It’s either almost or already rhubarb time, depending on where you’re located, and this here crumb cake is the perfect vehicle for your first batch. I’m a big fan of rhubarb in pies and galettes, but I also love it in a cake like this one, as sometimes it’s nice to take a break from rolling out dough, crimping edges, etc. The cake is easy to make and is studded with slightly sweet/slightly tart pockets of rhubarb – and if your rhubarb is bright red, those little pockets are awfully colorful as well . . . The topping is a thick delicious mess of large butter-y sweet crumbs, as I’m partial to crumbs of the over-sized variety. Finally, if rhubarb is just not your thing, or you are unable to find it, but are eager to eat crumb cake ASAP, you can substitute really any fruit of your choosing, or make a straight up crumb cake sans fruit. To take a peek at the original blog post for my rhubarb crumb cake, and to peruse my collection of original recipes, click here:
FOR THE CRUMB:
- 2 sticks salted butter, cold (if using unsalted, add 1/2 tsp salt)
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
FOR THE CAKE:
- 4 cups chopped rhubarb (chopped into 1/2-to-1-inch pieces)
- 1 Tbsp arrowroot
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 stick, unsalted butter, room temp
- 4 Tbsp oil (such as canola)
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
preheat the oven to 375 degrees. spray and paper and spray again a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. set aside.
TO MAKE THE CRUMB:
cut the butter into small cubes. set aside.
place all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine. add the butter, and using your hands, incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients, until a variety of different sized crumbs form (some big, some not) and there is no more loose flour or sugar. place the crumb in the refrigerator.
TO MAKE THE CAKE:
place the rhubarb in a medium sized bowl and lightly spray with cooking spray. toss with the arrowroot and 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour until all of the rhubarb is coated. place in the freezer til ready to use. if cooking spray is not your thing, you can skip it. i call for it, as it helps the flour to stick to the rhubarb and thus prevents the rhubarb from sinking.
place the remaining all-purpose flour, cake flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.
cut the butter into pieces, and place in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. cream the butter on medium-high until smooth. stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, reduce the speed to medium, and add the oil and vanilla and cream until incorporated, add the sugars gradually, stopping the mixer and scraping down the bowl periodically, until all of the sugar is added.
increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high, and cream the butter, oil, vanilla, and sugar for at least 5 minutes until quite light and fluffy, stopping and scraping occasionally. reduce the speed to medium, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the dry ingredients in three installments, alternating with the buttermilk, and beginning and ending with the dry. scrape the bowl after the second addition of the dry. stop creaming all together when the batter still has a bit of dry flour throughout.
remove the bowl from the mixer and add the rhubarb. using a rubber spatula fold the rhubarb into the batter. transfer the batter to your prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. remove the crumbs from the freezer, and cover the cake with them, pinching the crumbs between your fingers to form assorted-sized balls of buttery/flour-y deliciousness.
place the cake in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. reduce the heat to 350 and bake for about 40 minutes more, or until a toothpick comes out with only a moist crumb or two. rotating the cake halfway through the baking time.
let the cake come to room temp before slicing it and serving. or don’t, and serve it warm with a dollop of whipped cream. the cake is very moist and will last on the counter for a few days, tightly wrapped. the slices also freeze well and can be reheated in a 350-degree oven, wrapped in tinfoil.