I walk to the garden past hedges heavy with fragrant with wild roses and awash with cow parsley. Blackbirds, wrens, robins and song thrushes fill the air with glorious song. The early morning sun catches glittering drops of dew suspended in fragile spiderwebs turning grass into a field of diamonds. A walk of happiness to the garden to gather rhubarb.

This Rhubarb cake is one you make with pleasurable ease. The tactile pleasure of combining the crumble by hand. The lemony perfume of adding the sumac. The sharp tang of grating the lemon into brown sugar then rubbing the zest through the sugar with your finger tips. A whip of eggs. An easy pour of melted butter. A gently folding of flour and a delicate hand with the rhubarb.

This is a cake that sits often under a glass dome in my kitchen. As the season changes the cake takes on a different persona. Sometimes chopped pears with a dash of almond flavouring. The stone fruit comes into season I add peaches, apricots or deep purple plums and serve the cake with whipped cream. Apples and cinnamon cake generously presented with a wedge of crumbly wedge of old cheddar cheese; the flavour of autumn.

Rhubarb Crumb Cake with Sumac Crumble
: cake
Cuisine: dessert
: 8
A quick to make rich cake with rhubarb and topped with a buttery crumb topping.
  • ½ cup (63 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (50 g) light brown sugar firmly packed
  • ¼ cup (23 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tsp dried sumac (or 1 tsp grated lemon)
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ cup (55 g) unsalted butter, VERY SOFT
  • 1 LEMON
  • ¾ CUP (150 g) light brown sugar , firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • ¾ cup (165 g) sour cream (room temperature)
  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1½ cps (160g) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ cups (150g) fresh or frozen chopped rhubarb, in ½-inch pieces
  1. Place rack in center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350F. When oven comes to temperature wait 15 minutes before putting cake in.
  2. Butter a 9-inch round pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  4. Combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, sumac, and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and work everything together with your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed and crumbs form. Set aside.
  6. Zest the lemon directly into the mixing bowl containing the sugar. Using your fingers rub the zest into the brown sugar mixture with your fingers. Your warm hands help release the aroma of the zest and infuse the sugar. (always a good idea to add lemon zest in the recipe to the sugar when baking)
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time whisking until pale and foamy, - about one or two minutes.
  8. Add the sour cream, butter, vanilla and salt and whisk until smooth and emulsified.
  9. Add the flour, baking power and baking soda to the bowl. Whisk until ALMOST combined, then switch to a rubber spatula for the last few strokes. The batter will be thick. Fold in the rhubarb.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles. Smooth the top of the batter with an offset spatula
  11. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the batter.
  12. Bake the cake until puffed and golden and a test inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 go 60 minutes.
  13. Set the pan on a rack to cool before removing the cake.
  14. Store the cake, well wrapped at room temperature for up to two days.
  16. You can bake this cake in an 8-inch square baking pan.
  17. Gild the lily; serve the cake with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream

I’ve adapted this recipe from the book Snacking Cakes by Yossy Arefi

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