Strawberries and rhubarb are such a powerful combination. They compliment each other in such a perfect way, it is hard to compete with anything else. In pie form, I've tried to pair rhubarb with raspberries, and I've also tried rhubarb on its' own. Each time, I am delighted with with the sour components, and subtle sweetness that rhubarb offers, but I am never as impressed as when it is mixed harmoniously with strawberries in a warm and flaky crust. Since rhubarb has made its way into the markets here in Seattle, I have made two strawberry rhubarb pies. To be honest, it's really only been a few weeks, so you can imagine that my diet has been heavily influenced by this. How much pie is too much, I asked myself a few days back? The answer should always be 'never', but at the rate I'm going, I'll be sick of it by mid June. Rather than completely devoid my life of this simple pleasure, I turned a problem into a solution, took those strawberries and rhubarb on my counter and made them into a cake!
I was about to bore you with a rant about homeownership, the joys, the stresses, but then I realized that you deserve more. So now we will discuss cake! Not the dark rich chocolate kind, although that would be nice. Not the Funfetti magical rainbow unicorn kind, that looks oh so beautiful, but will make you want to pull out your hair during the process of making. I am talking about the simple, sweet, casual, perfectly acceptable for breakfast kind of cake. Coffee cake. A cake that lacks any flavor resembling coffee, but one that should always be paired with a cup of coffee to balance out the sweetness. Something that I only discovered a few years back.
This cake is truly spectacular. After a few tweaks and adjustments, I think I have finally come up with a cake version of the strawberry rhubarb pie. This cake is moist, with a delicate crumb. It has a slight sour component from the buttermilk that is fantastic. The layer of strawberries and rhubarb turn into a nice thick pie filling type texture once mixed with sugar and cornstarch, that becomes dispersed into the cake batter once baked in such a perfect way. The sugar crumble topping adds a nice layer of crunch and sweetness to each bite, that really brings it all together. Brent says it is the best coffee cake he has ever had, something he says when he really like a thing. I am pretty happy with the results myself, although, I am nowhere near the level of coffee cake connoisseur that he is. I had a slice this morning, with a pot of mint tea. Relaxing on the porch with the sounds from the neighbors children playing, birds chirping, grass being mowed. I am in a real happy place right now, and this cake has made things even better.
STRAWBERRY RHUBARB COFFEE CAKE
makes one 9x13 inch cake
Strawberry Rhubarb Filling:
2 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped
2 1/2 cups rhubarb (3 med stalks), chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tbsp orange juice
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cold (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
For the filling:
In a large saucepan, combine the strawberries, rhubarb, and orange juice. Cover and heat on medium for 5 minutes to soften the fruit.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, corn starch, and cinnamon. Add to the fruit and combine. Turn the heat to low, and continue to cook for a few minutes, stirring continuously, until the juices thicken. Remove from the heat.
For the crumble:
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugars, and salt. Cut in the butter, with a pastry blender or your hands, until the butter is in small pea size pieces, and the mixture is crumbly.
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, until it resembles coarse crumb.
In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine.
Pour half of the batter into a 9x13 inch pan. Layer the strawberry rhubarb mixture on top. Pour the rest of the batter on top. Finish by topping with the crumble.
Bake for 50 - 60 min. Or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 1 hour. Can be stored in the fridge for a week.