I’m Baaaack! Oh yeah, and I’m also in Alaska.

So!  For those of you who don’t know, I am spending the summer in Anchorage, Alaska.  I don’t even have to change the theme of the blog, because being in Alaska almost makes me feel like I’m still abroad.  Seriously, it’s borderline a foreign country here.  It is sunny around 20 hours a day (or at least the sun doesn’t set til 2 am, sometimes it’s actually rainy. Actually more than just sometimes.)

But those sunny days are totally worth it!

Anchorage is on the coast, so the sun lights up the ocean to the west and the mountains to the east, and there are flowers growing everywhere!  Speaking of things growing, I made the exciting discovery the other day of some rhubarb growing in the yard of the house the bf and I are housesitting.  Everyone in Anchorage loves to grow things, just like they love to bike everywhere and have an excessive amount of outdoor festivals.  I must say, these Alaskan folk really know how to make the most out of summertime.

So, back to rhubarb.  Or have I even mentioned rhubarb yet?  Here is another picture.

Weirdly, I had never eaten rhubarb before this past weekend.

I had, however, heard of its legendary power to pair with sweet delicious dough and cinnamon-flavored streusel topping to make something of beauty.

A crumb cake.  Can anything be more magical?  So simple, yet so satisfying. Pairs perfectly with a hot cup of milky coffee (hence the name, duh) on a Sunday morning, or as an after-dinner treat. I could wax on for hours, but I won’t, because no one would find that interesting.


Recipe adapted from Smittenkitchen.com

Ingredients:

Butter for greasing pan

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 (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups cake flour (I was out and used all-purpose and it worked great)

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (ditto on the all-purpose flour–worked just fine)
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.

1. 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.

2. To make crumbs [this step now updated, see comment #150] 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.

3. 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.

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

5. 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.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

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