Main crop rhubarb is everywhere right now, it’s huge umbrella leaves weighing down thick, green and red stalks. In a month or so, the stalks will taste bitter and old, so now is the time to pick it and use it.
This cake is a superb way to do just that. It’s excellent with coffee.
Start by chopping half a pound of rhubarb and tossing it with a quarter cup of golden caster sugar, two teaspoons of cornflour and half a teaspoon of ground ginger.
Make a ‘big crumb’ topping by whisking a third of a cup of dark brown sugar and a third of a cup of golden caster sugar together with half a cup of melted butter, a large pinch of salt and half a teaspoon of ground ginger. When the mixture is light and fluffy, sift in one and three quarter cups of plain flour and mix until you form a firm dough.
To make the batter, stir a third of a cup of sour cream, a large egg, an extra egg yolk and two teaspoons of vanilla extract and set aside.
In a larger bowl, preferably one that fits into a mixer of some sort, mix a cup of seived plain flour, half a cup of golden caster sugar sugar, half a teaspoon each of bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and a very large pinch of salt, about a quarter of a teaspoon.
When everything is mixed together, add six teaspoons of very soft butter and a tablespoon of the sour cream concoction and mix thoroughly before adding the rest of the cream mix in two batches. If the batter seems too thick, another aplash of sour cream won’t hurt.
Pour the batter into a greased baking tin, about eight or ten inches or so square, and tip the rhubarb over the top, using a spoon to gently push the chunks deep into the batter.
Add the big crumb topping by breaking off big chunks of the dough, maybe a half inch across and sprinkle them over the cake. Don’t be too fussy about this – just crumble the topping over in a rustic way. Some bits will be small, some will be large.
Bake in an oven preheated to 160c for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a knife plunged into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool, then dust with too much icing sugar.
This recipe is from the New York Times, via Smitten Kitchen, which goes some way to explaining the use of ‘cups’ as a unit of measure throughout. For us Europeans, a cup is 240ml of volume, but it’s easier just to find a measuring jug with an American scale on it.
Life’s too short to do maths.