Rhubarb Spoonbread

by autumn on May 2, 2012

I have been thinking about affection. I got my hands on a lecture that Wendell Berry gave last week called “It All Turns On Affection.” I won’t do it the injustice of a summary; I’d much rather you read it yourself. I will say that what really stuck with me was the idea of letting affection be what compels you.

I read the speech on my train ride to the greenmarket on Saturday morning. I struggle with explaining my weekly farmer’s market ritual, which contains many seemingly unsavory elements: leaving my apartment before 8 am on a weekend, an hour on the subway, and a whole lot of schlepping. The language of commitment never feels quite right for something that brings me such pleasure, something that I have such an affection for.

The first time I bought buttermilk it was because I found some at the greenmarket from the little town in Sullivan County where my mom was born. I will risk culinary shame and tell you that I didn’t much care about buttermilk before that. Now, I buy it a couple times a month and seek out recipes, like this one, that let it shine. A deep, complex affection brought me the simple joy of buttermilk too early on a Saturday.

I’ve been picking out other places where affection is at work in my life and places I could let it work. I think there may be some undoing involved. Ponder it over Rhubarb Spoonbread and let me know what you come up with.

Rhubarb Spoonbread


  • 6.5 oz (about 2 cups) rhubarb, sliced about 1/4 thick
  • 2.5 oz (1/3 cup) sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
  • 2 T maple syrup (preferably grade B), plus more for drizzling
  • 4.5 oz (1 cup) yellow cornmeal
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 T butter, preferrably unsalted
  • 3 eggs

Cooking Directions

  1. Place chopped rhubarb, maple syrup, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir together and set aside while you gather the remaining ingredients and complete the following steps.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400.
  3. Place the butter in an 8 x 8 inch square pan and put the pan in the pre-heating oven.
  4. Whisk together the cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Add the eggs, but do not stir, set aside.
  5. Check on the butter. Take it out of the oven when it's completely melted. Allow the oven to continue preheating.
  6. Now, stir the eggs into the cornmeal mixture and add the buttermilk. Stir briskly until completely combined.
  7. Swirl the butter around the hot pan and pour any excess into the batter. Stir to combine.
  8. Stir the rhubarb sugar mixture into the batter and pour into the buttered 8 x 8 pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the center no longer jiggles.
  9. Serve warm drizzled with more maple syrup.


  • Adapted (just barely) from this Edna Lewis recipe on Leite’s Culinaria and inspired by this sweet spoonbread over at Homesick Texan.
  • If you need this to be strictly gluten-free, make sure to select a cornmeal that is labeled “gluten-free.” Some brands are not considered gluten-free due to cross-contamination.
  • This was my first time making spoon bread and I immediately regretted not making it long ago. The texture is firm, but custard-y.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 EA-The Spicy RD May 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I’ve never had spoon read before, but this sounds delicious! My poor kids have never even had rhubarb, so this looks like a great place to start. Can’t wait t try this out!


2 emily | nomnivorous May 2, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Oh, oh dear this looks loverly. I have some leftover rhubarb from dinner partying, this might have to get made very soon.

Have you tried to reheat this spoonbread? If I make it, I have a feeling there will be leftovers for future mornings.


3 autumn May 2, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Thanks, Emily! So I didn’t try reheating it, but will admit that we ate the leftovers cold, straight out of the pan 🙂


4 Kate @ Snowflake Kitchen May 2, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Looks lovely seconded. Do you think it would transition well to individual spoon breads in ramekins?


5 Kate @ Snowflake Kitchen May 2, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I mean, would it lose its lovely texture…


6 autumn May 3, 2012 at 12:02 am

Hmm… I guess you’d probably just want to reduce the baking time. a la cakes vs cupcakes. I love the idea of doing something like this in a ramekin though. If it were me, I’d just keep an eye on them and and take them out when the center seemed set and they were sufficiently brown around the edges. And I guess you’d want to do the butter melting/addition a little differently. Please report back if you try it!


7 Carol, Simply Gluten Free May 4, 2012 at 12:49 am

Great pictures Autumn. I love the contrast of color between the wood and the rhubarb.


8 autumn May 4, 2012 at 9:54 am

Thanks, Carol! I’ve been really pushing myself to get better at photography, so I totally appreciate that. It was nice to see your recipes on the Easy Eats blog!


9 Amanda KP May 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm

This looks fab! Do you think you could use frozen rhubarb for it?


10 autumn May 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

Hi Amanda, Thanks! Absolutely! I’d be aware of it potentially producing a bit more liquid though. So, if you toss it with sugar and as it thaws seems like it’s swimming in juice, I’d strain a little off and save it for another use. I made a cherry rhubarb pie recently with frozen cherries and it ended up not quite setting properly because it was extra liquidy.


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