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Savor the Season: Local baker mixes rhubarb and strawberries

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Baking and summer don't necessarily go hand in hand, but some fresh, summer ingredients just beg to be blended with boatloads of sugar and baked to a golden-edged crisp. Strawberries and rhubarb are two such ingredients, and you might be cutting it a hair close on the berries but you should still be able to get both at your farmers' market. It's not a revolutionary combo by any means, but why mess with the best?

Baker Katie Novotny, of St. Paul Classic Cookie, says her mom's recipe for strawberry rhubarb muffins is one of her shop's best-sellers in the summer. St. Paul Classic Cookie, which used to share a space with the Q Kindness Cafe in downtown St. Paul, is about to open at a new location on Territorial Dr. near 280 and University.

Novotny shares her mom's recipe and walks us through the process:

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

¼ lb. butter 1 ½ c. sugar 4 eggs 1 ½ c. sour cream 3 c. flour ½ t. salt 1 t. baking soda 1 ½ c. strawberries 1 ½ c. rhubarb (See below for details on fruit prep.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper cups and spray with Pam.

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In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then beat until mix lightens in color. Add the sour cream.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda.

Once your wet mix is ready, add your dry ingredients just until they are mixed in. Add the fruit just until it is incorporated. Scoop muffins into tins and sprinkle the top with raw or regular sugar.

Bake for five minutes at 400 degrees, turn down the oven to 325 and bake for 15-20 minutes more. Muffins are done when you press them and they bounce back.

Tips: • When you add the dry ingredients to the wet mix, do not over mix, this will make the muffins tough. • Frozen fruit works best, but if you pick up fresh fruit from the local market you can chop the rhubarb and strawberries into small pieces, and freeze them flat on a tray so they don't stick, and use the fruit once it's frozen. Using frozen fruit keeps the fruit in tact when you mix it and then your muffins will have nice bug chunks of fruit in them.

Don't know if you're up for toiling away over a hot oven for some fresh muffins? Novotny hears you. St. Paul Classic Cookie is launching a baked good lover's response to CSAs (see the bakery's site for more info.). Meet the CSB: community-supported bakery. Choose from cookies, muffins, bars, and brownies and subscribe for between six and two dozen weekly. Sign up by this Saturday and get a $20 coupon!