A Quick Rhubarb Coffee Cake


Rhubarb season has started early this year, so I had enough for some kind of coffeecake to take to Easter breakfast along with the hot cross buns. I was looking for something easy and quick and wanted to try a recipe without the support of strawberries or other fruit. Scrolling across the web, I found a much copied recipe from the New York Times ( http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/06/dining/061arex.html?_r=1 ) but it was a little more elaborate than I had hoped.

Underneath, it was very similar to the streusel kind of coffeecakes I have made for years. Two recipes from an old (over 50 years old) Better Homes and Garden cookbook have been the basis for these quick breads using blueberry, peach, and just about any other fruit combination you might think of. Surely I could adapt this coffeecake receiving rave reviews to my easier version.

I kept the mixing of the rhubarb with some sugar and cornstarch, avoiding the tendency of fruit to sometimes leave sticky, gummy places in the dough. The original did not mix the rhubarb into the cake, instead spreading it over the top, with a saved cup of batter to be spread “evenly” over the top. Since the “evenness” of that last step has always been a problem for me, I decided to just mix the rhubarb mixture into the batter and spread the whole thing into the pan at once.

Though most of my other fruit coffeecakes stick with cinnamon or perhaps a little nutmeg or mace, the ginger was just right with the rhubarb, so that stayed in. And the cake is just a little lighter with yogurt instead of sour cream.

The result was wonderful, though I would go to a 9 inch square pan next time, making the pieces a little shorter even though it would spread the crumbs out just a little more. My own rhubarb is mostly green, so I imagine that the newer varieties that are much redder and sweeter would have even more color.

The resulting cake was super moist, dense and sweet. For those with lots of rhubarb in the backyard, this is a nice addition to your collection of recipes using the “free” fruit. 

Crumbly Rhubarb Coffee Cake 

Fruit Mixture
2 c (8 oz) diced rhubarb
1/4 c sugar
2 t cornstarch
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t cinnamon

Cake Batter
1/3 c butter, melted
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 egg
1/2 c plain non-fat yogurt
2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda

1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 c brown sugar
3/4 c flour
2 t cinnamon
1 t ginger

1.   Toss together the rhubarb, quarter cup sugar, cornstarch, ginger, and cinnamon until well mixed. Set aside while making the batter.
2.  Cream together the butter, sugar, egg, yogurt, and vanilla.
3.  Sift the flour and baking powder and soda together and add alternately to the batter with the rhubarb mixture, stirring gently but well after each addition.
4.  With a fork, mix the butter, brown sugar, and spices until well blended. Add the flour and continue to mix just until large crumbs form.
5.  Generously oil an 8 inch square pan. Pour in the batter and spread evenly. Using your fingers, distribute the crumbs evenly over the top, pressing them into the batter just slightly.
6.  Bake at 350 (325 for a glass pan) for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
7.  Allow to cool. If desired, dust the top generously with powdered sugar.

Makes about 16 servings.

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