How Sweet


Vibrantly hued rhubarb, often destined for a humble pie, gets a glam makeover in this recipe for rhubarb cupcakes. In season from late spring to summer, rhubarb is a tart fruit readily available in most markets. Here, stalks of ruby and rose are sliced into thin discs then simmered in a mixture of sugar and water. The stewed rhubarb is then used in both the cake and the frosting. The first bite of these cupcakes will enliven your taste buds as the rhubarb-lemon buttercream frosting dances across your palate. A rich, ginger-spiced cake follows, making for one scrumptious bite. Make these seasonal treats now, before rhubarb is no longer available.

Rhubarb Cupcakes

(makes 12 cupcakes)


For the stewed rhubarb:
11 oz. rhubarb, rough ends trimmed
1 cup water
3 tbsp. white sugar

For the cupcakes:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. white sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour*
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. self-rising flour*
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/3 cup milk

For the rhubarb-lemon frosting:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar*
Juice of half a small lemon


Stew the rhubarb. Slice rhubarb widthwise, then place in a medium-sized saucepan with water and 3 tbsp. white sugar. Cook over medium heat until the rhubarb starts to soften and break up, stirring occasionally (6 - 8 minutes). Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Reserve the stewed rhubarb for the cupcakes. Return the stewing liquid to the saucepan and increase the heat to medium-high. Reduce mixture to just under 1/4 cup liquid (9 - 11 minutes). Reserve liquid for the frosting.

Prepare the wet ingredients. Preheat oven to 350°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and white sugar on medium until pale and smooth (about 5 minutes). Add one egg, mixing until incorporated. Repeat with the other egg.

Add the dry ingredients. Sift all-purpose flour, self-rising flour and ground ginger into a clean bowl. With the mixer off, add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix on low speed for a few moments then increase to medium and mix until just incorporated. Mix in half of the milk. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients and milk, mixing until well combined. Do not over-mix here.

Finish the cupcakes. Using a spatula, gently fold in the stewed rhubarb. Line a cupcake tin with twelve cupcake wrappers. Spoon the batter into the wrappers, making them about 2/3 full. Bake in the preheated oven until golden (22 - 24 minutes). Let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

Frost the cupcakes. While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and half of the powdered sugar. Beat on low for a few moments then increase to medium and mix until smooth. Add the reserved rhubarb juice and mix until incorporated. Mix in remaining sugar on low at first then medium until smooth. Add lemon juice then beat on medium until smooth and fluffy. Add more lemon juice to taste. Frost cooled cupcakes with an offset spatula or butter knife.

Enjoy! Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days.

*Measure these ingredients using the spoon and level method: spoon ingredient into the measuring cup, then level with the back of a knife.