Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Almond Rhubarb Coffee Cake - #recipe @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE: Rhubarb isn’t sexy. Good thing it’s yummy! It is also a northern plant, one that needs a good winter’s chill to prosper. We had a big plant behind the house I grew up in, but mine was destroyed in the Great Garden Flood and I haven’t yet gotten a new one going. So when I visited the old hometown recently, I liberated a few stalks in an alley, not having any idea what I would do with them.

Then I stumbled on this recipe, which combines the tangy taste of rhubarb with almonds and orange. If you have almond flour, use it, but if you don’t, grind half a cup of almonds into a coarse meal—we found that the coarser grind added texture and held more flavor than a fine grind would have. The cardamom adds a lovely, delicate touch of spice.

We live at 3,200 feet, right at the edge of what’s considered altitude for baking, usually 3,000-3,500. I don’t bake cakes or quick breads often, and tend to forget to add a tablespoon or two of flour, but if you’re above 3,000 feet, do add it, to make sure the center of the cake bakes thoroughly and doesn’t sink. (Air pressure thins as elevation rises, changing the chemical reactions between the flour, liquid, and fats. And that’s the end of the kitchen chemistry lesson.)

Coffee cakes do take a while to prep and bake, so it’s a good thing they keep for several days, and freeze well for playback in a later time zone.

Almond Rhubarb Coffee Cake

1 cup white sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 orange, zested
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour (plus 1-2 tablespoons at altitude, above 3,000 feet)
1/2 cup almond flour (ground almonds)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 heaping cups sliced rhubarb (cut into 1 inch slices)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sugar
powdered sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-inch springform pan with non-stick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, the cup sugar and the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then mix in the sour cream, orange zest, vanilla, and almond extract.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cardamom, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients gradually, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed, until everything is combined. The dough will be thick and sticky.

Spread half of the batter evenly into the pan. Layer half the rhubarb on top of the batter. Top with the remaining batter, then layer in the rest of the rhubarb. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds, and top with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake until browned and set in the center, about 70 minutes. Cook on a rack about 10 minutes before running a knife around the inside of the rim, releasing the spring, and lifting off the ring. Dust with powdered sugar, by tapping a spoon of sugar with your finger while moving the spoon over the cake. Slice and serve warm.

"Budewitz's finely drawn characters, sharp ear for dialogue, and well-paced puzzle make Jewel Bay a destination for every cozy fan." --- Kirkus Reviews

From the cover of AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #5 (Midnight Ink, June 2018, available in trade paper, e-book, and audio):  

In Jewel Bay---Montana's Christmas Village---all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily’s turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. A past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. I'm very late today and I'm the first comment?!
    Where is everyone?
    This looks really lovely. Makes me (almost) wish I liked rhubarb.

    1. Libby, dear, I'll eat your share!
      (And yeah, I was wondering, too!)

  2. I love almond cake. The rhubarb sounds like a nice addition.

  3. Looks yummy! Have you ever tried it with all almond flour or almond meal? The almond meal is less finely ground than almond flour and gives a nutty flavor. I wonder if it would bake thoroughly. Looks delicious. Arizona is not really rhubarb friendly. I’ll be in Wisconsin for a visit...there’s lots there if it’s not too late in the season.

    1. Jane, I've only made it the one time, so no. I suspect it would be too dense and not bake well. The better g-f alternative would probably be to use a g-f flour blend -- many are widely available, and our Daryl often shares her blend. (Look for it in the archives.)