last spring my friend gave me some rhubarb from her mom’s garden. i love rhubarb. its sweet and acidic at the same time – it makes your mouth pucker like cranberries or the tannins from a good wine. i have really fond memories of picking fresh rhubarb from my grandma’s back yard when i was a kid. she had two patches; my sister and i would dig around for the stalks that were deep pink and collect them, wash them off with the hose, and then eat a couple of stalks dipped in a bowl of sugar before she took the rest to make a delicious pot of strawberry rhubarb compote for an ice cream topping. this bag of rhubarb my friend gave me went into the freezer to stay fresh, and i swore it would only be in there for a couple of days – i was dead set on making strawberry rhubarb hand pies with it. but then the weather started to get colder and colder, and the colder it got the more i procrastinated. by the time i was reminded that there was a bag of rhubarb in the bottom of the freezer, it was the dead of winter, and i couldn’t even imagine the blasphemy of cooking something that was meant to be eaten in green grass with the smell of fresh flowers around.
so finally, here comes a day worthy of summer, and i remember that i have this bag of rhubarb in my freezer then suddenly all i’m craving is a moist rhubarb crumb cake, laced with spices that remind me of my grandma’s backyard. unfortunately, my procrastination bit me in the ass as procrastination so often does and the rhubarb i had turned to complete mush the second it thawed. the next best thing i had in my fridge at the time was a pint of fresh strawberries. i figured it was as good of a substitute as any, and tossed them into this cake. crumbly and soft with fresh bursts of strawberries it almost satisfied my craving – but as soon as rhubarb is in season again i’m rushing to the market to buy some and recreate this.
Strawberry Crumb Cake
*adapted from Canadian Living website – makes 1 9 inch cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups chopped strawberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts or almonds, sliced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, melted
1. Grease 9-inch springform pan; set aside (you can use a regular cake pan, a springform pan is really handy for keeping the topping in tact and for presentation)
2. In bowl, combine brown sugar, chopped hazelnuts, flour and cinnamon. Using fork, stir in butter until crumbly; set aside.
3. In large bowl, beat butter with brown sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla.
4. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of buttermilk. Fold in chopped strawberries. Scrape into prepared pan; sprinkle with topping.
5. Bake in centre of 350°F oven until cake tester inserted in centre of cake comes out clean, about 1-1/4 hours. Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Remove side of pan.
i served it with leftover mascarpone whipped cream i had from the waffles that morning and it was fantastic