Honey roasted rhubarb olive oil muffins – lightly sweetened olive oil muffins are studded with tart sweet honey roasted bites of rhubarb.
One of the top pantry staples I cannot live without is a laaaaaaarge bottle of olive oil. My mother always bought the biggest bottle at the store, so did her mother, and so do I. You look for the largest bottle of good quality extra virgin olive oil and buy it. It’s how things are done. My mother used it for cooking, obviously, also some for her hair and skin, but never for baking. So I didn’t learn about olive oil cake until much later in life. It’s now one of my top 4 favorite “every day” cakes.
Olive oil cakes are rich, lightly sweet, and lend themselves very well to citrus and tart flavors. You can make them in a single layer cake, but they also bake beautifully into muffins. When our CSA blessed us with some GORGEOUS organic rhubarb in the spring, there was no time for pie, or cake. But to me, rhubarb is just made for preserving or baking, so I had to make something. Muffins seemed like the responsible adult choice. Unlike cupcakes or a cake, muffins are a perfectly socially acceptable breakfast or snack. People will not judge you too harshly if you say, “I had a muffin for breakfast”, but they might (out of jealousy) if you say you had chocolate cake. In case you’re wondering, I won’t.
Anyway, once I decided rhubarb muffins were my bake of choice, I had to think about the kind of muffin. I didn’t want anything too sweet, and I had just enough olive oil left in a large bottle that I wanted to use so I could clear the space in my pantry since I’d just bought a new bottle. I took it as a sign and got to work. Rhubarb, in case you haven’t had it, has a very tart and “green” sort of flavor. This flavor is what makes it so good in sweet applications, because it provides and balance. But I didn’t want a full-strength rhubarb tartness in the muffins because olive oil muffins aren’t super sweet. I tossed the rhubarb in a bit of honey and roasted it for a few minutes to deepen the flavor and mellow the tartness slightly. The result was lovely, freezer-friendly honey roasted rhubarb olive oil muffins with a hint of tart, a nice rustic texture, and a rich olive oil flavor.
I know technically rhubarb’s peak season has passed (usually March-June), but I still spy some here and there in stores, or you can sub frozen (see recipe notes), or just tuck this recipe away for next year. 😉
- 12 ounces fresh rhubarb, chopped
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup honey
- Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with foil or a silicone baking sheet. Toss the washed and chopped rhubarb with 1.5 tbsp honey and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Reduce oven heat to 350 F.
- While the rhubarb is roasting, line 18 wells of a cupcake tin with liners and set aside.
- While the rhubarb is cooling, whisk together your flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl.
- Combine the wet ingredients (everything else except the rhubarb) in a large mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 2 batches, stirring just until combined after each. Divide between the liners. Top each with an equal amount of roasted rhubarb.
- Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes until the tops are lightly golden and a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and transfer the muffins to cooling racks to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you freeze the muffins, be sure to cool completely before freezing.
** If you are using frozen rhubarb, skip the roasting. Thaw and add to the recipe as is. Frozen rhubarb doesn't really roast well once thawed in my experience.