Lemon Rhubarb Crumb Cake

I love a good summer cake, and Smitten Kitchen is my go-to source. A few summers ago I discovered her raspberry buttermilk cake and I made it probably ten times in three months, with whatever fruit I had on hand, and it was a hit every single time. So I was extremely excited when she posted this cake this week, saying that it was her new summer cake and her favorite one yet.

I have also had a hankering to try baking with rhubarb for a few weeks, so this was a perfect storm. Of deliciousness.

The cake comes together in three parts. It’s a bit of a time commitment for a weeknight, but when your rhubarb is wilting, you do not have the luxury of a lazy Saturday in the kitchen! Small price to pay. The first part is the rhubarb: chop and add sugar and lemon juice, and then let it sit and infuse while you work on the other parts of the cake.

The cake itself is a very thin one, which is just fine by this one-layer cake lover. The flavor is so buttery and lemony, and the texture is delightfully fluffy and light. I would eat it just plain, for sure, but it’s so perfect with the rhubarb. Here it is, poured right over the top. Make sure you include all the liquid from the mixture for extra moisture and awesomeness.

And then you make the crumb: just flour and sugar and a pinch of salt with melted butter poured in. Yum.

Here we are: ready to bake. It takes about an hour…but that leaves you plenty of time to do all the dishes!

I baked mine in a glass pan, since I don’t have a 9 x 13 cake pan. I wasn’t about to let that stand in my way! I didn’t bother with parchment paper, but went heavy on the butter on the bottom of the pan, and it came out just fine. Success!

This cake is so delicate and deeply flavored, and I love eating it in these tiny little squares. Big thanks to Deb for delivering another summer favorite!

Lemon Rhubarb Crumb Cake
Recipe ever so slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

For the cake:
1 1/4 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths on the diagonal
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups  all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup sour cream

For the crumb:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces, or 55 grams) unsalted butter, melted

-Preheat your oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan with butter or a nonstick cooking spray.
-Combine rhubarb, lemon juice and 2/3 cup sugar in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest with an electric or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at at time, and make sure to scrape down the sides after each one.
-Whisk together flour, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon table salt and ground ginger together in a small bowl. Add one-third of this mixture to the batter, mixing until just combined. Then add half the sour cream, the second third of the flour mixture, the remaining sour cream, and then the remaining flour mixture, mixing between each addition until just combined.
-Dollop batter over prepared pan, then spread the cake into an even, thin layer. Pour the rhubarb mixture (including all the liquid) over the cake, spreading it into an even layer.
-Stir together the crumb mixture, first whisking the flour, brown sugar, table salt and cinnamon together, then stirring in the melted butter with a spoon or fork. Scatter evenly over rhubarb layer.
-Bake cake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. The cake is done when a tester comes out free of the wet cake batter below. It will be golden on top. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.
-Cut into small squares and enjoy!

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