Mick Telkamp

Mick Telkamp

Rhubarb Bread.jpg
Grilled cheese made with rhubarb bread is an unexpectedly winning combination.

That Benjamin Franklin was a busy guy. He signed the Declaration of Independence, invented bifocals, published Poor Richard’s Almanac and, of course, there was that business with the kite.

And then there’s rhubarb.

On a 1772 trip to London, Franklin became interested in research being done with the odd stalky plant for medicinal purposes. When he sent a case of rhubarb root back to America for study, it did not occur to him he was introducing a new food to the colonies. It took several decades to catch on, but the tart red vegetable developed a following among bakers, who referred to rhubarb as “pie plant,” after its primary use.

The popularity of rhubarb pie continues to this day, but its use in culinary pursuits need not be limited to desserts. The zing that rhubarb brings to pies, crisps and compotes can also offer an excellent, though underused, kick in the pants to the savory as well as the sweet. Rhubarb bread offers the best of both worlds.

Lightly sweetened with brown sugar and chock full of the bright and tangy taste of the venerable vegetable, rhubarb bread is a palate-pleaser whether your taste leans to the savory or sweet. Rhubarb toast slathered with strawberry jam or a tangy take on french toast will get the day started right, but the savory side is even more fun. A turkey sammie on rhubarb bread punches up lunch with a flair usually reserved for a sweet-savory post-Thanksgiving sandwich. Let's hear it for Ben's delicious pie plant.

I think it may need a new nickname.

Rhubarb Bread

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup dry milk
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup well-chopped rhubarb
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Combine water and yeast in a mixing bowl and let rest 5 minutes to proof.

Add flour, dry milk, brown sugar, butter, rhubarb and salt to a bowl and mix using a dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer into a greased bowl, cover with a towel and let rise 60-90 minutes until nearly doubled in size.

Punch down, shape into a loaf and place in a greased 9” loaf pan.

Let rise another hour until a crown rises several inches over the rim of your pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven  35-40  minutes, until browned.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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