Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rhubarb! - Who knew?

Rhubarb is one of those weird plants that takes a whole year to grow. My dad planted some in his garden last year and I finally had some to bake with this year! I also never knew that the rhubarb leaves were this huge! This is easily my favorite time of year for cooking because of the ability to pick fresh vegetables and fruit to cook with right from home. Rather than the usual strawberry-rhubarb pie, I went in search of a more creative use for these rhubarb stalks.

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake

2 cups sliced rhubarb
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 tsp lemon zest
1 TB lemon juice
2 TB cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the filling ingredients and stir to combine. Let cook over medium heat until the mixture starts to break down and thicken, almost to the consistency of a cooked pie filling or jam.
For me, this took probably 10 minutes.
Take off of the heat and let cool while you're working on the cake mixture.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp each baking soda and baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 TB ground flaxseed
1/4 cup chilled butter
1/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt
3/4 cup soured milk/buttermilk (as you can see, if you don't have buttermilk, add a TB of fresh lemon juice to milk)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl - flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon and flaxseed. I used wheat flour - I swear you can't even tell! You'll want to cut in the butter using a pastry cutter which will create a sort of crumbly flour mixture.
In a separate larger mixing bowl whisk together the yogurt, milk, egg and vanilla. If you don't have buttermilk on hand you can add about a TB of fresh lemon juice to the 3/4 cup of milk and let sit for a few mins. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet mixture and stir together until just moistened. You don't want to over mix - similar to when you make pancakes or muffins.

1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts), chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix together the flour, sugar, oats, nuts and cinnamon using a fork to break down and really mix in the brown sugar. Melt the butter and add this to the mix, mixing together with a fork until the texture is like a streusel topping, and crumbly.

Now it's time to bring everything together and assemble your cake! Add about 2/3 of the batter to a buttered glass baking dish. On top of that spoon out your cooled down strawberry rhubarb filling which will create a fruity layer inside the cake. Add dollops of the rest of the cake batter, as you can see to the right here, until the batter is completely added to the baking dish. On top of this you'll add the streusel topping.

350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. At 30 I checked it and it definitely wasn't done, so I gave it another 15 and still wasn't sure. I turned the oven off and let the cake sit in there for another 3 mins and then finally took it out to cool.
I realized this cake cooked a bit like banana bread - the outside cooked much faster than the center. While I thought that the 45 minutes was enough, I realized as I cut into it that the center was still pretty gooey. I should've given the cake at least another 5 minutes if not more. Lesson learned here? Insert your toothpick into the center, not an edge, to be sure that it's done cooking before taking it out. I loved how much the rhubarb flavor came through on this!

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