Once in a while, my under-informed forays into baking turn out marvelously. A friend recently gave me a small collection of vintage Jello molds. I misunderstood their purpose and thought that they were baking molds. Determined to make them work in that context, I baked these lovely little Rhubarb Breakfast Cakes in them. It was a gamble. Would they release from the molds? Would they rise to ridiculous heights, rendering the purpose of the mold useless? There was only one way to find out.
I love rhubarb, but I’ve never worked with it in a context where its tartness is allowed to shine, and it really shines here. The interplay of sweet and tart flavors is invigorating — a refreshing detour from an all-sweet treat. The orange zest lends a fragrant depth, and if you really want to get fancy, the Meyer lemon glaze is a lovely finishing touch. Without the molds and the glaze, these are essentially a template for a muffin — an awesome, sweet-tart muffin.
Gluten-Free Rhubarb Almond Breakfast Cakes
Yield: About 12 muffins
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup oat flour
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup sliced almonds, more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (or use 1/4 cup Greek yogurt + 1/4 cup milk of choice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup diced rhubarb
Zest of one orange
Meyer lemon glaze:
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
Note: If you do not need the breakfast cakes to be gluten-free, you can substitute 2 cups all-purpose flour for the oat and brown rice flours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, almonds, baking powder and soda, spices and sea salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and the buttermilk with the olive oil. Add the diced rhubarb and orange zest and stir thoroughly.
Slowly fold the wet ingredients into the dry.
If you’re using any kind of shaped mold, you’ll want to be really thorough in greasing and flouring them. I used room temperature butter and worked it in with my fingers. Follow this with a careful dusting of flour. Fill the molds or muffin tins about 3/4 of the way.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Check with a toothpick for doneness — insert in center of muffin, and if it comes out clean, they’re ready. Set aside to cool for ten minutes.
While the cakes cool, prepare the glaze. Slowly drizzle the lemon juice into the confectioner’s sugar and whisk thoroughly with a fork.
If the cakes have risen over the edge of the mold, slice off the excess with a sharp paring knife. Invert them onto a work surface. Drizzle the glaze over each if desired.
All photos by Kimberley Hasselbrink.
Kimberley Hasselbrink is a food photographer and blogger based in San Francisco. She is the author of the blog The Year in Food, which is framed around a monthly seasonal food guide. Kimberley enjoys unusual produce, strong coffee, road trips and summer nights.