combination of your recipe. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday, have a great week end and come back soon!
Miz Helen

Gil said...

What a great post! I linked over to your site from LJ because I love anything with rhubarb; but alas, I can't do nuts any longer because of my ancient teeth or lack thereof. Maybe I'll try the recipe without the nuts.
Anyway, I hope I'll remember to check out your site from time to time. You write the sort of material that I never tire of reading.

The Alchemist said...

Thanks Everyone! I appreciate it.

Cindy- You're so sweet. :) Thank you.

Gil- I'm so glad you enjoy my blog. You can always subscribe in a reader or by email so you never miss a post.

Cheerful said...

that looks perfectly delicious...and lovely story about your dad! makes me miss my dad, we're thousand miles away and its his birthday tomorrow. anyway, thanks for sharing your recipe! have a great weekend! :)

The Alchemist said...

Cheerful- I'm glad you enjoyed the story, but I am sorry about missing your dad, that must be hard especially on his birthday.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great weekend too!

Sweet Birdie Blue said...

i found you via Sweet as Sugar sweets link up & cant wait to try this one as i LOVE Rhubarb & nutloaf!!

The Back 40 said...

I love rhubarb, and I love tea bread. I can't wait to try this.

Curtains in My Tree said...

Ok I am making some rhubarb bread this week end (if I can find fresh rhubarb)

My grandmother always made rhubarb pie and i loved it. I remember those good ole days when I was a child living in the country

your recipe looks so easy to follow thanks

Beverly {Flamingo Toes} said...

Your bread looks amazing and I love the story you told too. So funny. ;)
Thanks for linking this up to Think Pink Sundays! I featured you today!

Vanessa @ {nifty thrifty things} said...

This looks SO yummy!! You will be featured at my next linky party @ {nifty thrifty sunday}! Come and grab a button if you'd like! :)
Thank you so much for linking up!

Miz Helen said...

Congratulations you are featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. You are welcome to stop by and pick up your Red Plate if you like.
Miz Helen

The Alchemist said...

Beverly @ Flamingo Toes, Miz Helen, and nifty thrifty things,

Thank you so much for featuring me, what an honor! It means alot, thanks!

Sandy said...

I came over from Flamingo Toes. I really enjoyed your story and the bread sound really yummy. I am going to try it. Thank you :)

Mindy said...

I'm pinning this recipe - it sounds amazing! I make a rhubarb coffee cake that is the best rhubarb dessert I've ever eaten in my life. You can check out the recipe here:
I'm stopping in from Nifty Thrifty Things and look forward to poking around the rest of your blog.

Mindy said...

I made this last night. AMAZING. Seriously, so good. I'm doing a post about it and putting a link to your blog and this recipe.

The Alchemist said...

Mindy- I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know!

Laura Beth said...

I wish you had a recipe book, I'd buy about 4 in an instant and keep 2 for myself :) I've loved all of the recipes on your blog that I have tried, including this one. Thank you SO much for sharing these.