Monday, May 9, 2011

Rhubarb Crumble Coffee Cake

Sheesh, I've been lazy when it comes to posting lately.  My apologies if anyone noticed.  I was finishing up a lovely time in Minnesota with my family (except for the fact that it actually had the gall to snow on the first two days of May...falling into such stereotypes, Minnesota, I'm so disappointed in you...).  We are back to normal life but I have one more recipe that I made while back there (and utilizing my mom's vast selection of dishes and coordinating linens, which I will miss...).  It involves one of my favorite Springtime ingredients, rhubarb. 

Speaking of, I have a tragic story involving rhubarb coffee cake.  I've mentioned before how I was involved in 4-H (see my post on Samoas bars--and yes, I realize samoas come from girl scouts, that just was where I remembered I had put in a teaser about this event...).  Anyway, 4-H makes a big deal about entering items you worked on for exhibition at fairs.  Well, I didn't raise animals and didn't build bird houses, or sew, or make handicrafts or partake in photography.  What I did like to do was bake and so the summer I was eight, I planned to enter a Rhubarb Cake in the Hennepin County Fair with the goal of winning a blue ribbon.

One steamy June day, the time for judging arrived.  I had painstakingly prepared my cake with rhubarb harvested from my father's garden, hand crumbled the cinnamon streusel and baked the cake to perfection.  It was time to go and we were running late, as usual.  My mom loaded myself, my brother, my sister and two neighbor kids she watched into our '87 Grand Caravan (almond colored with the awesome faux wood paneling on the side, of course).  In the chaos that is loading five children into a vehicle, the cake, unfortunately, remained on the roof of the minivan.  We took off down the alley and I don't remember if I suddenly realized my lap was devoid of a potentially prize winning cake or if we heard the sound of it smashing on the cement behind us, but needless to say, there was no blue ribbon in the cards that year. 
So sad.

The recipe for that fateful cake has disappeared, but my love for rhubarb never will.  Here is a winner of a recipe (ha ha)!  Big cinnamon-y crumbs over top of vanilla cake dotted with sweet-tart pieces of rhubarb.   I made it with whole wheat flour to reduce the guilt factor.  For best results, avoid alleys and old school minivans and possibly enjoy with some vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Rhubarb Crumble Coffee Cake
Rhubarb Filling:
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Cinnamon Crumble:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces), melted
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (can substitute all purpose flour just fine, I was just trying to be healthy)

Cake batter:
1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (again, you can substitute)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix together sugar, corn starch and ground ginger from the rhubarb filling ingredients list.  Toss in rhubarb, stir to coat rhubarb in the sugar mixture and set aside.

To make cinnamon crumble, mix together in another bowl the brown and white sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  Stir in melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined and sugar starts to dissolve.  Stir in flour with a spatula or wooden spoon.  It will feel like a stiff dough.  Set aside in one big mass.

In one final bowl (are you running out of dishes yet? I'm sorry, it will be worth it), stir together sour cream, eggs, vanilla extract and sugar until smooth.  Combine together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and add into wet ingredients, gently stirring just until combined.  Fold in rhubarb sugar mixture.  Pour into a greased 8x8 baking dish.  Using your fingers, break cinnamon crumble mixture into large crumbs and sprinkle evenly across top of cake batter.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean of wet batter (it might be a bit moist if you stick a piece of rhubarb).  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Ice cream or whipped cream garnish, optional.

Recipe Adapted from Big Crumb Coffee Cake by Smitten Kitchen

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