Rhubarb Coconut Orange Muffins

I wish I could have rhubarb muffins all year round...

I have a lot of rhubarb.

I just cut down both of my two plants and I have to use it up or freeze it.  I used to only have one rhubarb plant but somehow in the last two years it’s multiplied…

I knew I wanted to make rhubarb orange muffins but I couldn’t find my recipe so I had to hit the web.  We’re all very aware of the irritating new recipe search that Google has implemented so I was skeptical.  And sure enough, on first take it was all the usual suspects.  But, hidden in amongst those on the first page was this gem of a site:

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

I’d heard of the site before but never had the chance to check it out.  They have some wonderful recipes, including a rhubarb orange almond cake I’m very tempted to try – except that cake is dangerous around here.  I’m not very good at limiting myself to one slice…

I found exactly what I was looking for: Rhubarb Orange Muffins.  I made a few changes to it because of ingredients I did and didn’t have on hand and I love muffins that have a streusel topping so I added that as well.

Rhubarb stalks flanked with brown sugar, eggs, and orange zest

Fresh from the garden

Rhubarb Coconut Orange Muffins
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert - Muffins
Serves: 12
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp grated orange zest
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 1¼ cup chopped rhubarb
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and coconut in a large bowl
  3. In a separate bowl beat the egg and add the oil, 2 tsp orange zest and orange juice
  4. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just combined (it will be lumpy)
  5. Fold in rhubarb gently until just combined
  6. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins so it's level with the rim of the tin.
  7. For streusel topping combine brown sugar and tbsp of orange zest - sprinkle this on top of the muffins half way through their baking time.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes
I misread the recipe and only used ½ tsp of baking powder and they turned out fine. I think toasted coconut would work even better for this recipe. I also used fresh squeezed orange juice and I needed 3 oranges to yield ¾ cups.

Food Photography Tips and Notes

I’ve been playing a lot with my new camera and my new 100mm macro lens and decided even before I picked this recipe that I wanted to work on backlighting.  Backlighting is generally difficult for me due to space constraints.  Unless I do a major furniture overhaul every time, I’m unable to use my tripod and backlit shots, I find, really require the camera to be on Manual as opposed to Aperture Priority (AV).  With my old camera, unless I had perfect light, this usually meant I needed a tripod to minimize camera shake.

The new camera has some pretty impressive ISO capabilties so I was able to shoot this hand held at nearly 8pm fully under my control.

Post Processing: The high ISO did introduce a little grain but not anywhere near what you might expect.  I was able to fix some of it with the noise controls in Adobe Lightroom but other than that, I did very little post work except for sharpening.

Image 1: f3.5, 100mm, 1/60th, ISO 2000, no exposure compensation

I’m slowly getting the hang of the macro lens and I find shooting on manual gives me better results than AV mode.  Not sure if that’s just because I’m getting better with the lens in general or because I’ve been playing more in Manual lately.

The composition on this nearly drove me round the bend.  I have about 10 photos all with an element or two I like but none with all the right elements.  This was the best of the lot but I’m not thrilled with the light on the muffin.  I couldn’t get it quite right even with a reflector – and yet, on some of the other shots with much worse composition, I nailed it.

So frustrating.  I swear, photography is like golf!

Image 2: f3.2, 100mm, 1/80th, ISO 2000, no exposure compensation

This one, I’m almost happy with! The light is being reflected from the right which helped give me the exact contrast and shadow I wanted.  I originally wanted the focus to be on the bottom tips of the stems but changed my mind after a few shots so that the focus was on the water droplets – giving it that fresh from the garden feel (which it was!).

Again, composition was a struggle – those damn eggs! They never looked right.  I even took them out but then it felt like something was missing.  But I think I captured the look and feel so I’m ok with that part!

But it was a lot of fun to mess around with backlighting and I hope to do some more of it over the summer.


    • Melissa says

      Thanks Kate… it’s more a lot of practice rather than talent, I think. But your photos are looking really sharp these days!

  1. says

    What a great way to use rhubarb! I love the addition of the streusel topping too. I find it makes muffins extra tasty.
    I love the pictures you took. I’ve been trying to experiment with different lighting too. So far I haven’t had much luck, but I think good photography just takes time and practice (and patience!)

    • Melissa says

      Patience – definitely! Practice – most definitely! I think Penny De Los Santos gave everyone a kick in the butt a few weeks ago!

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