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Joy of Baking

Rhubarb crumble cake

(Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe)
May 12, 2010

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Makes 1 deep 8-inch cake

Rhubarb in the market is a sign that spring fruits are about to arrive. As the warm weather progresses, we’ll start finding local strawberries and all kinds of berries, then peaches, plums, and other stone fruits. Rhubarb makes a fine cake. This one consists of three layers — cake topped by fruit, topped by crumble — and takes a little longer than a plain cake to bake (1 hour and 20 minutes). Allow plenty of time in the oven. Patience has its rewards.

RHUBARB

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1/2 pound (3 to 4 stalks) rhubarb, cut in 3/4-inch slices to make 2 cups
1. In a small bowl rub the sugar and orange rind together with your fingers.

2. Add the rhubarb, toss, and set aside.

CRUMBLE

1 cup flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. In a bowl, combine the flour, butter, brown sugar, and salt.

2. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs.

CAKE

Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch springform pan. Dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt to blend them.

3. In an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed for 2 minutes until light and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes more. Beat in the vanilla.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer set on low speed, beat in the flour mixture just until the dry ingredients are blended.

5. Add the milk and mix just until it is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and give the batter a final mix with a rubber spatula.

6. Spread the batter in the pan, smooth the top with the spatula.

7. Distribute the rhubarb over the batter. Spread the crumble over the rhubarb. Sprinkle the almonds on top.

8. Bake the cake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

9. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slide a knife around the edge of the pan and unlatch the sides. Lift off the rim. Let the cake cool completely. Sally Pasley Vargas