Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rhubarb Rhapsody

Last week, I was going along my merry way, just minding my own business when schwoop an email update from Smitten Kitchen landed in my inbox.  This was no ordinary update; a mere glance at the subject line caught my immediate attention - rhubarb snacking cake.  

Described as 'Part buckle, part streusel cake and part crumb bar', I was hooked before I could measure out the first scoop of sugar. In the meantime, to make sure I didn't 'miss out' on such a delectable delight, one of my colleagues forwarded the aforementioned email update to me at work.  (Conspiracy anyone?)

Lucky for me, Sunday was pretty iffy weather-wise.  SO, I whipped up a rhubarb snacking cake for my culinary focus group (aka - the gals at work) to determine whether this recipe was a keeper blog worthy.  The mere fact that you're reading this right now is a quick summary of their feedback. 

I followed Deb's recipe exactly, except I used farm fresh cinnamon butter from Cricket Creek Farm for the crumb topping (in lieu of butter and cinnamon).  

The rhubarb was from my brother-in-law's patch, the eggs were from Cricket Creek Farm and the flour was from King Arthur.  Here's the step-by-step.

1 1/4 pound (565 grams) rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths on the diagonal
1 1/3 cup (265 grams) granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice (psst, skip ahead and zest it for the cake before you cut it)
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups (165 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup (80 grams) sour cream

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces, or 55 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan with butter or a nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper, extending the lengths up two sides. (It will look like a sling). Stir together rhubarb, lemon juice and 2/3 cup sugar and set aside. Beat butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at at time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Whisk together flour, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon table salt and ground ginger together in a small bowl. Add one-third of this mixture to the batter, mixing until just combined. Continue, adding half the sour cream, the second third of the flour mixture, the remaining sour cream, and then the remaining flour mixture, mixing between each addition until just combined.

Dollop batter over prepared pan, then use a spatula — offset, if you have one, makes this easiest — to spread the cake into an even, thin layer. Pour the rhubarb mixture over the cake, spreading it into an even layer (most pieces should fit in a tight, single layer).
Stir together the crumb mixture, first whisking the flour, brown sugar, table salt and cinnamon together, then stirring in the melted butter with a spoon or fork. Scatter evenly over rhubarb layer. Bake cake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. The cake is done when a tester comes out free of the wet cake batter below. It will be golden on top. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Cut the two exposed sides of the cake free of the pan, if needed, then use the parchment “sling” to remove the cake from the pan. Cut into 2-inch squares. 

Oh and while we're talking about rhubarb, Maple Valley Creamery is currently offering Taft Farm rhubarb ice cream.  It has the subtle taste of rhubarb in a yummy cream base. Try it while you can buy it!Local peeps will find it at Berkshire Organics

Bon Appetit!  

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