The following recipe and photography is courtesy of Lauren Schulte. To see more of her bites and meals, visit her Instagram @TheBiteSizePantry.
Have you ever been to a produce auction before? This past July I got the chance to experience my first ever produce auction with the Heinen’s team who I’ve been working with for just a couple months now as a food media contributor. Many of the recipes and content I put out on my page use the local produce and ingredients I buy up from our local Heinen’s grocery store.
The immense pleasure I’ve had working with their team and shopping at their stores was greatly increased when I was invited to the County Line Auction in West Salem, OH. It was invigorating to see where the food I buy comes from! I was able to meet the farmers who help to put food on our table and see the care Heinen’s puts into every pallet of produce, all so that they can make sure their customers are getting the absolute best. I think everyone should experience this if they ever get the chance.
I was able to get my hands on some fresh-picked (so fresh that it was harvested that day or the day before) Rhubarb and Ground Cherries along with other varieties of produce. I was drawn to the Ground Cherries when a friendly customer told me to “try one, they’re so delicious and subtly sweet.” So I did, and she wasn’t wrong. I’ve never heard of these or cooked with them before. I couldn’t wait to get in my kitchen and start working with this ingredient.
My Produce Haul
The ground cherries and rhubarb were the star ingredients in my Bluebarb Breakfast Bars. They may be called breakfast bars, but don’t let that stop you from snacking on them all day long.
Rhubarb is such an unusual ingredient, and strictly seasonal, so I recommend grabbing it while you can. I love to use fresh ingredients when I can, so when I came across the rhubarb stalks at the County Line Produce Auction, I knew I had to snatch them up. Rhubarb season is generally April through June, but you’ll see it sooner and later in some areas. I bought the rhubarb back in July at the auction, so to keep it fresh and use it later, I freeze the stalks! Slice them and lay them out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Put the pan in the freezer and freeze until solid. Then transfer the rhubarb to a freezer style Ziploc baggie or airtight container.
My Bluebarb Breakfast Bars are a fruity snack cake like the kind your grandma makes. They’re packed with jammy bits of sweet/tart Rhubarb, Blueberries and Ground Cherries and it’s my favorite way to start the day.
“Bluebarb” Breakfast Bars
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tsp for sprinkling on top
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, saving out 1 Tbsp to toss with rhubarb and berries
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup Ground Cherries
- Set oven to 350F
- Lightly butter a 9×9 square baking pan. I like to line the pan with parchment paper with overhanging ends so I can easily lift out the cooled cake for cutting. That’s optional.
- Stir the lemon juice into the half and half and set aside.
- Cream the soft butter and sugar in a stand mixer, or with electric beaters, until fluffy and pale yellow. Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
- Prep your rhubarb. Chop your rhubarb into small bite-size pieces.
- Prep your ground cherries. Peel off the outer skin of the ground cherries, leaving just the cherry center itself.
- Take 1 Tbsp of the flour to the rhubarb, blueberries and cherries and toss well.
- Whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and blend in. Add all of the half and half, and blend in. Finally, add the rest of the flour and blend just until combined, don’t over mix. Fold in the rhubarb. Note: the batter is on the thick side.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top evenly with a little sugar. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is turning golden and a toothpick in the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it (moist crumbs are fine.)
- Let the cake cool slightly before cutting.
Make it your own ~
- Other fruit like berries works beautifully in this rhubarb breakfast cake. Also, try chopped bananas.
- Mix the topping sugar with a touch of cinnamon for a hint of spice.
- For a lower-fat option try buttermilk in place of the half and half and lemon. Half Greek yogurt and half milk would work, too.