big crumb coffee cake with rhubarb

May 19, 2010

Well, you all had a lot of awesome suggestions as to what to make with rhubarb: rhubarb tea, rhubarb pie, rhubarb with lentils and sweet potatoes – the list went on!

It also turns out that Americans like to pair rhubarb with strawberry – not something I’d heard of before. We Brits haven’t caught onto this yet. I bet you always wanted to know that. I am full of random information about American vs English!

I did flirt with the idea of something savoury for a while but then my crazy sweet tooth got the better of me and I opted for this instead.

Big Crumb Coffee Cake with Rhubarb
from smitten kitchen


  • Butter for greasing pan

For the rhubarb filling:

  • 1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 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, toss rhubarb with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

2. To make crumbs, 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. Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix quickly until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds (this must all be so much easier if you have gadgets…I don’t own gadgets and my birthday isn’t until March. Curses!). 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.

I’ll be the first to admit that these pictures make the cake look more than a little crazy, and I’ll be totally honest, it was a little cray-cray.

But that’s my fault. Something happened to my “crumbs” and the desired “solid dough” appearance just did not materialize. I am guessing I needed some more melted butter but time was pressing on and so I made do and ended up with less crumb and more crumbly, sugary stuff.

It was still really bloody delicious though, which I hope this photo shows, at least a bit:

Even better on day two. Eaten straight from the pan with my boy, forks in hand. Love.

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