Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rhubarb Streusel Tea Cakes

Rhubarb is a comfort food to me.... The taste transports me back to childhood and the excitement when my Grandma would make "rhubarb sauce", which we ate in bowls with a splash of cream.   Grandma also makes a mean rhubarb custard pie that is positively out of this world.

I was super excited to find Rhubarb at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago as rhubarb is not an ingredient or flavor that is very familiar in the South.  I set about making some poached rhubarb similar to my Grandma's kind, except I mixed it with vanilla greek yogurt instead of cream.  I didn't have enough left to make a pie, but I stumbled upon a rhubarb tea cake recipe with a streusel topping on and decided it looked like a great one to try.

Tea Cakes sound fancy, but really, they're similar to muffins, only shorter and minus the lining paper (though I suppose you could use the papers if you like). They were super easy to make.  Even more importantly, they were a hit with my class at Church (generally speaking, it's not good for me to bake and keep things at home because I eat them).  

One thing I greatly appreciate about is the comment feature.  I read through the comments and made a few recommended adjustments.  I only wish I could have added a little more rhubarb.....

A couple baking and yield notes:

  • The flavor of these little cake improve with age, so wait until the following day to consume them, if you can.  
  • I also chose to use streusel both in the bottom of the muffin pan AND on top, because hey, who doesn't love the streusel part of a muffin!  
  • I used a sillicone muffin pan that was lightly sprayed with pan spray. I had absolutely no trouble at all getting mine out of the pan in one piece.  
  • I ended up with extra batter, but didn't want to wait to reuse my one and only muffin pan, so I baked the extra in a non-stick tart pan instead.  

Rhubarb Streusel Cakes
Gourmet Magazine, April 2003,
Yields 12 individual Cakes

For the Streusel {which I added on bottom and top and used a commenter's variation}
1/3 c brown sugar
3/4 c Oatmeal
1/3 c flour
cinnamon, to taste
salt, to taste {really important addition}
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For the Cake Batter
1 1/4 c AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
generous sprinkle of cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 c) unsalted butter, at room temp
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla {or vanilla bean paste, if you've got it}
1/2 cup whole milk {though I used skim because it was what I had}
3 cups chopped rhubarb {I only had 2 cups, so that was all I used}

1.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Generously butter muffin cups and top of pan {I used cooking spray in a silicone pan}.

2.  Make streusel topping:  Combine the flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, salt, and cinnamon.  Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture forms small clumps.

3.  Make batter:  Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in 2 batches, beginning and ending with flour. Mix only until just combined.  Fold in rhubarb {my rhubarb was frozen so I added it frozen to the batter} by hand.

4.  Assembly:  Sprinkle a little streusel in the bottom of each muffin space.  Add a scoop of batter and top with more streusel.  Be careful not to fill cups too full.

5.  Bake in the center of the oven until the tops and golden and a tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean, about 22 to 25 minutes.  Cool for 3 minutes then loosen the edges of the cakes.  Remove cakes from the pan and put on rack to cool slightly.  Store in an airtight container.

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