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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Uncle Paul's Rhubarb Crunch Cake

I am about ready to jump in the car and drive the five hours up to Portland, PA to go through my Uncle Paul's stash of recipes and interview him for some baking and cooking tips. My uncle is a trained chef and clearly knows how to create amazing baked goods. I found this crunch cake in the recipe book from my bridal shower. It is getting to be the end of rhubarb season, so this cake was the perfect seasonal treat to try. I was a little hesitant to use strawberry Jello in a coffee cake, but no one is ever going to guess you used it! 

Nick and I agree that this is probably one of the best fruit coffee cakes we've ever had. The sour cream in the batter provides some density without compromising the lightness of the cake. Though the recipe has plenty of sugar, the rhubarb provides a hint of sourness that cuts through the sweet cake. The cinnamon, sugar and nut layers provide the satisfying crunch, balancing out the layers of fluffy cake and spongy rhubarb. This cake would be a delightful addition to a weekend brunch, afternoon tea, or a light summer meal. Add a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream to put this treat over the top.

I only used the two larger stalks of rhubarb. Fortunately, Nick stopped me from grabbing about five stalks at Whole Foods! This cake is relatively simple to make, but I did have some issues spreading the sticky batter into the greased pan. I think an offset spatula would work well. The layering is just batter, rhubarb, nut mixture, batter, nut mixture. It's okay if some of the rhubarb is peeking out along the edges. This just adds extra color to the top of the cake.

True confession - I forgot to add the first layer of the walnut / sugar mixture on top of the rhubarb. Hence, we had only half the crunch, but this cake was still amazing! Be careful not to over-bake it as the walnuts will start the burn.

I hope that the family chef will share some additional dishes with us - his recipes may become a permanent feature on the blog! We're praying for you . . . get better and get back in the kitchen soon.

Rhubarb Crunch Cake
From Paul Lebkuecher
Serves 18-20

  • 3 cups rhubarb pieces, 1/2" or smaller
  • 3 oz strawberry Jello
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix rhubarb pieces thoroughly with strawberry Jello. Set aside to absorb color.

Make batter with next eight ingredients. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs well. Stir in remaining batter ingredients (sour cream, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt). 

Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, remaining sugar and walnuts in a small bowl.

Spread half of batter in greased 9 x 13" pan. Spread rhubarb mixture lightly over batter. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture over the rhubarb. Spread on remaining batter. Sprinkle the batter with the remaining nut mixture. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until browned.

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