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I absolutely LOVE rhubarb. It's one of those underrated ingredients that I just never use enough of, especially at this time of year when it's plentiful and overrunning gardens everywhere! Rhubarb is just such a delicious addition to cakes, pies, muffins, jams...the list is endless, and it's such a summery fruit! I have childhood memories of harvesting the rhubarb from my mom's garden and dipping the sour stalks in sweet brown sugar with my cousins. So when there's fresh rhubarb around, it's a sure sign for me that summer is on its way!! And who wouldn't be happy about that??
This cake is so easy to make and it's perfect for beginning bakers because it's really hard to mess up. It's tender and moist with a sweet and crunchy streusel topping with just a hint of warmth from a little cinnamon. My grandma used to make different versions of this cake all summer long at the lake using whatever fruit she had on hand of course, so making streusel cakes likes this always makes me think of her. I know you're going to love this recipe!
Rhubarb Streusel Cake (serves 12-18)
This recipe is one I came up with by adapting two recipes I've made many times: joyofbaking.com's Blueberry Cake and Chef Anna Olson's Raspberry Ricotta Buckle.
For the cake:
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream (full fat is best)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter (for greasing the cake pan)
2 1/2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
For the streusel topping:
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
4 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash 3-4 stalks of rhubarb and chop them into bite sized pieces (you'll need about 2 and a half cups of chopped rhubarb to cover the cake.). Set them aside in a bowl while you prepare the cake batter.
Feel free to use a hand mixer if you prefer.
Add the eggs and the vanilla and beat them in on medium speed until the mixture is smooth. It's a good idea to scrape down the bowl periodically to make sure everything is incorporated evenly.
Add the milk and sour cream and beat in these ingredients on low speed until they're combined.
To a separate bowl add the flour, the baking powder and the salt and mix these ingredients together with a fork or a wire whisk. Once they're all incorporated, dump the flour mixture into the bowl of the stand mixer with the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and watch the batter come together. As soon as you see the batter form with streaks of flour throughout, turn off the mixer and remove the bowl.
Over-mixing at this stage can cause an overly dense and dry cake with large air bubbles, which you definitely don't want. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl by hand and gently fold in the remaining flour. Be sure to stop folding as soon as everything is combined.
Grease a 9x13 rectangular cake pan with some butter and pour the batter into the pan, using the spatula to push the batter into the corners and even out the surface. Don't worry, the batter will seem thick but it's supposed to be like that.
A glass pan is best for this cake. The one I use is vintage - it used to belong to my Grandma, but you can purchase them almost anywhere.
Spread the rhubarb over the top of the batter.
In a clean bowl mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon for the streusel topping. Add in the melted butter and mix everything together with a fork until the mixture becomes crumbly.
Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the cake and the rhubarb, making sure to spread it at evenly as possible and into all the corners.
Bake the cake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 47-50 minutes. When it's finished baking the topping will be slightly browned on top, the rhubarb will be bubbly, and when you insert a toothpick into the centre of the cake it will come out clean.
Try to let the cake cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it...if you can wait that long! This cake is so moist and the tang of the rhubarb is perfectly balanced out by the sweetness of the streusel topping. Desserts like this stand the test of time, and for good reason. It just doesn't get any better than good old butter and sugar and really, why would you even try to modernize something so simple and tasty? Sometimes you just need a good, old-fashioned cake like Grandma used to make!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know in the comments below, what's your favourite old-fashioned, tried and true dessert?
Like this recipe? You'll love these Old Fashioned Cinnamon Sugar Baked Donuts or this Blueberry Nectarine Cobbler!