Oh Rhubarb! Why didn’t I appreciate you more when you were growing freely in my former back yard?
Maybe because I didn’t have this Rhubarb Crumble Coffee Cake back then. This one can make a rhubarb lover out of anyone.
There might be butter involved. Call that coercion if you like, but it makes for one outstanding coffee cake.
It pains me to now have to buy rhubarb in the grocery store. Up north, you can’t give it away as fast as it grows every spring.
If you haven’t tried rhubarb before or are only used to having it paired with strawberries in pie, this Rhubarb Crumble Coffee Cake is a great place to start. The tangy, definitely un-sweet flavor of the rhubarb keeps this cake from becoming overly sugary.
And, if you’re just not a rhubarb fan, or rhubarb isn’t in season, I see no reason why this coffee cake wouldn’t make a great base recipe for any kind of hearty fruit like blueberries, raspberries, apricots, etc.
Here’s what you need:
Rhubarb, Butter, Eggs, Sour Cream, Flour, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cornstarch, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Vanilla, Salt, Cinnamon, and Ground Ginger
Note: This coffee cake takes 6 Tablespoons (¾ of a stick) of softened butter so plan ahead and set the butter out an hour or so in advance.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Rhubarb comes in stalks that resemble red celery. The thinner the stalks, the more tender the rhubarb.
You need about ½ pound of rhubarb which, depending on size, is about 2-3 stalks. If you don’t have a scale, I had just under 2 cups of rhubarb when it was all cut up.
Slice the rhubarb into pieces about ½ inch thick. If you have especially wide stalks, split them down the middle so all of the pieces are about the same size.
Place the rhubarb in a medium bowl with ¼ cup sugar, 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, and ½ teaspoon ground ginger.
Toss it together to coat all of the pieces of rhubarb and set it aside. The juices will come out of the sliced rhubarb and combine with the sugar and cornstarch to make a bit of a sauce.
For the crumble topping, combine 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup sugar (regular white granulated sugar), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
Add 1¾ cups flour and stir to combine.
Melt 1 stick (½ cup) of butter in a small pan or in the microwave and add it to the dry ingredients.
Stir gently to combine and form big crumbles. Don’t over-stir or you will pulverize your crumbles.
You’re going to use all your mixing bowls for this one…
In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup sour cream, 1 whole egg, 1 extra egg yolk, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
Whisk until smooth and combined.
In another large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, add 1 cup flour, ½ cup sugar,
½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine.
Cut 6 Tablespoons of softened butter into 6 pieces, and add them to the bowl. Add a spoonful of the sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed just until the flour is moistened and the butter has been incorporated.
The batter should look nice and crumbly.
Increase the speed of the mixer to high and beat for 30 seconds. This will make the batter much smoother.
Add the remainder of the sour cream mixture in 2 batches beating for 20 seconds after each addition.
I’m not sure why this recipe has such specific timing for beating in the wet and dry ingredients but I can honestly say that this is the best coffee cake I’ve ever had so I’m happy just to accept this bit of fussiness and go with it.
When your batter is all smooth and combined, spoon out ½ cup of batter and set it aside.
Liberally grease the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking pan with butter.
Spoon the remainder of the batter (minus the 1/2 cup we’ve set aside) into the pan and smooth it out onto the bottom.
Top with the rhubarb being sure to scrape all of the sugar mixture out of the bottom of the bowl.
Dab on the reserved 1/2 cup of batter. It doesn’t matter if it is gloppy and uneven.
Top with the crumbly topping.
Bake at 325 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. If you stick the toothpick into a piece of rhubarb, it will come out gooey but the cake will be done so be sure the toothpick is just clean of batter.
The cake will be golden brown and smell amazing. Two more hints that it is done and all these infernal steps have been worthwhile.
Now the hard part, cool the cake completely in the pan. Try not to pick off all the crumbly topping.
Cut into squares and serve.
Notice the bottom layer of cake, the middle layer of soft rhubarb, and the top (awesome) layer of crumbles.
This was SO good. Honestly, it was the best coffee cake I’ve ever made.
Sadly, I only had one bite – it was destined to travel to Jim’s office. I also need to work this recipe up in a gluten free version because EVERYONE should get to eat Rhubarb Crumble Coffee Cake in the spring.
Don’t wait! Rhubarb season is very short. Get it before it’s gone!
Here’s the recipe – Adapted from the New York Times & Smitten Kitchen