My introduction to rhubarb

I bought my first rhubarb at the market last month. By which I mean I have never had rhubarb before in my life. That’s a shame, considering sour cherries are one of my favorites, and rhubarb reminded me very strongly of that same sweet/tartness.

2012-06-07 20.45.42When I bought my first batch this year, I made rhubarb syrup, which was incredible, and incredibly easy. With my second batch, fate struck and one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, posted a recipe for rhubarb snacking cake, which looked too, too good and tasted even better.

Sadly rhubarb season appears to be over at the markets around Chicago, but I won’t be neglecting it next year!

2012-06-07 20.46.11

Usually I don’t like baking in summer (unless it’s baking myself on the beach). When fresh fruit is so good, and it’s already 90 degrees outside, it’s hard to justify turning my oven on. But I make a few exceptions: sour cherry tart (a post on that to come shortly), homemade buns, and now this. Thankfully there was a string of cooler days earlier this month so my A/C didn’t have to do too much overtime.

Rhubarb Streusel Cake
Barely modified from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe

1 pound-ish rhubarb, leaves and ends trimmed off, and cut into 1/2-inch lengths (on the diagonal if you’re feeling fancy)
2/3 cup sugar
Juice from one lemon (zest will be used in the cake batter)

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (I replaced half with a whole grain flour mix)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt (less if you use salted butter)
Lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup Greek yogurt

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

Stir together rhubarb, lemon juice, and sugar and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper. My experience is that cutting one sheet long enough to fit the length of the pan, and then creasing the folds in the corners works fine and saves me paper. Lightly buttering the pan before laying down the paper also helps it stick.

Beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at at time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each egg. Whisk together flour, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon table salt and ground ginger together in a small bowl. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the batter and stir until just combined. Add half the yogurt, then the second third of the flour mixture, then the remaining yogurt, and finally the rest of the flour mixture, mixing between each addition until just combined.

Spread the batter into the pan in an even layer. Pour the rhubarb mixture (including any juice that accumulated in the bowl) over the batter, spreading it into an even layer.

Combine flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon, then stir in the melted butter until crumbly, and sprinkle generously over the cake.

Bake cake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. The cake is done when it’s golden brown and a tester comes out mostly clean (if a little of the rhubarb sticks, that’s ok, but the tester shouldn’t have wet batter on it). Cool in the pan on a rack.

The cake should come out of the pan and detach from the parchment paper relatively easily once it’s cool. Best the day it’s baked with a little dollop of lightly whipped cream, but mine lasted 3 days on the counter (not sure if it could have lasted longer, it was eaten too fast). Only challenge I have is that I have yet to figure out how to keep streusel topping from getting soggy after a day. Anyone have any suggestions?


7 thoughts on “My introduction to rhubarb

  1. Hi Christina,
    Aunt Sandy took the liberty of sending me your BLOG and I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your inputs. At least this way we can keep better tract of you since we don’t get too many emails. I’ve never blogged so I don’t even know if this will be too long of a reply but I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed reading all about what you’re doing.
    Love you, gram HB


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