Sometimes a vintage recipe is the best. In this case, a sweet loaf made with real ingredients like butter, sugar, flour and eggs is a perfect balance for tart rhubarb. You may not know this but rhubarb is actually a vegetable. And, there are a number of varieties grown locally so you may find green or red stalks or a mixture of both. Green stalks don’t mean they aren’t ripe and there’s no difference in the sweetness of either colour so go ahead and use whatever kind you want to make Rhubarb Loaf.
I have to tell you a funny story. I’d made this loaf a few times but I hadn’t written down the recipe so my friend Deb sent a picture from her recipe book by text. It mixed up and cooked just like before but when I sliced it there was this funny smell. Not funny ha ha, funny strange. Sort of like when your Brie is past its expiry date and has a funky gassy odour. When I tasted it I thought I’d used way too much salt. So I checked the recipe and discovered I used baking SODA instead of baking POWDER. In my defence, I was reading the entire recipe on my tiny phone. It happens. So I threw it out and made another one.Jump to Recipe
But, like all mistakes, I learned something. The prep steps in this particular recipe were a bit odd. The directions said to mix the butter with orange juice. Huh? Butter and orange juice don’t mix. If you don’t believe me, try it. So I used the traditional method of creaming the butter with sugar, then adding the orange juice and eggs before adding the dry ingredients and it worked out just fine. And, I didn’t have orange juice splashed all over my kitchen like I did before when beating and beating didn’t accomplish anything.
How much rhubarb can you use in a loaf?
You can actually sneak a little more than 1 cup of rhubarb into this loaf if you like. Not too much more. Otherwise the loaf may never completely cook through. The red coloured stalks look a bit nicer than green but it all tastes the same going down!
The recipe calls for orange juice and grated orange rind. Make sure you don’t grate any deeper than the orange skin. The inside of the skin, where it turns white is very bitter. Once you’ve grated the rind, squeeze as much juice as you can out of the orange. It probably won’t be enough for 1/2 cup but just add regular orange juice to make up the difference. And don’t be afraid to get some pulp in there!
The rind is added to the dry mixture for a reason. The flour will sort of coat the pieces of grated rind so they separate and get mixed evenly in the batter instead of sticking together in a clump. The bits of rind add a nice flavour pop and an interesting texture but don’t sweat it if you skip that step and just use regular OJ.
Stand mixers make baking easy
If you’ve got a stand mixer, this loaf takes no time to mix up. The batter is quite stiff so you have to spoon it into the loaf pan and spread it evenly to the edges. Parchment paper is a great way to line the pan and then you can easily lift it out once it’s cooled slightly. If you don’t have any you can spread a light coating of butter on the inside of the pan, then dust with flour, shaking the pan to ensure it coats evenly, then dump any remaining loose flour.
Sweet breads like Rhubarb Loaf take quite a while to bake. The recipe says 1 hour but you may need a little longer. Use a clean toothpick to insert deep into the middle of the loaf, if it comes out with batter on it, bake it another 5 or 10 minutes, testing every few minutes.
Zucchini Blueberry Loaf is another summer loaf you might like that also takes at least an hour to bake.
It’s tempting to slice the loaf soon after coming out of the oven but it tends to fall apart easily if you don’t wait long enough.
Here’s a link to another rhubarb recipe, Rhubarb Custard Pie which is like a combination of rhubarb pie and a giant butter tart!
Here’s the recipe for Rhubarb Loaf:
- 2 cups rhubarb, finely diced
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 ½ tsp baking powder NOT baking soda
- 1 tsp grated orange rind
- ⅓ cup butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Finely dice tender stalks of rhubarb. Add 1/4 cup sugar and stir to combine. Let sit while preparing other ingredients.
- Combine flour, salt, baking powder and orange rind. Stir to ensure orange rind is separated and covered well with dry ingredients.
- Allow butter to come to room temperature. Cream butter and sugar together in stand mixer until smooth. Add egg, then orange juice and vanilla.
- Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and beat on low speed until combined.
- Add rhubarb mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
- Spoon into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in centre of oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Check with toothpick to ensure no batter remains. If necessary, bake another 5 or 10 minutes.
- Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
- Serve with butter if desired.