A Cake for Anytime, Anywhere: Rhubarb Anytime Cake
I named this next recipe “Rhubarb Anytime Cake” because in my research of recipes for something using rhubarb and yogurt, I came across rhubarb “snack cakes,” “breakfast cakes,” and of course, just “cakes”, but this beauty is one heck of a multitasker. Inspired by smitten kitchen‘s “snacking cake,” it’s perfect for breakfast, an afternoon pick-me-up, or some post-dinner sweetness. It’s pretty simple to put together, too. You just macerate the rhubarb (only, please don’t be tempted to add strawberries) with a little sugar and lemon for a few minutes while the batter whips up, then top with the fruit and a little crumble topping. Oh, and it has the most beautiful nooks and crannies. You just want to get up in there and crawl around in it.
See what I mean?
I am slightly ashamed to admit this, but this was a cake of necessity. Not that I needed to eat cake now, but that I needed to use up some yogurt and rhubarb nearing expiration. Have you ever had Noosa yogurt? Their lemon and strawberry rhubarb flavors are spectacular (as are all the others, but I love those the most). I had fresh rhubarb, as I am compelled to buy it any time its vibrant red and green stalks beckon from the produce section. I had designs to make a simple French yogurt cake, but this just kind of took over. I committed my signature move, which is planning and buying an ingredient with the intention of using it in a recipe and forgetting. In this case, I had planned to scatter some sliced almonds across the top crumble layer, but it didn’t happen. Next time I will (try to remember), in a gluten-free version with almond flour.
In Montana, the house we bought had a giant rhubarb patch in the backyard. In June, we harvested all the rhubarb and squirreled it away in the freezer so we could enjoy tasty treats all year long. One of my very favorite ways to use rhubarb is just to simmer chopped rhubarb with sliced strawberries and a few tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice. It slowly transforms into a brilliant pink compote that is dynamite spooned over a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. In the South, it can’t grow due to the searing temperatures, so I have to wait patiently until the spring when it pops up in stores in the South for just a few weeks. And this past Sunday, I had waited long enough.
Honestly, you could omit the crumb topping if you're short on time, and it would still be fantastic. Not that I'm saying you should, but what could be better than tender, buttery cake, topped with tart-sweet fruit? Exactly.
4cupsrhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch chunks on the bias
juice of half of a lemon
zest of a whole lemon
2eggs, room temperature
1stick of butter, softened
1 1/3cupsall-purpose flour
1(4 ounce) carton (high-quality) lemon yogurt
3tablespoonslight brown sugar
1/2stick of butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9X13 baking dish with butter or spray and line with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the edges. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, rhubarb and lemon juice and set aside to get happy. Beat the butter, remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating to incorporate in between each egg. Add yogurt and beat to incorporate. Scrape the sides of the bowl periodically. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to butter-sugar mixture gradually in third, beating after each addition until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading with a spatula into an even layer. Pour rhubarb and its juices over the batter and spread to even it out. In a small bowl, use your hands to squish up the butter and mix it into the flour and sugar, being careful to make sure no lumps of butter remain. You should be able to squish the crumb topping in your fist and have it hold together. Crumble the topping evenly over the rhubarb. Slide the cake into the oven and bake for 50 minutes. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean.