I’ll spare the apologies for not being a good blogger lately. Mostly, I really should be apologizing to my blog because I’ve been careless, letting our anniversary slip by (four years!) with not even a cheap greeting card or cake (which I usually make to celebrate this little milestone) to mark the occasion. (Actually, I think the real loser here is me since it also meant that I didn’t get to *eat* cake for my blog’s anniversary either. Fails all around.) As these things go, I suspect these means I’ll have to do something absolutely stupendous to make up for it. What that will be, I know not.
Until then, though, I’ve got a Rhubarb Snacking Cake for you all. (And, ahem, for myself, as I have certainly enjoyed a slice or two.)
My back went out a couple of weeks ago. Annoying as hell, but I’m on the mend. I had to take a handful of days away from the office since being flat out on my front was about the only comfortable position I could find and I returned to find a massive bundle of rhubarb on my desk. As in, the stalks — some a good 5 centimetres or so in diameter — were at least two feet long and the entire bundle had been wrapped up using two plastic bags end-to-end and a good binding of tape. I was amused at how I had to hobble out to my car at the end of the day with this bundle, but mostly I was grateful because I do love rhubarb. (Pudding cakes, large crumb coffee cake, upside-down cake, anyone? Or, perhaps my favourite, how about a rhubarb-based cocktail? Yes, click through; they’re named after my grandmother!)
Fortuitously, I had just come across Smitten Kitchen’s latest, a so-called Rhubarb Snacking Cake that she had put together, loosely based on a Martha Stewart recipe, so I knew exactly what I was going to do with at least part of the rhubarb bundle.
It was my first baking project in a number of weeks and it felt great to be back in the kitchen, even if it meant stopping to take breaks to lay down on the floor in between.
This cake has a fabulous crumb and I like how it’s not very tall, which does make it very easy to eat by hand, which my friends and I did that afternoon while sitting out on a back deck drinking Gewurztraminer and soaking up some sun.
(And later, a glass or two of Pinot Noir.)
While I normally follow a recipe exactly the first time I make it, I did make a couple of changes this time around. Namely, I omitted the cinnamon in the crumb topping (although a fan of cinnamon, I don’t love it with rhubarb, I’ve decided) and adding a bit more butter since the crumb wasn’t exactly “crumb-ing” with the four tablespoons called for. Next time (and there will be a next time), I think I’ll cut back on the flour a bit as the crumbs still seemed a bit dry. I know our Canadian flour is a bit stronger than that of our southern neighbours, so that may be why it wasn’t quite dead on. (If you click over and look at Deb’s photos on her post, you’ll see her topping looks different.)
But, really, minor quibble in the great scheme of things.
It should also be no surprise, but I upped the amount of lemon zest and maybe splashed a bit more of the juice in with the chopped rhubarb. The recipe below reflects that, but if you’re not as much of a fan of lemon as I am, feel free to rein things back in.
Lastly, as going through the recipe again, I just realized I mucked it up, putting only 1/3 cup sugar in the topping and a full cup in the batter. I actually thought it was quite tasty this way since then the rhubarb layer more tart (but not alarmingly so). Below is the recipe as it should be, but feel free to do it the wrong (and yet still super delicious) way that I did it.
Rhubarb Snacking Cake
From Smitten Kitchen, as inspired by Martha Stewart Living.
- 1 1/4 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths on the diagonal
- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (though I might do a tablespoon or two less next time)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon table salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan with butter or cooking spray, then line with parchment paper, extending it up two sides to make a sling.
Stir together rhubarb, lemon juice and 2/3 cup sugar, then set aside.
Beat the butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl each time. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the batter, mixing on low until just combined. Add half of the sour cream and continue mixing on low, then add another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the sour cream and finish with the rest of the flour. (I mixed the last addition until just barely combined, finishing it off with the spatula.
Scoop the batter into the pan and spread evenly. (Deb suggests using an offset spatula. I agree; it made it much easier to make the layer even and get it into the corners.) Top with rhubarb, spreading evenly.
For the crumb mixture, whisk together flour, brown sugar and salt, then mix in the melted butter with a fork. Scatter over the rhubarb.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until a tester comes out clean of cake batter. Cool in the pan on a rack.
To serve, use the sling to lift the cake free from the pan and cut into squares.