Rhubarb bread with juicy nuggets of tart fruit is absolutely the first thing you should bake this spring (and keep on baking it until all the rhubarb is gone!)
baking seasonally: rhubarb bread
If you don’t want to reach through the screen and grab a slice of this moist, plush rhubarb bread well, I’m not sure you’re human (either that or you’ve never tasted rhubarb!) Rhubarb is the darling of spring produce, it’s everything right now. And this yummy rhubarb bread is a really quick and easy way to enjoy it. It’s the very heart and soul of what it means to eat (or bake) seasonally.
If you love the flavor of cranberries, and all things citrus, you’ll definitely love rhubarb bread. It’s tart with a lovely berry aroma and flavor. So. Good.
more baking with rhubarb
- Old Fashioned Rhubarb Crunch
- Rhubarb Crumble Tart
- Easy Rhubarb Breakfast Cake
- Perfect Rhubarb Muffins
- Ginger Rhubarb Crisp
- Norwegian Rhubarb and Almond Cake
rhubarb bread ingredients
- fresh rhubarb
- start looking for it in mid March in your produce section. Fresh is best for this particular bread. If you do use frozen sliced rhubarb don’t thaw it before using or it will become soggy. Your loaf may not bake as evenly with frozen rhubarb.
- cultured buttermilk (right in your supermarket’s dairy case) is one of the secrets to this bread’s lovely texture and flavor.
- vegetable oil
- any neutral veg oil is good for baking. I often use canola, safflower, or generic ‘vegetable’ oil.
- vanilla extract
- I use up to a tablespoon of vanilla in this bread. In my experience vanilla has lost potency in recent years and I need to use more and more just to flavor my baked goods. Definitely go for a good brand, and make sure you’re buying pure vanilla extract, and not flavoring or anything artificial.
- baking powder and salt
- all purpose flour
best way to cut rhubarb for quick bread
Some rhubarb stalks are super thin and can be simply sliced. But most rhubarb stalks are much thicker. After trimming both ends, I cut the stalk in half lengthwise, and then thinly slice. Basically I’m looking for pieces roughly the size of large blueberries.
why the sugar topping?
I like to sprinkle sugar on the surface of some of my quick breads because it adds a little extra crunch and sweetness to the bread. It creates a crackly crust that I love. How does that work?
First, sugar is a hygroscopic substance, which just means that it attracts and absorbs moisture. When sugar is sprinkled on top of the batter, it draws moisture to the surface of the bread. As the bread bakes, the sugar melts and caramelizes, creating a thin layer of candy-like coating on the surface of the bread ~ and the crunchy, crackled crust that is so delicious on quick breads like this rhubarb bread. I do this with my Amish Cinnamon Bread, too.
when is rhubarb season?
Field grown rhubarb is typically in season from April to June in the Northern Hemisphere, but greenhouse Rhubarb extends the season and we see it in grocery stores starting in March.
is rhubarb a fruit or a veg?
It’s a vegetable that’s treated as a fruit in culinary applications.
why is my rhubarb green?
Rhubarb comes in green, and all shades of pink; it’s not a matter of being ripe or not. The green is just as tasty as the pink, so no worries.
how to use rhubarb
Rhubarb can be used like any other fruit but it’s best when it’s cooked and sweetened because it is very sour. Trim both ends from the stalk and slice like you would celery.
can you eat rhubarb raw?
Yes, you technically can, but it’s quite tart and fibrous, so not everyone would enjoy it. Some like to dip a fresh stalk in sugar or honey before enjoying. If you do want to try raw rhubarb, remember to remove and avoid the leaves, which are toxic. And choose young slender stalks.
why you’ll love rhubarb bread
The best bakes are the simple bakes, and when you spot that first rhubarb of the season, race home to make this wonderful bread. Don’t expect a super sweet bread, although you could sweeten it up by adding a powdered sugar and milk glaze over the top. But I prefer the sprinkle of crunchy sugar topping, it’s just enough. Once rhubarb is cooked the flavor changes dramatically from sour and acidic to tart and berry-like. This bread is soft with a loose crumb texture.
- standard 9×5 loaf pan
- 2 cups diced fresh rhubarb
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon extra for sprinkling on the bread
- 2 tsp vanilla extract, or more to taste
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray and line a standard 9×5 loaf pan with a sling of parchment paper for easy removal and glazing. Dice your rhubarb and set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla until well combined and smooth.
- Whisk in the baking powder and salt, then fold in the flour. Combine well but don't over mix.
- Fold in the rhubarb.
- Turn the batter into your prepared pan. Smooth out evenly, if necessary.
- Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar evenly over the surface of the batter.
- Bake for about 60-65 minutes*, or until firm when lightly touched on top, and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out without wet batter on it (wet crumbs are fine.) If the bread seems to be browning too quickly towards the end of baking, lay a loose piece of foil over the top.
- Let cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then use the parchment paper to remove the cake to a cooling rack to cool completely. Note: if you aren't using parchment paper, let the cake cool in the pan.
Questions and Reviews
Lovely rhubarb loaf. Was easy to make and tastes great. I put in about a 1/4 cup less sugar and it was still great.
Made this today…turned out more like a fluffy cake
Love this recipe! Came out so moist and tasty! Definitely will make it again! It does have a fluffy texture, but I enjoy that over dense. I used almond milk with some vinegar for the buttermilk because it’s what I had on hand.
I was looking for new ways to use our home-grown rhubarb and came across this. It’s so good! I didn’t have buttermilk so I used watered down sour cream and it turned out great. Very moist and love the crunchy sugar top.
Thanks Joni 🙂
This is an exceptional recipe! So moist and tender!! I divided the batter into 4 smaller loaves and baked at 325 for 40 minutes. They were perfect. I will share the loaves!!
How I love rhubarb but I can’t get it where I live ?
You might look for it in the frozen section, Judy. I know how frustrating it can be when you can’t find a special ingredient.
Can this be made into muffins instead of bread? We love rhubarb and this looks delicious!
Yes, and I also have a lovely rhubarb muffin recipe you could try, here.
Can you use frozen rhubarb straight from the freezer or must it be defrosted first and drained?
I use it straight from the freezer, that way it doesn’t get soggy.