At last, the season I’ve been dreaming of while wading through snowdrifts is finally here. It’s warm enough to go hiking again! I will be spending most of this summer inhaling the pine-scented air somewhere on a trail in the Bitterroot Valley. All I need is a buddy or two, good boots and some snacks for the trip.
I like to bake hearty biscuits to take on hikes with me, and struck upon these one morning when I had rhubarb to use up. Thanks to my family and friends with rhubarb patches in their gardens, it’s coming out my ears, so I’ve been putting it in everything. The rhubarb’s sweet tang makes a nice flavor contrast with the rich, buttery flavor of these whole wheat biscuits. These bake within the amount of time it takes my friends to wake and dress, so they’re easy to make should the spontaneous hiking mood strike you. Packed with a bit of cheese and an apple, they make the perfect, easy midday lunch.
You can substitute any fruit you like for the rhubarb, such as apples or dried cranberries. I’m excited to use Flathead cherries once they are in season. Whole wheat pastry flour bakes up with a delicate crumb, like white flour, but packs more nutritional punch. If you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute with one part white flour and one part wheat flour.
Whole Wheat Rhubarb Biscuits (makes 12)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons corn meal (optional, I just like the flavor they add)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Tablespoon canola oil, if necessary
Optional: 1 cup finely diced rhubarb, tossed in 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, toss rhubarb with sugar and flour. In another bowl, whisk together flour, corn meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, stir cold buttermilk into melted butter until clumps form.
Stir dry ingredients into buttermilk mixture until dough just comes together. Whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid than white flour, so add a splash of canola oil if dough seems too dry. Fold in rhubarb.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until tops of biscuits are browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Kate Whittle is based in Missoula, Montana.
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