I have had exactly one rhubarb thing in my entire life: a strawberry rhubarb crumble, which I didn't have until last year. Why? I don't know-it just never came around. Shame on me. It wonderful! Tart, tangy, subtle sweet, crispy crunchy; all the things a fruit should be. When I was at the store this past week, I saw rhubarb on sale-63p a bunch. I cleared them out and walked home with a skip in my step and a determination to make something scrumptious.
Crisp? Crumble? Ice Cream? Pie? What to make, what to make . . . I even googled rhubarb. Mostly I just got interested facts. But that's beside the point.
I searched through some of my favorite foodie blogs to see what other had come up with, when I stumbled upon this from Smitten Kitchen: Big Crumb Coffee Cake.
I made these guys for an Oscar we had at the beginning of the week. They left everyone in wordless, moaning bites that tried to describe their goodness. Words don't work here-just noises.
Please make these soon.
Butter for greasing pan
For the rhubarb filling:
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups cake flour (I was out and used all-purpose and it worked great)
For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream (creme fraiche if you're in the UK)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (ditto on the all-purpose flour–worked just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan, or you can line a muffin tin with muffin papers if you want individual portions rather than one loaf. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.
2. 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. Be sure that the sugar has fully dissolved in the butter before you add the flour! Or else you will get a sandy mess, and no one wants that. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.
3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, 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.
4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan or muffin tin. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.
5. 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 for the loaf, 22-35 minutes for the muffins. Cool completely before serving.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen, adapted from The New York Times 6/6/07