almond-rhubarb cake

Spring was slow to arrive to the Midwest this year, and the spring crops accordingly late. So while others have moved on to the abundance of strawberries, it’s still pretty much all asparagus and rhubarb here in Chicago. I was thrilled to finally be able to pick up some rhubarb at the market, with little more of a plan than “bake it in something.”

This recipe is inspired by a recipe in Flo Braker’s Baking for All Occasions which pairs rhubarb and almond, but adapted from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen’s rhubarb snacking cake. My adaptations are mostly in flavor, swapping ginger and lemon for almond extract and almonds in the crumb topping.

Rhubarb is the star of this cake, jammy after cooking and punctuating every bite. For those not use to eating rhubarb away from its usual strawberry partner, rhubarb is tart almost to the point of sour, a bit reminiscent of sour candy. You can up the sugar in this recipe by a third cup or so to mute the tartness if that alarms you.

almond-rhubarb cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen, original recipe here

for the crumb:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds

for the cake:
1 1/4 lb of rhubarb, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/3 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/3 cup (165 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9×13 inch pan by greasing with butter or cooking spray, cutting a piece of parchment paper so it lines the bottom and extends up the sides to form a sling.

Prepare the crumb by combining flour, brown sugar, salt and almonds in a small bowl. Add butter and stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened and a large crumb forms.

Stir together the rhuburb and 2/3 cup of sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside. Combine the 1 1/3 cup flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk, and set aside.

Using a mixer, cream together butter and remaining 2/3 cup sugar on medium high speed, until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions. Add almond extract, beating a few seconds to incorporate. Reduce speed to low.

Add half the flour mixture, followed by the yogurt, then the remaining flour mixture, beating until just incorporated after each addition. Spread cake batter into prepared pan using a spatula. Top the batter with the rhubarb mixture evenly. Finish by sprinkling the crumb over the rhubarb.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out of the bottom batter layer cleanly. Remove from oven, and allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. You can use the parchment sling to remove the finished cake from the pan. Enjoy, with some vanilla ice cream if you’re feeling particularly decadent.

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