To Have or Not to Have, That is the Question – Rhubarb Loaf

Rhubarb LoafThere are two kinds of people in this world. There are people who have rhubarb plants and don’t know what to do with their bounty, and those who don’t and end up squabbling the last few limp stalks left at the greengrocer’s during the all-too-brief season.

Growing up, I was the first kind of people… my sister and I would grab a stalk or two of fresh rhubarb from the patch in the backyard and cluster around the sugar bowl, taking turns dipping our rhubarb into the bowl and gnawing on the sugary ends.

These days, though, I pretty much have to beg, borrow or steal to get my hands on rhubarb once the season rolls around (all two weeks of it, that is). At $2.50 for a small parcel of stalks, this is hardly a treat to be squandered in front of the sugar bowl. Nay, this is a rare delicacy, gentle reader, to be gazed upon in awe and treated with the reverence it deserves. Sometimes it is paired with strawberries to make a delicate fruit crisp, but my favourite option is to let it play the starring role in a moist, crumbly loaf laced with ample amounts of ground ginger, a natural complement to rhubarb’s tang.

After many years of living in the land of have-nots, though, I’m ready to make the transition back to the realm of the haves. The perfect spot in the backyard has been designated as a future rhubarb patch… by this time next year, I’ll be happily ensconced in front of the sugar bowl once more with a fresh stalk of rhubarb to gnaw on.

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Rhubarb Loaf

2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 cups diced rhubarb
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups flour
3 tbsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, cream together brown sugar and butter. Add egg and beat until smooth.
Stir in vanilla and milk.
Zest and juice the lemon. Stir the zest into the wet ingredients, and set aside the lemon juice (it will be used to make a glaze for the finished loaf).
Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the rhubarb and nuts.
Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Stir together the reserved lemon juice and 1/4 cup brown sugar in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour over the loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Cool on a wire or wooden rack and wrap for storage.

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