In the city, a bag full of rhubarb is the secret language of people with gardens in their pasts. Our garden gates were a row of peas on one side, rhubarb on the other. I was the pea cheerleader, a watchdog of their progress up my mom’s hand-made trellis, a carefully strung contraption of dowels and kitchen twine.
Thanks to my reputation for gauging the peas’ growth by eating them, I was warned away from the rhubarb whose big, billowy leaves I had been told were poisonous. Frankly, I wasn’t much interested in anything that I couldn’t pluck or pull right from the earth and stick directly in my mouth—even carrots, after a quick shake—that having the rhubarb off-limits wasn’t a much of a loss.
Now, I treasure it. Even its most skinny spring stalks can survive a day being carted around Brooklyn in this writer’s purse in an attempt to have it all: rhubarb and time with a good friend in one perfect Saturday with imperfect public transit. If you tell someone what to do with rhubarb, they will think that you know something and feel as if you have given them a gift. And if, say, you put rhubarb in a donut that’s something to be proud of.
Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Donuts
For the cooked rhubarb:
8 ounces (scant 2 cups) thin rhubarb stalks, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
6 T water
- Combine the rhubarb and water in a small saucepan over very low heat.
- Stir frequently, cooking just until the rhubarb is completely broken down.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly while you assemble the donut ingredients. You’ll use about half of this for the donuts and about half for the glaze.
For the Donuts:
1/3 cup liquid refined coconut oil, plus more for oiling the pan
1 cup cane sugar
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup garbanzo and fava bean flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup arrowroot
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda
6 Tbsp. cooked rhubarb (see above)
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 cup hot tap water
- Generously oil two donut pans (6 donuts each) with coconut oil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 325.
- Combine the sugar, brown rice flour, garbanzo and fava bean flour, potato starch, arrowroot, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk until fully incorporated.
- Make a well in the center and add the cooked rhubarb, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, coconut oil, and hot tap water. Stir until fully combined.
- Using a melon baller or a tablespoon, put 3-4 tablespoons of batter in each donut mold and use a toothpick to spread it evenly.
- Bake for 16 minutes, rotating once after 8 minutes.
- Allow donuts to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the rhubarb glaze:
1/8 cup rhubarb juice, from the remaining cooked rhubarb
1 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
- Put the remaining cooked rhubarb into a fine mesh strainer positioned over a small bowl.
- Stir the cooked rhubarb to help separate the pulp and strain the juice. Reserve the pulp for another use or discard.
- Measure 1/8 cup of the strained juice (You should have a bit more than that. If you’re shy, you can sneak in a little water to make up the difference.) and combine it in a small bowl with 1 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar. Stir until smooth.
Disclosure: There’s an Amazon.com affiliate link up there, which means I will receive an itty bitty commission on all purchases made through Amazon links in this post.