This rhubarb breakfast cake is not too tart, not too sweet and is a rewarding and simple way to enjoy your own home grown rhubarb.
Last year a generous friend divided up her rhubarb plant and shared some with me to plant in my own garden. Now, after taking time to get established, it's finally ready to harvest and bake into a rhubarb cake perfect for breakfast.
how to grow rhubarb
I am surprised by how easy rhubarb is to grow. I planted it along the side of one of my compost bins, and it's done well there, filling in an awkward space with its broad, healthy green leaves. All I did was keep it well watered throughout the summer, occasionally gave it some liquid fertilizer, and then I cut it back in the fall when frost hit. You can't harvest it in its first year, so there's not much to do otherwise. I was unsure if it would grow back this year, but it's here and looks fantastic.
when and how to harvest rhubarb
You can harvest rhubarb in May and June when the stalks are at least 10 inches tall. Keep in mind that the color of the stalks is not an indication of their ripeness. They may be pink, red, or green, and it doesn't make a difference.
The best way to pick rhubarb is to use your hands rather than a knife. Hold the top of the stalk and then twist and gently pull. The stalk should pop right out. But if the whole rhubarb plant starts to come out, you're probably pulling too hard. This pulling approach lets the plant know to put out more shoots and keep growing.
There are a couple of tips my friend shared with me. First, you don't want to harvest more than two-thirds of the plant in one year. Second, it's best if you harvest rhubarb earlier in the season so that there is plenty of time for the plant to regrow regain its energy in time for winter.
Here's a great source for more info on how to grow rhubarb.
freeze rhubarb to enjoy all year
It's ok if you can't use up all of your rhubarb at once. Rhubarb keeps well in the fridge, wrapped, for a week or so. Or, you can chop the rhubarb into one-inch pieces, lay them out on a baking sheet and freeze. Afterward, transfer to bags or containers for long-term storage. Just be sure you don't save or use the leaves, as they're toxic. You can use the rhubarb directly from the freezer, such as in this cake recipe.
Between its taste and texture, rhubarb is one unique fruit. Unlike most fruits, it's not sweet. Rhubarb is completely sour, and it's why it pairs well in sweet desserts with other fruits, such as strawberries. If you ask me, the texture of rhubarb is a bit like celery. So yeah, rhubarb is essentially sour celery. Sounds great, right? No wonder it seems to be a love or hate kind of food.
don't muddle rhubarb with too much sugar
As with most things in life, I like balance when using rhubarb. I don't want to eat something so sweet that it essentially masks the taste of the rhubarb. Because, what's the point of the rhubarb at that point? That's why I think most rhubarb dessert recipes are terrible.
rhubarb breakfast cake
Instead, I wanted a flavorful, but not so sweet, kind of cake that not only allows the rhubarb to shine but is balanced enough that you can eat it for breakfast or dessert. And why not eat cake for breakfast? This recipe includes oats, whole wheat flour, yogurt, eggs, and fruit – all things we eat for breakfast anyway.
I find that the oats help add some chewy texture to the cake, which is extremely moist from the rhubarb. As the cake cooks the rhubarb melts into these amazing pockets of tart jamminess. So the oats, and then the streusel topping, help to add some chewiness to this rhubarb cake.
If you like the idea of keeping rhubarb recipes less sweet, check out my rhubarb and apple chutney that I like to serve over grilled pork chops.Print