Rhubarb Coffee Cake

June 5, 2012

Minneapolis has reached that glorious point in the year where we’re having proper hot days. Sunny skies, warm air, endless possibilities. It makes me kind of ecstatic. It’s a little silly, but if you grew up in predictably unpredictable England, you understand.

It’s no secret that I love a good list. Inspired by Kimberly I started noting down my plans for the summer. It’s my favourite kind of list to make; what kinds of fun do you want to have this summer? Where do you want to go? (Side note: yes, I am whimsical and sentimental.)

This summer I must: take long bike rides to faraway places; go berry picking; lie on the lake beach with a book; eat pizza outside; take random road trips; swim in cold lakes; go camping; eat a million ice cream cones; bbq in the backyard; and eat tacos, tacos, tacos.

Also? I want to bake sweet, fruity desserts to enjoy with friends. This might be the perfect thing for summer. The cake is light and sweet-as-can-be, covered with a warm layer of soft rhubarb, and topped with crunchy streusel that has just a hint of saltiness to balance out all the sweet. All delivered in a hand-held square. This cake got me some serious high fives. I really think you should make it.

It would be a brilliant thing to bring to a bbq or something like that – easy, small, and grab-able. As Martha says, you could try doing a combo of strawberry and rhubarb but we had an abundance of the ‘barb on hand. I’m looking forward to adapting it to the other fruits of the season though – blueberries would be just spot on.

Now tell me – what does your summer list look like?

Rhubarb Coffee Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart


For the streusel

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the cake

  • 1/2 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter and flour parchment and pan, tapping out excess flour.
  2. Make the streusel: Whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Make the cake: In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb chunks, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup flour. In another medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time (add a touch of the flour mixture if it begins to curdle). Beat in the vanilla, then the flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with rhubarb and top with streusel.
  4. Bake the cake until the crumb topping is golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake from pan. Cut into 16 bars and serve. Enjoy!
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