Supersoft brown sugar muffins with tall, crunchy, bakery-like domes, dotted with bits of vanilla poached rhubarb and sweet strawberry.
Ingredients for Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
Rhubarb: Either poached, as directed, or diced small straight from the fridge (or garden!). I like to chop it quite small, smaller than a penny. Frozen rhubarb is fine too, just be sure it doesn’t have too much ice stuck to it.
Strawberries: Fresh or frozen, but diced as well.
Brown sugar: Light or dark should be fine. Pack it into the cup if using cups for measuring!
All-purpose flour: If using cups, shake the flour over the measuring cup and level it with a butter-knife to ensure you aren’t over measuring.
Butter: Softened but not melty, this way it will beat nicely with the sugar. Ensure it’s unsalted and if it’s salted, halve the amount of salt in the recipe.
Eggs: Best to use them at room temperature, you can always pop them in a bowl of warm water right before making the batter.
Cinnamon: Use the higher amount if you like an unmistakable taste of warm cinnamon. This could also be left out if you don’t like it at all and replaced with something like cardamom.
Buttermilk: Buttermilk’s creaminess, tanginess and exact level of acidity is perfect for this recipe. You can substitute with kefir if you like (plain, vanilla or even strawberry) or use a thinned out yogurt (70% yogurt, 30% water, more if it’s greek).
Why and How to Poach Rhubarb for Muffins
This isn’t a necessary step, but I personally prefer it as it makes the rhubarb softer. If you are the kind of person who likes your apple pie crunchy from not-overly-soft apples, then you might not need to take this step. But, in addition to softening the touch vegetable, this will also get some lovely vanilla flavor in there.
To poach you’ll make a simple syrup, then cook the rhubarb in the syrup for just a couple of minutes. Then you’ll let it set, the stalks absorb the liquid as the mix cools. You can make this a day or two ahead of time. When it’s time to add the rhubarb to the muffin batter, remove them from the liquid and dice them.
The remaining liquid is a rhubarb simple syrup, you can use it in drinks – like this one!
How to get big domed rhubarb muffins
To get those, you need the right recipe (we got that!); one built to have enough flour to hold structure but not too much the muffins will be dry.
Then, there are two steps I take with all my muffin recipes to get that perfect rise and bakery-style dome:
- Chill the batter/let it rest. For at least two hours in the fridge. Overnight is fine too!
- Bake them in alternating muffin cups – this allows the heat to circulate the muffins better and they’ll rise higher.
Can I halve this recipe for a small batch of rhubarb muffins?
Yup! Straight down the middle, all of the ingredients will halve nicely.
Can I make the poached rhubarb ahead of time?
Yup, store it in a container in the fridge with the liquid.
What can I use instead of rhubarb or strawberries?
Anything really, this is a solid brown sugar muffin base and raspberries, strawberries and blueberries will work nicely here.
Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
For the poached rhubarb:
- 100 g or 2 stalks rhubarb halved or sliced into thirds
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
For the muffins
- ½ cup butter unsalted and softened, 113g
- 1 cup brown sugar 200g
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsps baking powder
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 1-2 tsps ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour 270g
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk or kefir 155g
- 100 g strawberries diced
- Turbinado sugar for the tops
- Set the water, brown sugar and vanilla bean in a pot. Cook until it begins to boil and the sugar is dissolved, then lower to a simmer. Add the rhubarb and keep the heat on for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Make the muffin batter:
- In a bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the baking soda, powder, salt and cinnamon and beat to combine.
- Add the flour and with the mixer on, slowly pour in the buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
- Bake the muffins:
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line two muffin pans with muffin liners, alternating the liners placement - you’ll have six liners in each pan.
- Dice the rhubarb into small chunks and add it and the strawberries to the batter. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold them in.
- Scoop the muffin batter into the pan, each muffin cup will be nearly full with batter. Sprinkle ½ tablespoon of turbinado sugar on top.
- Bake for 25 minutes.