Friday, May 10, 2013

Lemon Rhubarb Buckle

I would like to take a moment to extol the values of a lesser-known rhubarb sidekick. Strawberry and rhubarb have had a good thing going for a long time now, but what about the lonely left out lemon? It pairs so nicely with the equally tart rhubarb, and it doesn't cover up its rhubarby flavor like strawberries can.  I think there's room for both pairings in the world.

You see, I had a bag of rhubrab in the refrigerator but nary a strawberry in sight when I got the urge to bake something last night.  I started with my Cranberry Orange Cake recipe and tweaked it a bit to get this Lemon Rhubarb Buckle*. I think I like it even better than the original! It's a moist cake dotted with fresh fruit and sprinkled with a crumbly topping.  Its sweetness balances with the tender tart rhubarb and bright lemon zest.  Perfect for a Thursday night of no significance at all, it would also be a great addition to a Mother's Day Brunch menu!

*Side Note: A buckle is usually a cake topped with fresh fruit and then a crumbly topping that "buckles" as it bakes. Here you mix some fruit into the batter, top the batter with more fruit, and then top everything with the crumbly topping.
Vanilla Crumb Topping

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tb white sugar
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 Tb vanilla extract

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, combine on low speed until the texture resembles coarse crumbs.

Drizzle the vanilla over the mixture and mix briefly until incorporated. (All of this can also be done by pulsing the ingredients in a food processor). 

When the crumb topping is done, store it in the refrigerator so the butter stays cold while you make the cake. 

Lemon Rhubarb Buckle

1 Tb unsalted butter, to grease baking dish
1 cup Vanilla Crumb Topping (recipe above)
1 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
zest of 1 1/2 lemons
2 eggs
1/2 Tb vanilla extract
1/2 cup 2% greek yogurt
4 rhubarb stalks (~2 cups), halved lengthwise and finely diced

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-in square baking dish.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Next, stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the yogurt in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. 

Fold in about 1 1/4 cup of the rhubarb, and then spread the batter into the prepared baking dish. Distribute the remaining rhubarb over the cake, and spread the crumb topping over the rhubarb.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm on top 
(a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean when done)

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