Rhubarb Cheesecake

I guess I’ll have to take the blame for Brion’s love of dessert. When we were first married years ago, he really didn’t care much about sweets. I, on the other hand, had grown up in a German family where every meal was finished with something sweet. It didn’t have to consist of anything more than a dish of vanilla pudding, but it was sweet and that’s what mattered. Funny how something like that can become so ingrained in your life. Of course, over time Brion has come to like dessert as much as I do, not really a good thing now that we are getting older … hmmm!

But I need to explain today’s decadent blog dessert. I just happens, we are celebrating Brion’s birthday so we are pulling out all the stops and having cheesecake! Of course, some of it will probably end up in the freezer but that works to.

Brion and I have never been much on giving each other ‘gifts’ for special occasions. Our time spent together ‘just living’, whether its at home or on a vacation has always been the best gift. Throughout our married life Brion has always gone above and beyond to look after us. I’m grateful to have the privilege of such a loving and caring husband.

So here we are, celebrating you, my love with rhubarb cheesecake and all the trimmings. Life is good!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WITH LOVE!

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Rhubarb Cheesecake
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Candied Rhubarb Curls
Rhubarb Layer
Cheesecake Layer
Crust/Crumb Layer
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Candied Rhubarb Curls
Rhubarb Layer
Cheesecake Layer
Crust/Crumb Layer
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Candied Rhubarb Curls
  1. Make the simple syrup, combining the sugar & water in a small pot and heating until dissolved. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, add gel food coloring stirring to combine. Using a paring knife (or try a vegetable peeler), slice long, thin strips of rhubarb from the outer stalk. Soak the ribbons in the cooled simple syrup for about 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line or lightly grease a baking sheet. Lay each ribbon on the baking sheet. Bake until the ribbons have dried out. Note: they will still be sticky and flexible from the heat. If you want to make curls, work with one or two ribbons at a time so the remaining ribbons can stay soft in the oven. Wrap each ribbon loosely around skewers or the handles of cooking utensils, and let dry for around 10 minutes before gently sliding the curled ribbons off.
Rhubarb Layer
  1. Cook rhubarb, sugar & water. Simmer for 8 minutes over medium heat. Add in the cornstarch & cook 2 more minutes. Set aside to cool.
Cheesecake Layer
  1. Beat together the cream cheese with icing sugar until smooth then add eggs. Try not to overmix at this point. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Crust/Crumb Layer
  1. Line a 9-inch springform pan with foil paper. Crumble together butter, flour, oats, brown sugar & salt. Add two thirds of the mixture to springform pan & press firmly. Add walnuts to the remaining crumbs & set aside.
Assembly
  1. If using a silver springform pan, bake at 325 F. If using a dark nonstick springform pan, bake at 300 F. Bake bottom layer of crumbs for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, pour cheesecake mixture over the crust & spread with a spoon, being careful not to disturb the crust layer too much.
  2. Spread the rhubarb mixture on top of the cheesecake.
  3. Crumble the remaining crust/crumb mixture evenly over the top & lightly press down.
  4. Bake until topping is golden brown & cheesecake is set, about 50 minutes.
  5. Cool completely, then decorate with fresh strawberries, rhubarb curls, chocolate malt balls & silver sugar pearls or as you wish.
Recipe Notes
  • You will have extra candied rhubarb to nibble on!

Rainbow Trout w/ Mushroom Stuffing

There is something about fresh roasted fish that always appeals to me. This simple preparation really allows the fish to be the star of the meal.

Trout are fresh water fish, with firm textured flesh and a medium to high (good) fat content. Rainbow trout is probably the best known and one of the most popular varieties in the world. Being a mild, white fish with a light, clean flavor and just a touch of ‘sweetness’, makes it perfect for even a non-fish lover.

Rainbow trout fillets vary from ivory to pink as they belong to the same family as salmon. They’re most often fried but can be poached, baked, steamed, grilled or broiled. Whole trout is often stuffed before being cooked. Mushrooms and fish are an underrated combination but a good one nonetheless. Fish cook very quickly so its important to make sure the stuffing is cooked first.

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Rainbow Trout w/ Mushroom Stuffing
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Clean & scale trout; set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, heat butter. Add onions & celery; sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms & season well; continuing to cook 3 more minutes. Add breadcrumbs & mix well. Add cream, fennel & chives; cook 3 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from heat & stuff trout. Tie with string. Dredge with flour & bake 12-15 minutes.

Lime Berry Tart

The small pleasures of life are found in the little things, in the landscape by the window, in the sky in spectacular colors, in the great sea that sends waves towards us, in a quiet strip of endless beach.

In people who make us smile, in people who understand us even without words, in dishes that go into the oven and create the most incredible smell throughout the house, in rolls of stuffed pasta that are slowly baked in the oven.

The little pleasures in life lie in the little things we almost always take for granted, just assuming they will always be there. Over the last number of years, it has come very clear to me there are so many ‘little’ things to appreciate and be grateful for daily. My sister, Loretta once said to me, ‘nothing ever stays the same’. At the time I was much younger and didn’t give much though to those words. As the years have passed, I understand what she meant.

Today, July 25th is Loretta’s birthday. I am very grateful to have her in my life. Although we don’t live in close proximity, our connection is always there.

I find this quote from Steven Aitchison so fitting, ‘If I could give you one special ability in life it would be the gift of seeing yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you …. then you would realize just how amazing you truly are’.

Today, I am making a blueberry themed dessert in honor of Loretta’s birthday because she is a huge blueberry fan.

BIRTHDAY WISHES LORETTA WITH LOVE!

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Lime Berry Tart
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword lime berry tart
Servings
Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword lime berry tart
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Shortbread Crust
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 F.
  2. In your food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt & butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. This should only take about 30 seconds. Press the crumbly mixture into a 4 X 14-inch tart pan (making the sides slightly higher than the center. Do this by pressing the mixture up towards the edge of the pan).
  3. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden brown. Make sure to watch it carefully to make sure the crust doesn’t burn. Once the crust has finished baking, remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool completely.
Filling
  1. In a medium heatproof bowl, place eggs, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, and heavy cream, if using, & whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (bain-marie). Cook on moderate heat, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thick (mine was ready in 10 minutes, but it can take up to 20). It should coat the back of a wooden spoon and leave a clear pass if you run your finger through it. The filling will thicken more once cooled.
  2. Remove from heat & immediately strain mixture through a sieve. Add butter, a few cubes at a time, and whisk until completely melted and incorporated, and mixture is smooth. Take your time with it—the whisking makes for an airy and light texture. Allow to cool to room temperature before filling the tart.
  3. Fill the tart shell with the lime filling, smooth it as best you can & decorate to your liking. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours until chilled.

Coconut Shrimp w/ Spicy Rhubarb Sauce

I have an obsession with rhubarb. I think because it is something I grew up with that makes it a nostalgic thing for me. Now, I’ll be the first to admit when it comes to rhubarb, my mind immediately jumps to desserts. But, over the years, I’m leaning more and more to using it in savory ways.

Tart and tangy, with just a little bit of sweet and spicy complexity, this rhubarb sauce is a unique and unexpected twist that is perfect served with coconut shrimp.

Brion & I love coconut shrimp which is really odd given that neither of us like coconut?? One of the nice things about this meal is that it takes minimal prep work but gives great results. We have tried many versions of sweet & spicy sauce with these shrimp and enjoyed them all. Today we’re experimenting with this savory rhubarb sauce. Should be good!

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Coconut Shrimp w/ Spicy Rhubarb Sauce
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Instructions
Rhubarb Sauce
  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon & cumin. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb & onion; increase heat slightly & cook until rhubarb is tender & mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Cool then place in a food processor with Hot Red Pepper Jelly & process to a smooth sauce. Adjust the amount of red pepper jelly used to your liking. Set aside.
Coconut Shrimp
  1. Using 3 separate bowls, place flour in the first, beaten egg in the second & panko/coconut mixture in the third.
  2. Clean & devein shrimp. Dust them with flour then dip in the egg & lastly coat with panko/coconut mixture.
  3. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Melt butter then add oil. Once the combo is heated, place the shrimp in the skillet & cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  4. Place cooked shrimp on paper towel then serve with spicy rhubarb sauce. We enjoyed these shrimp as a main course with rice & some steamed broccoli.

Black Forest Desserts

While the origins of the black forest cake aren’t all that clear, some historians believe that its origins can be traced back to the Black Forest Region of Germany. This part of Germany is well known for its sour cherries and ‘Kirschwasser‘ … a clear cherry brandy.

This iconic creation is a layered confection of a liqueur ‘soaked’ chocolate cake with rich whipped cream and sour cherries between its layers. The liqueur and cherries give the cake an intense and unique fruity flavor. It’s these sour cherries which gave it its German name: Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen or Black Forest Cherry Cake.

There are many origin stories about the cake. Some sources claim that the name of the cake is inspired by the traditional custom of the women of the Black Forest region, with a characteristic hat with big red pom-poms on top called a ‘Bollenhut’. The earliest published written record of black forest cake was in 1934, by a German confectioner. Today, the cake is well known worldwide and probably one of the most popular cakes in Germany.

Since we just happen to have a nice little sour cherry tree growing in our garden, why not put some of them to good use in these cakes?!

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Black Forest Desserts
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Course dessert
Cuisine German
Servings
Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine German
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cherry juice in the bottom of each of two 8-ounce ramekins. Microwave ramekins until butter and brown sugar are melted and bubbling, about 1 minute. Arrange cherries in a tightly packed layer in the bottom of each ramekin.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. In another small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in egg yolk, then flour mixture and milk. Divide batter between ramekins.
  4. Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out with only a few crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, 20 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, beat cream, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and cherry brandy until soft peaks form. Run a paring knife around edge of each cake and invert onto a plate. Serve cakes with brandy whipped cream.
Recipe Notes
  • Kirschwasser is German for 'Cherry Water', and while it may be as clear as water, it packs quite a punch.  This double distilled brandy made from the sour Morello cherries is, more often than not, simply referred to a Kirsch. This 'not too sweet with a subtle cherry/almond flavored' liqueur is a vitally necessary ingredient to make a traditional Black Forest Cake; for that is where both the cake and Kirschwasser hail from...  The Black Forest, or Schwarzwald, in southwestern Germany.  

Sweet & Sour Pineapple Chicken Balls

Chicken balls aren’t authentic Chinese food but they were probably inspired by Chinese sweet and sour pork. The pork is replaced with chicken, it’s battered instead of breaded and the sauce is sweeter but its in the same ball park. These sweet and sour pineapple chicken balls are a type of modern Chinese food served in Canada, Ireland, United States and the UK as a staple of Chinese take-out. Due to their vast popularity among the masses, they have become linked unwilling to Chinese cuisine, for better or worse. They are largely unheard of in China, depending on the recipe and referred name.

Here in Canada, in our province of Alberta, many of the Chinese dishes that are served in small-town Chinese restaurants have a distinctly Canadian twist. Chinese Canadian food evolved over the decades and has developed into a its own unique cuisine. Some dishes that are unique to Canada and Alberta include ginger beef, cabbage chow mein & sweet and sour chicken balls. Across Canada, Chinese Canadian food has evolved from recipes that were created using the ingredients that were available to the restauranteurs decades ago.

The chicken balls we prefer are dipped in a light batter then baked in the oven as opposed to deep frying them. Brion & I enjoy them served over rice with the tangy pineapple sauce.

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Sweet & Sour Pineapple Chicken Balls
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Chicken Batter
Pineapple Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Chicken Batter
Pineapple Sauce
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Instructions
Chicken
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a food processor, chop chicken meat with seasoning, JUST until it is a roughly ground texture. Divide into 12-16 portions. Wet hands & roll into balls. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Do not overbake. Remove from oven & cool slightly on paper towels until batter is ready.
Sauce
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar & cornstarch. Stir in pineapple with juice, Zesty Italian dressing, (soy sauce), & minced garlic. Cook & stir over low heat until thickened. Set aside & keep warm.
Batter
  1. In a bowl, combine all batter ingredients; beat until smooth. Add chicken balls; stir until covered well with batter.
Baking or Frying
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & place a wire cooling rack over it. Lift chicken balls out of batter with a fork & place on wire rack. Bake at 400 F. for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven to a serving plate. Alternately, you could cook battered chicken on a griddle with oil or deep fry it in a pot of oil.
Serving
  1. When chicken balls are cooked in your preferred choice; pour pineapple sauce over them & serve with steamed rice.

Apricot Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart

Strawberry-rhubarb … raspberry-peach … blackberry-plum … the possibilities for combining summer fruit in amazing ways are truly endless. I’ve recently became aware of the apricot, strawberry & rhubarb combination. This combo had never occurred to me, superseded as it is by the mighty strawberry/rhubarb duo.

Fruit tarts are stunning desserts that look like they should be in a French bakery window, but the truth is they can easily made at home. This super simple, mixed fruit tart with an oat pastry really celebrates the flavors of the season.

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Apricot Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart
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Oat Pastry
Servings
Ingredients
Oat Pastry
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Instructions
Oat Pastry
  1. In a bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, spices & salt. Add melted butter & vanilla; stir to combine. Press 2/3 of mixture onto the bottom & up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan; set aside.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Prepare fruit & place in a mixing bowl; add the orange juice, vanilla, sugar & spices. Stir to coat & set aside.
  3. Pour the fruit over crumble mixture; sprinkle the rest of the crumble around the outside of the fruit.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until crust turns golden brown. Serve warm or cold.

Amaretto Nectarine Cakes

Summer fruit = no fuss. It doesn’t need any amazing kitchen magic. Summer fruit thrives on simplicity and doing its own thing. Its such a natural beauty.

What’s not to love about nectarines? They have all the sweet juiciness of peaches without the fuzz. Buying stone fruit is an investment in the future. You must have faith that the fruit you have just bought will ripen, even though it currently has all the softness of a billiard ball. Maybe it won’t ripen tomorrow or the next day, but eventually, you hope.

Nectarines are usually picked before they’re fully ripe to make for smooth transportation. It’s important to know how to pick out the perfect, closest-to-ripe-but-not-over-ripe nectarine. Strangely enough, the skin color is not a sign of its ripeness, unlike many other fruits. Nectarines shouldn’t have any dark markings and depending on the variety, they should have a slight give when pressed. But, the best way to tell if a nectarine is ripe and high quality is the smell … the more aromatic, the richer in flavor.

Perfectly ripe stone fruits of any kind are very special if you can find them. The remaining fruits that stubbornly refuse to ripen can be rescued to great effect by roasting them in the oven.

Baked amaretto nectarine cakes are great at anytime, but these summer cakes are an especially good way to use up under ripe fruit. The natural sugars in the fruit add a fragrant sweetness that makes it so delicious.

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Amaretto Nectarine Cakes
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Nectarines
Cake Batter
Servings
Ingredients
Nectarines
Cake Batter
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Instructions
Nectarines
  1. Slice nectarines into thin slices, discard stones & place in a bowl with amaretto & sugar. Toss to combine. Divide nectarines between 6 mini flan pans or custard cups.
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a bowl, combine all cake ingredients & beat until smooth. Divide mixture over nectarines in the baking dishes. Place dishes on baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes or until cake has risen & is firm to the touch in center.
  3. Remove from oven & allow desserts to cool in pans/cups for a few minutes then carefully invert on serving plates.

Pineapple Meringue Tarts

There’s just something incredibly refreshing about pineapple tarts with their tangy, bright, acidic flavor nestled in shortbread crusts. Adding meringue puts a tropical twist on the classic meringue pie making them a perfect summer treat.

When it comes to making meringue, simple ingredients and instructions can lull you into thinking preparation is quick and easy. Make it once under the wrong conditions, however, and you may quickly change your mind.

Meringue is temperamental. Getting it right can be a tricky process. Weeping meringues aren’t very pretty. The meringue pulls back from the crust, moisture beads on the topping, and a clear liquid forms below the crust. It doesn’t hurt the pie but it’s not presentable.

Years ago, when I worked in the commercial food industry, I started using the idea of adding cornstarch to meringue to help stabilize it. Cornstarch is especially helpful in hot, humid weather when a meringue is most likely to absorb extra moisture.

The science behind this ‘secret ingredient‘ is that cornstarch is composed of long molecules that it is believed insert themselves between egg white proteins to prevent them from clotting too much while meringue is baking. Corn starch molecules also provide more hold for meringue. It will be easier to cut and is less likely to weep.

Brion & I are not crazy about meringue but do enjoy it for a treat once in a while.

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Pineapple Meringue Tarts
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Pineapple Filling
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Pineapple Filling
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Shortbread Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a bowl combine butter & sugar; beat until light & fluffy. In another bowl whisk together flour & baking powder; add to butter/sugar mixture. Blend together. Divide pastry between 6 individual tart pans. Using your fingertips, evenly press the dough into pans. Place on a baking sheet & blind bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & allow to cool.
Pineapple Filling
  1. In a saucepan, combine cornstarch & sugar. Gradually add water, stirring until mixture is smooth. Add lemon zest & undrained pineapple. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture starts to boil. Reduce heat, boil 2 minutes while continuing to stir. Remove from heat, quickly stir in butter & egg yolks blending well. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
Meringue
  1. In a small saucepan, combine water & cornstarch. Heat & stir until it boils & thickens. Cool thoroughly.
  2. Beat egg whites & salt until a stiff froth. Add sugar gradually, beating until stiff & sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla & cornstarch mixture. Beat until blended & stiff.
Assembly
  1. Divide pineapple filling between tart shells. Pipe meringue over tarts sealing to edges. If not sealed well, meringue will shrink when cool. Bake in 350 F. oven about 10 minutes until golden. Cool away from drafts.

Cinnamon Roll Rhubarb Bread

Rhubarb is the rebel of the vegetable world. It looks like celery, tastes like sour candy, its leaves are poisonous and unlike most spring and summer produce, its barely edible raw. With such a feisty personality, its no wonder some are intimidated to cook it.

More than any other fruit or vegetable, rhubarb to me is the sign of the changing season. It is the signal that summer is arriving in those ruby red or speckled green & pink stalks. I snap up what I can in the garden and when I see it at the supermarket. I take all I can and more, slicing and freezing the excess for rhubarb cravings that come in winter.

Year-round, I save rhubarb recipe ideas I hope to make once I get my hands on the first stalks of the season. No summer would be complete without cinnamon rhubarb bread …. still warm from the oven and the heavenly smell of cinnamon in the air!

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Cinnamon Roll Rhubarb Bread
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Servings
Ingredients
Rhubarb/Cinnamon Filling
Glaze - Optional
Servings
Ingredients
Rhubarb/Cinnamon Filling
Glaze - Optional
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Instructions
Rhubarb Filling
  1. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except vanilla & food color. Heat to medium high & stir occasionally until rhubarb begins to break down completely. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla & food coloring; allow to cool to room temperature.
Dough
  1. In a small dish, combine yeast with lukewarm water & 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, slightly melt butter; cool a couple of minutes then whisk in egg. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt & remaining sugar. Add yeast mixture to butter mixture, whisking together. Add flour mixture, combine then turn on a floured work surface & knead for about 5 minutes. Dough will be very soft but not sticky.
  3. Lightly grease bowl, place dough ball in it & cover with a towel. Place in a draft-free place & allow to rise for about 20 minutes. Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan; set aside
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & press down to deflate it. Fold in the two opposite sides to meet in the middle, then fold in the remaining two sides to meet, so that you've formed the dough into a square. Press down to flatten it slightly, then cover loosely and let stand for 10 minutes
  5. With a floured rolling pin, rolling the dough to form a rectangle that's 12 by 22 inches. Make the corners as square as possible. If you're having trouble with the dough shrinking back, pause briefly before trying again.
  6. Spread rhubarb/cinnamon filling over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Now fold the two long sides of the dough in one at a time, so that the meet each other in the middle. Pinch them together gently to seal the seam. Gently roll over the surface with a rolling pin to flatten the folded dough to about 7 by 25 inches.
  7. Starting at the narrow end, roll up the dough, making a thick spiral. When you get to the end, brush a little egg wash on the loaf at the spot where the end will hit. Pinch the end a bit to seal it.
  8. Carefully & gently place the roll, seam side-down in the buttered pan. The roll of dough should nearly fill it. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap & place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 25-30 minutes, until almost doubled & about 2 inches above the top of the pan. Meanwhile, adjust the oven racks so that you have one rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven.
  9. Preheat to 350 F.
  10. Lightly brush remaining egg wash over loaf & bake for about 20 minutes. You may need to cover the top loosely with aluminum foil towards the end of baking to prevent over-browning. Bake until the loaf, when removed from the pan, sounds hollow when tapped with your fingertips. Cool on a rack.
Glaze
  1. Make glaze by whisking together 2 Tbsp rhubarb filling, 1 cup powdered sugar, and enough lemon juice to make the glaze pourable (1-2 tbsp should do it). When bread has slightly cooled, drizzle with glaze if desired.