Rhubarb Coffee Cake

big crumb coffee cake

Rhubarb, what a funny looking plant, and a funny sounding word. I may have eaten a piece of rhubarb pie once in college — it was a Pi Day Party so the details elude me — but I bought a few stalks at the supermarket last week. It looked like giant reddish celery, like the love child of celery and beets. But its stringy crispy texture is more of a mix between celery and aloe. The green insides remind me of succulents. It was not a promising start, but I tossed it with sugar, cornstarch, and ginger and moved on.

I have made versions of Deb’s Big Crumb Coffee Cake before, except minus the fruit and with the addition of a nutty streusel layer. Yum. As always, I cut down the amount of sugar, and I substituted yogurt for the sour cream. You can also try buttermilk, but the batter might be thinner.

I had a lot of difficulty incorporating the butter into the flour-sugar-everything-dry mixture. The room temperature butter was lumpy, and unless it’s piecrust, no one wants a lob of butter. Looking back at my notes at previous attempts, I realized that I usually cream the butter and sugar so that’s what I suggest you do as well.

Be warned that the batter will not spread to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Do not be alarmed as it will rise admirably.

The finished product had a sandy crumbly crumb topping and moist slightly sweet cake. The rhubarb were like tart bombs with a melty berry like texture. And it disappeared before I had a chance to snap more photos. So I guess people liked it.

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

ADAPTED from Smitten Kitchen

For the rhubarb filling:
1/2 pound rhubarb (about 260 grams), trimmed
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (15 grams) cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup (65 grams) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups (225 grams) cake flour (I was out and used all-purpose and it worked great)

For the cake:
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 medium eggs (or 1 large egg and yolk)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (130 grams) flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

To make crumbs in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together first. Then alternate the wet and dry ingredients, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. I added the sugary slime to the batter as well. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.


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