Saturday, June 14, 2014

Celebrate the season and more with rhubarb-pecan tea cake

Brought to you by Victoria Abbott


Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini 

Congrats to our lucky winner of  'the pug in the mug' from our last post: Lynda MacDonald, please email us at to claim your pugly mug. Yippee!

Speaking of luck: Are you lucky enough to have rhubarb? Whether you pick your own, buy it or use frozen, this tea cake is a delicious treat to celebrate whatever needs celebrating.  We fell totally in love with its rich, tangy taste.  We have a nice patch of it and are reaping the rewards.

Many of you know that we moved into our renovated ranch house two years ago.  The house suited us perfectly but the garden lay in ruins. All that survived years of abuse was a lone peony, some wandering hostas and a vigorous rhubarb plant.  We have been very happy with that rhubarb plant and have tried a number of recipes with our harvest. Yes, we know that rhubarb is really a vegetable, but we’ll pretend it’s a fruit and put it in this yummy cake. We understand the cake freezes well, but haven’t had any left over to test that. Oh well.  The tea cake is an adaptation of a recipe from Chatelaine, a Canadian magazine with super recipes and more. Chatelaine has been the source of many a great meal here. 

Rhubarb tea-cake

Assemble your ingredients!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1  egg
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one lemon

1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 cup sifted icing sugar
4 to 5 tsp lemon juice

Then all you have to do is:

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8 × 4-in. loaf pan.  Cut a rectangle of parchment paper the width of the loaf pan and about six inches longer. Place the paper in the pan with the extra paper hanging over.  This makes it very easy to remove the tea loaf after it cools. 
Stir flour with baking soda and salt in medium bowl.  Add the lemon zest.  We found the zest gave the cake real zing, but you can dial it back if you prefer.

Whisk egg with brown sugar, buttermilk, oil and vanilla in large bowl, then stir in flour mixture. Add rhubarb and pecans and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

Bake in centre of oven until a cake tester inserted in centre of loaf comes out clean, 70 to 75 min. Transfer to a rack to cool in pan for 10 min.

Stir icing sugar with lemon juice in a small bowl, adding juice 1 tsp at a time until smooth. We like ours slightly runny.  You must suit yourself with icing consistency.

Drizzle glaze over warm loaf, letting it run down the sides.

Enjoy with or without ice cream.  Yum.

Here’s a dandy tip: Are you tired of wasting buttermilk or passing up recipes with buttermilk?
We know that there are many substitutes for buttermilk, but we love the real thing and now we'll always have it at our fingertips, because we've learned you can freeze buttermilk in half-cup measures by filling a muffin tin and freezing it. Repackage into freezer bag after 24 hours.   It even looks cute!

But wait! What else is new? Is there something else we should be celebrating?

Of course! We want to celebrate that The Wolfe Widow, third in our book collector series, will be out in less than three months, Less than 90 sleeps!  It will hit the shelves and e-readers on September 2,  2014.  

But you can  Pre-order it here!

Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter for contests, news and fun. 

Just click here!   




  1. Beautiful tea cake for summer, Victoria/MJ, thanks for sharing this, and the brilliant tip on freezing buttermilk. The recipe and tip are keepers, just like your terrific books. Enjoy your summer weekend, may it be delicious! ~ Cleo

    1. Thanks, Cleo! I hope you have a wonderful and delicious weekend too!

      I have two of your recipes on my To Make list this week.



  2. You girls are just too cute:)!! Yes, thank you for another yummy rhubarb recipe--we have an enormous plant and how many pies can I foist off on my family??

    1. Thanks, Lucy, I loved your recipe for the rhubarb pie. As I also have an enormous plant. I passed yours on to my friend as well,

      Have a great day.



  3. I just bought some rhubarb at the farmer's market yesterday---now I need to figure out how to print this recipe.

    1. I hope the printing works. I always copy the whole recipe, paste into WORD, then delete the photos. I am always printing recipes from MLK, because they are soooo good!



  4. What a brilliant idea for freezing the buttermilk. I do that with tomato paste. I also did it with freshly squeezed lemon juice when i needed to peel a lot of lemons to make lemoncello.

    1. Hi Libby - we have also tried it with chicken stock (the 1/2 cups are great) and lemon, I hear you can do it with leftover white wine too (if such a thing is possible.) You make lemoncello? Look at you go!



    2. What does one do with left over evaporated milk? Can it be frozen?
      I made butterscotch pudding for Father's Day (a favorite of my husband's) but the recipe only called for 1/2 cup. Now I have the rest of the can left.

    3. I don't know, Libby, but I will ask on Facebook!