Springtime Rhubarb-Streusel Muffins

The rhubarb season has started in Switzerland—a sure sign of spring! Considered a vegetable, my experience with rhubarb has been limited to desserts. Although I know more savory options exist, I have yet to try them.

About 80 percent of commercial Swiss rhubarb comes from Vully, located across the lake from where we live. Apparently, there’s one grower, Alexandre Javet, who grows the majority of Swiss rhubarb and has been referred to as the “Rhubarb King.” According to Monsieur Javet, the rhubarb harvest happens twice in the spring, and the first harvest is typically less acidic and less stringy.

rhubarb collage
Almost everywhere I’ve lived, we’ve had rhubarb growing somewhere in a backyard or a garden. As a child, I remember picking it in the springtime and taking a bite of the fresh, sour stalks. In Minnesota, my grandmother would make rhubarb upside-down cake for dessert—I should really track down her recipe…

About 4 years ago, I discovered my own favorite rhubarb recipe for cake-like muffins. I typically make them at least once during the rhubarb season. However, last year I didn’t because we had just discovered my son’s milk allergy, and we were still holding off on introducing eggs.

One year later, I’m more comfortable making substitutions in order to avoid my son’s allergens. I made my rhubarb recipe over the weekend with rice milk, soy yogurt and flax meal—along with treacle sugar (similar to brown sugar) that my husband picked up on a recent trip to South Africa. It seems a little harder to find brown sugar here in Switzerland. The treacle sugar worked fine, but it has a slightly darker appearance.

Even though these take some time to assemble, I was happy with the results. I even tried de-stringing the rhubarb this time (nothing serious, just some loose and stringy pieces), which helped with the overall presentation. I hope you’ll enjoy them too!


Rhubarb-Streusel Muffins


For the topping:
3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons vegetable-based margarine, softened

For the rhubarb:
About 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into ¼-inch pieces
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the batter:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable-based margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy yogurt
1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whole milk

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.

2. Use muffin cups and/or generously grease a 12-cup muffin pan with vegetable-based margarine (or a dairy-free, non-stick cooking spray).

3. Prepare streusel topping: Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Using a pastry blender or a fork, blend in the margarine until the mixture forms small clumps.

4. Prepare the batter: Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Separately, beat together the margarine and sugar, except for the rice milk, in a large bowl. Then, add the yogurt, flax meal and vanilla and mix together until well-blended.

Next, add the flour mixture and milk alternately in two batches, and mix together until just combined (do not overbeat).

Mix the rhubarb and powdered sugar together in another small bowl.


7. Assemble the muffins: Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle the batter with the rhubarb, and spoon the streusel on top.


8. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

9. Cool muffins in the pan on a wire rack for about 5-10 minutes. Loosen the edges of the muffins with a small knife or metal spatula and carefully place on the wire rack to cool slightly. Serve immediately or keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.



If you have any other rhubarb recipes to share, please send them my way. I hope to have another spring vegetable recipe later this week… Thanks so much for your help and support!


Fresh Red Currants, Muffins and Crêpes

I can easily find red currants or “groseilles rouges” here in our Suisse-Romande grocery stores and neighborhood markets. While I’ve made scones before with dried currants in the United States, I had never used the fresh ones. Recently, I bought a frozen berry mélange with red currants, which I used in dairy/egg/nut-free muffins and crêpes. I love trying all this new-to-me produce, as I’ve written before, because it tastes so good and is safe for our food-allergic son.



Grandma’s Blueberry Muffins

I have fond memories of eating these blueberry muffins for breakfast on the family farm in Minnesota. My apologies for not giving credit to the original author; I have no idea where my grandmother found this recipe. While I most often use blueberries, any fresh or frozen berry will do, including fresh red currants—if you can find them.

(dairy/nut-free; can be made egg-free)

1/2 cup oats
2/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg slightly beaten (or your favorite egg substitute; I use flax meal)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Line 12 muffin cups.

2. Combine oats and orange juice in a large bowl, stirring well. Mix remaining ingredients well. Stir in the blueberries. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full. Optional topping: Blend 2 tablespoons sugar with ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over batter.

3. Bake 18-22 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.



Fresh Berry Crêpes

We have so many neighborhood crêperies around us, but we haven’t been to any of them yet. Butter and eggs are standard ingredients in crêpes, so we’ve avoided them so far. I’ve heard there are some gluten-free crêpe options in town, but that doesn’t help us, unfortunately.


I actually own a crêpe pan my husband bought for me over 10 years ago. Allergy-friendly crêpes really didn’t seem possible, but I recently came across many vegan options online, including a great one from Vegan Yum Yum. We’ve had them for breakfast the last two days, and everybody loves them.


For fillings, we’ve stuck to sweet crêpes, but I need to branch out and try some savory options as well. A “crêpe guy” visits my husband’s office once a month, and he’s been sampling their many delicious varieties, such as ham, sausage and spinach, lemon, and salted caramel. At home, I’ve been filling our crêpes with berries, including red currants, and my personal favorite, Stonewall Kitchen’s Holiday Jam.


Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day – can you tell? What are your favorite allergy-friendly crêpe fillings?

Egg Allergy and Chocolate Spice Muffins

I may need to rename this blog. We learned yesterday that our dairy-free son is also allergic to eggs. For some reason, I was so convinced the test would be negative. I had optimistically planned to serve him frittata for lunch after the appointment. This will be another challenge for him, but we’ll figure it out. Tree nuts, peanuts and sesame seeds are also off limits for the time being. We’ll do more testing for these once we’ve tracked down a new allergist in Switzerland.

My dairy/egg-free and vegan friends–both by choice and necessity–have already started providing suggestions for us. I’ll be sharing the results of our experiments with these various options. If you have egg-free alternatives and recipes to share, please leave a comment below or send an email to dairyfreeswitzerland@gmail.com.

Here’s an allergy-friendly recipe we tried for breakfast this morning. I figured we could all use some chocolate to start out the weekend right. This is a modified version of the Chocolate Spice Bread recipe that appears in The Modern Baker, by Nick Malgieri (2008).


Chocolate Spice Muffins


1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking power
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 brown sugar
5 tablespoons dairy-free margarine, melted

Mix together the dry ingredients and set aside. Blend wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients just until blended. Place batter into a muffin tin that’s greased with a non-dairy option (olive oil, veg. oil or dairy-free margarine) or has paper liners. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Makes 10 muffins.