This is a story of trial. And error. But mostly of trial–the harrowing journey any idea takes from my brain into reality and finally into the mouths of roommates and neighbors and general squatters who just seem to be constantly showing up. For more info on my new digs for the summer, check out my COMPLETELY different (but still food-themed) blog http://www.tumblr.com/blog/whatlathamate.
Our summer house is definitely geared towards a college crowd. There is an ant infestation. The basement floods every time we do laundry. Yesterday someone broke the oven handle by lightly grazing it. And our recycling container is perpetually overflowing with beer bottles. In short; it’s the life, at least for a little while. And my life right now includes waking up at 5 am to bake bread and cookies at a beautiful farm in the mountains, and occasionally watch piglets being born. Oh, and free cheese!
Summer means more free time to try new things, follow your dreams, etc. I did both in this recipe, with mixed results. In the spirit of experimentation, I made three versions of these rhubarb walnut cakes, some of which worked better than other but all of which were eaten in a single sitting.
This recipe is based off a Spiced Plum Streusel Cake from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert. I was feeling nostalgic for my times in Alaska last summer, so I subbed in rhubarb and used walnuts which I found in a cabinet in place of almonds (thank you, previous tenants! I hope you didn’t have any serious diseases!). I made half of the batter into mini-cakes using muffin tins, and the other half became a pseudo-upside-down cake. While I have a soft spot for upside-down cakes and the ta-da moment when you flip them over, the original recipe took the literal cake—rhubarb compote + crumb on top of the cake is definitely the winner.
My recommendation? Bake this in a bundt pan or muffin tins, and treat it like a delicious, buttery, summery coffee cake. But however you make it, I don’t think anyone will complain.
Spiced Rhubarb Streusel Cake
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tablespoon AP flour
- 1 tablespoon wheat flour
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom
- 1 1/2 T unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 cups rhubarb (about three large stalks), chopped
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 T butter
- pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan, or 12 muffin tins, depending on your preference.
Make the compote:
Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add sugar, butter, and rhubarb, and cook for about seven minute, or until rhubarb is soft and melty. Set aside and let cool.
Make the streusel:
In a medium bowl, combine the walnuts, both flours, the brown sugar, the spices, and the melted butter. Toss the mixture with your fingers until evenly moistened. Set aside.
Make the cake:
In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or by hand, as I did), beat together the 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until completely incorporated. Stir in half the flour mixture, followed by the 1 teaspoon vanilla and the buttermilk, and finally, the remaining flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Distribute the rhubarb compote on top. Sprinkle the streusel over the compote.
Bake until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 55 minutes. Let cool completely.
Run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Release the sides of the springform pan. Serve with whipped cream, creme fraiche, or nada.