For the love of snack cake, it’s rhubarb season! I went to the farmer’s market last weekend, and I couldn’t resist getting a big bunch of beautiful, ruby red stalks of rhubarb, along with asparagus and shallots. Spoiler alert: I did not use the asparagus and shallots in this snack cake. Second spoiler alert: I had no idea what I was going to make with the rhubarb. I knew I wanted something easy (i.e., no intricately woven pies) and something delicious that I could snack on all day long. So I went back to one of my favorite muffin recipes, tweaked it to include the rhubarb, a little extra sweetness, and a crunchy almond topping, turned it into a cake, and voila! A sweet and tart snack cake perfect for any time.
It’s that time of year for me where time seems to compress. I’m simultaneously wondering how we’re going to make it through all the events going on over the next month and worried that I’m going to wake up and it will already by the Fourth of July. I spend so much of February and March looking forward to spring, and then it’s upon me and every day is jam packed with goodness and activity and just trying to get through everything that it just slips out of my hands. So I guess spending time in the kitchen baking is my version of slowing down and not missing the moment, Ferris Bueller style? Lord knows I’m not going to be dancing in any parades, so this rhubarb cake will have to suffice.
I love this snack cake because you can make it in a flash with simple ingredients, and it still gives you all the good homemade vibes. I adapted it (pretty loosely) from a recipe on Smitten Kitchen for apple muffins that I’ve been making for at least 5 years. The most obvious change is that I made it into a cake, but the amount of batter is perfect for making a 9” cake rather than 12 muffins. After experimenting with using half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour, I decided to go with just all-purpose flour to keep the cake a little lighter and let the rhubarb flavor really shine. I used all brown sugar for a more caramelized flavor, and then added a sprinkle of sugar and sliced almonds on top for extra crunch.
I made this for Mother’s Day last weekend, and it was a big hit. It’s delicious without being heavy, sweet but with a nice tang from the rhubarb, and that pink color of the baked rhubarb is just too pretty. If you’re eyeing that fresh rhubarb this time of year and wondering what you can make from it, this would be a perfect, easy choice.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 ½ cups chopped rhubarb
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a 9" cake pan, line it with parchment paper, and butter the paper.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a handheld mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until smooth and creamy, about one minute. Add brown sugar and continue to beat for two minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for a minute between each addition, then the vanilla.
- Turn the mixer on low speed and add half of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, then add the buttermilk, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Don't over-mix!
- With a rubber spatula, stir in the rhubarb.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the top with the sugar, followed by the sliced almonds.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for five minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.