rhubarb crumble cake with strawberry jam swirl

May 7, 2012

It was pretty clear from the get go I was never going to be a musician and be able to join the family band.

After months of failed flute lessons, some gnarly guitar sessions and a few pathetic attempts at what one could only call a piano recital, I was finally allowed decided to throw in the towel.

Which I threw right over my shoulder and headed into the kitchen without looking back.

My family – including aunts, uncles, and cousins – all have a serious gift when it comes to musical talent. Making music comes easy to them. Impromptu jam sessions happen when two or more members are in the same room at a family event and there is a fork and a water glass nearby.

Impromptu jam sessions happen to me when I unexpectedly receive four pounds of peaches in August.

They see a tambourine as a musical instrument. I see a tambourine as a unique and whimsical serving platter for cookies which happens to also announce its own arrival.

But just as a teacher needs a classroom of students, and a performer needs an audience, a baker needs to show up at a party with hungry guests. My family has always been there to sample and support my need to bring cookies into the world.

Forgive me, I’m feeling sentimental at the news of this wee award.

My brain is still simultaneously processing the awesome and the bonkers. For whoa. Most of all I’m humbled by your votes. Thank you for taking the time, and for sharing this little here blog, but mostly for reading my stories so very loosely related to cake. The announcement was quite a shock as I’m among some excellent company in the Baking and Desserts category (a huge shout out to my fellow sugar lovers behind the blogs Chasing DeliciousJoe PastryWillow Bird BakingSprinkle Bakes and Poires au Chocolat!!).

So I give you cake. Rhubarb crumble cake with a strawberry jam swirl to be exact. This cake is springtime in a springform.

It is also a baked good with proper time management. What begins as a crumble – of which you set a bit aside for the topping – gets a hit of buttermilk/egg/vanilla goodness and before you know it the show ends with a batter freckled with tiny pockets of pink.

What comes out of the oven is a delicate, buttery cake studded with tart rhubarb, a ribbon of sweet strawberry jam with a hat of brown sugar oat crumbs.

You never know when you need a lovely little springform springtime cake.

Rhubarb Crumble Cake with Strawberry Jam Swirl
Makes one 9-inch cake

Inspired by Nigella Lawson via The New York Times

For the rhubarb:
3 stalks (about 215 grams) rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup (55 grams) brown sugar
juice of one lemon
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

For the cake:
2 cups + 2 tablespoons (270 grams) flour
3/4 cup (155 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons or 170 grams) butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon (8 grams) oats
1 tablespoon (20 grams) brown sugar
1 cup (236 ml) buttermilk
1 egg
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla
1/2 cup (170 grams) strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 375. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.

In a small bowl mix rhubarb (it should measure about 1 1/2 cups chopped), brown sugar, lemon juice and vanilla bean seeds. I just tossed in the pod – because why not?! – and let the whole thing chill out while you are making the cake. Cook the strawberry jam over low heat in a small saucepan so that it loosens and just begins to bubble. Turn off the heat and let it hang out as well.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter, toss each piece so it is coated in flour and begin to work the butter in by hand until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Scoop out about 1/2 cup (75 grams) into a small bowl and add oats and brown sugar. Press together until large crumbs form and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

Measure buttermilk into a liquid measuring cup (or a small bowl but who likes extra dishes to wash) and then whisk in the egg and vanilla. Add buttermilk mixture to the remaining flour mixture and combine using several quick strokes. Add in the rhubarb pieces – leaving any remaining juices and the vanilla bean behind in the bowl – and stir to fold in the bits.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan then add the jam and spread it in an even layer leaving about 1/2-inch border on all sides. Add the remaining batter and smooth the top. Sprinkle crumble evenly over the top of the cake and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Let cool completely and serve.


{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Natalie May 7, 2012 at 7:58 am

I absolutely love these kind of cakes, goes perfectly well next to a cup of coffee 🙂



Nanna May 7, 2012 at 10:35 am

Congratulations on your Saveur win! I found your blog through their list of finalist a few days ago and read through all the posts. It’s now one of my favorites 🙂


Lillie May 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Thank you Nanna! You are so sweet!


Ali May 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Yummm that cake looks delicious. Maybe also inspired by the rhubarb basil tart at Smith Canteen…? I’m sure your head is still swimming with the win – but trust me, you deserve it!


Lillie May 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Yes, totally inspired by our lovely coffee date! I almost wanted to put basil in the crumble – but guess I’ll have to make it again (twist my arm..)!


thelittleloaf May 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Rhubarb and strawberry is such a winning combination. Love this crumbly cake – yum!


Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar May 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm

This sounds so yummy! I love it!


Jean May 7, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Love that award hanging up in the corner on your home page. Congratulations again:-)

And Paul will go nuts when he sees this recipe, rhubarb being one of his all-time favorites.


Lillie May 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Thank you Jean. It’s quite an honor to have it there!


Paul May 7, 2012 at 11:47 pm

What no bourbon or cayenne? Of course, to me, rhubarb is second to none for springtime eating pleasure. I want to try this recipe. Maybe JEAN will make it for me? 😉


Lillie May 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Hah! Yes, I hope she does! 🙂


Harriet May 8, 2012 at 4:58 am

Congratulations! All the family here will be taste-tasting your goodies soon! They all look so yummy it’s hard to know where to start.


Lillie May 8, 2012 at 11:59 am

Thank you Harriet! Yes, and I can’t wait to bake up some Czech treats (perhaps an old family recipe?) soon!


Samantha Angela May 8, 2012 at 8:49 am

Congratulations on your win!
And your cake looks delicious!


Catherine May 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm

congratulations, Lillie. The award is richly deserved. I’ll be sure to put you on my peach delivery list in August.


Amrita May 11, 2012 at 6:38 am

Congratulations on the win! You totally deserve it.

Have been visiting your blog for quite sometime and have never left a comment before. Perfect chance, I have now, no?


Carole Neice May 11, 2012 at 11:50 pm

I always thought rhubarb was weird never having eaten it growing up. Then my daughter Angela (Lil’s cousin) doing her best to find her own food path, baked up a rhubarb strawberry crisp a few years back. It was warm and sweet then tart and so delicious with vanilla ice cream draped over the top. Guess what I’ve asked for as my Mother’s Day treat!


Turismo May 27, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Excellente blog, greetings


Maggie August 26, 2012 at 5:34 am

I’m giving this one a go but using cranberries and apples instead of rhubarb. it’s in the oven….right now…..


Lillie August 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Awesome, sounds delish! I cant wait to hear how it turned out!


Sue July 22, 2013 at 10:25 am

Could you use fresh strawberries in this instead of strawberry jam, perhaps chopping them first? I have both fresh rhubarb and strawberries to use so this would be ideal!


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