Rhubarb Big Crumb Coffee Cake

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Cakes / Fruit


I have a confession.  I am truly, horribly, terribly bad at guessing.  And, it’s not even relegated to one particular thing.  Movie quotes, song lyrics, someone’s age, even proportions, all of it I can never seem to get right.  Last weekend, when I picked up several stalks of rhubarb for this cake it came as no surprise when I was left with almost an entire pound of unused fruit.  Oops.  But my, what a glorious oops it turned out to be.  This is, hands down, one of the best things I think I’ve ever made.


One of my favorite things about baking is getting to watch people enjoy what I’ve made.  I am always fascinated to see what people’s favorite flavors end up being.  It never fails to surprise me.  An old co-worker of mine loved anything almond, my fiancé is wholly obsessed with chocolate and peanut butter and I myself go crazy for dense, fruity cakes.  So it should come as no surprise that this coffee cake is, at the very least, one of my top 5 favorite desserts.  The rhubarb is tart, the ginger adds depth and the cake is so moist it’s almost criminal.  It all combines to create something so fantastic I could not even get a photo of it before polishing off a very sizable piece.  I’d apologize, but I’m not even sorry in the slightest.

But wait, there is more.  If you miss out on rhubarb season, you don’t have to wait a full year to make this cake.  Any fruit would work  Blueberry, raspberry, sour cherry or any other tangy fruit will do.  Just remember to cut back on the sugar, what rhubarb requires to be palatable is quite more then most any other fruit.

*recipe by Smitten Kitchen


For the rhubarb filling
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crumbs
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 3/4 cups cake flour

For the cake
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.



Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside

To make crumbs in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside

To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, 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. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside

Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes

Cool completely before serving


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