Have I mentioned how much I love my sister?  She’s been not just my sister but my closest friend for lo these 40-(mumble-mumble) years that I’ve lived on this Earth.  We try to talk every week, we share a love of Target that knows no bounds, we can make each other laugh until we cry.  She adores murder mysteries, Van Morrison and the UGA Bulldogs – the last actually bordering on fanaticism.  Every year when I make my trip home to see family and friends, the mister and I make a point of spending a couple of days with them to see my niece, have a shop and just hang out for a visit.  And, as I’ve mentioned before, she keeps me in PEEPS.

To my knowledge, she has only one fault – she doesn’t like rhubarb, the lovely sour summertime treat.  So, I’m making it my goal in life to find one – just one – recipe that I think she’d like.  Something that will help her see how yummy this ridiculously pink stalk can be. 

I think this is it.  This is your basic coffee-cake composition with the fruit, a nice sponge and crumb topping.  Instead of a heavy cinnamon or other spice flavoring, this cake offsets the sourness of the rhubarb with the richness of vanilla – and is so lovely that even the most rhubarb-averse people like my sister will come back for seconds.  (The only downside of this recipe is that you feel like you use every bowl you own).

By the way – if you don’t own a digital scale, buy one!  I like Salter scales, but get one you like.  If you do a lot of baking, it’s better to cook by weight rather than volume, you get better, more consistent results.

Vanilla Rhubarb Cake

  • 275 g rhubarb, washed, dried, trimmed and cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 50 g sugar
  • 2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100 g all-purpose flour
  • 100 g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 75 g butter, room temperature
  • 50 g ground almonds
  • 50 g butter, melted
  • 25 g light brown sugar
  • 40 g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100 g all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare an 8″ square pan by buttering the sides and lining with parchment paper (I do a sheet that covers the bottom and comes up 2 sides so that you can use them as handles to lift out when the cake s done).

Starting from the bottom of the list, make the crumble that will go on top of the cake first – place the 25 g light brown sugar, 40 g sugar, pinch salt and 100 g flour into a bowl and toss together.  Melt the 50 g butter and add to the flour mixture with the 1 tsp vanilla.  Mix together until thoroughly combined, press down lightly and refrigerate while you work on the rest of the cake.

In a separate medium bowl, combine the chopped rhubarb with the 50 g sugar and 2 tsp flour and let it sit for 20 minutes or so.

In a large bowl, combine 100 g flour, 100 g sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt, then add the 75 g room temperature butter, using the edge of a wooden spoon to mash the butter into the flour until it starts looking like small pebbles.  Toss with the ground almonds.  Lastly, in a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, egg, yolk and 2 tsp vanilla extract until combined.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix about half-way before adding the rhubarb and finish mixing.  Pour into the prepared cake pan and top with the crumble before popping into the oven and baking for 45 minutes.