I was in Leeds for Easter weekend and I found fresh Yorkshire rhubarb at Blacker Hall Farm. Field-grown rhubarb is in peak season in April and May, so it was the perfect time to finally try it!
Rhubarb (usually considered to be a vegetable, though in the US it is listed as fruit) is cultivated in China for medicine purposes, but the plant's stalks are usually cooked with sugar and used in pies and other desserts.
I asked Twitter what to do with it and the unanimous response was Rhubarb Crumble. I searched for recipes, but wasn't convinced, as I wanted to bake a cake that could be easily transported and eaten on-the-go, rather than a crumble that needs to be eaten hot at home.
And then, I found the perfect recipe in my favourite cooking blog, the Smitten Kitchen: a "Big Crumble" Coffee Cake with Rhubarb.
For the rhubarb filling: * 250gr rhubarb * 1/4 cup white sugar * 2 tbsp corn flour * 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
For the crumbs: * 1/3 cup dark brown sugar * 1/3 cup white sugar * 1 tbsp ground cinnamon * 1/2 tbsp ground ginger * 1/2 tsp salt * 1/2 cup butter, melted * 1 3/4 cups plain flour
For the cake: * 1/3 cup sour cream * 1 egg * 1 egg yolk * 2 tsp vanilla extract * 1 cup plain flour * 1/2 cup white sugar * 1/2 tsp baking soda * 1/2 tsp baking powder * 1/4 tsp salt * 6 tbsp softened butter
How to prepare the rhubarb: remove any leaves from the rhubarb stalks and discard, as they are toxic and should not be consumed. At one end of the stalk, cut just under the skin. Pull the piece down the stalk to remove the strings. Continue until all of the strings are removed. Wash stalks and slice them into 2cm pieces; toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.
For the crumbs: in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a wooden spoon. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using an electric whisker, 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. Beat for 30 seconds and add remaining sour cream.
Pre-heat oven to 160 °C. Grease a 20x20cm baking pan with butter. Pour 1/2 of the cake mixture into the pan, then spoon over the rhubarb. Pour the other 1/2 of cake batter over the rhubarb.
Using your fingers, break crumble mixture and sprinkle over the cake.
Bake cake for about 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
We ate the cake as a dessert after dinner, serving it with warm custard cream.
The next morning we had it for breakfast, with a good cup of coffee from Coming Soon, where we had gone for an espresso tasting. It was unbelievably good in both ways!
PS: it is not hard to make this cake, but it does require a few hours to prepare, cook and clean the mess afterwards!