Mulberry and Rhubarb Crumb Cake
I think many like me have experienced the frustrations of wanting to make something but discovered that an ingredient or tool or two is lacking in the pantry or inventory. Like three different types of vanilla beans Pierre Hermé calls for in his Tarte Infinitement Vanille, or the chic-looking square tartlette moulds in Sugino’s Tartlette aux Figues, are just some of the factors which had deterred me from attempting these recipes. Some of these ingredients may be seasonal, e.g. exotic berries and Rainier cherries, while others totally inaccessible, e.g. meyer lemons, quince, bergamot, wild strawberries fraises des bois…just to name a few, or simply out of this world… like talent!
I guess rhubarb is one of those things that fall into the “seasonal” category. I was absolutely enthralled when I recieved a “tipoff” that a good batch of them was in town a couple of weeks back, promptly me to go grab some before they are gone again. It would have to be another long year’s wait for the next Australian winter before we see them again and I don’t think I can survive the ordeal!
True to the word, they looked fabulous in all that vermilion brilliance. And while I was pondering over what to make with these, mulberries are sighted as well. Twice lucky! How often does one get that! Aran’s Rhubarb and Mulberry Crumb Cake came to mind quite naturally.
Excited I was, I could help being worried at how food prices have escalated over the months, flour, butter, sugar and now even rhubarb!!! I remember them going for about S$17 a kilo last year and now it has almost doubled to a close-to 30 bucks. Damn! And top of that, I was presented with a mini lecture on erratic climatic patterns in Australia and how it affected the crop yield blah blah blah….I just want to choose my rhubarb!
According to Aran, rhubarb freezes well. i took her word for it and went to chop ’em up into finger length stalks, pack ’em in ziplocs and in they go to brave the cold! 2 weeks down, they have limped quite a bit but thankfully retained all that sanguine exuberance.
Her recipe called for quinoa flour and brown rice flour. While I understood the use of quinoa flour as a gluten-free substitute for normal plain wheat flour, I’m still wondering on apart from being gluten-free as well, how brown rice flour affects the textures of the cake. Well, took a leap of faith and got a pack of good o’ Bob’s and in it went. Enlighten me if you have the know-whats to this!
And here’s the recipe from Aran of Canelle et Vanille
Mulberry and Rhubarb Crumb Cakes adapted from Martha Stewart Living
Makes a 9″x9″ tart pan
6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup superfine brown rice flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour (used plain flour)
2 Tbs almond flour
2 Tbs potato starch
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room tempertaure
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup superfine brown rice flour
1/3 cup quinoa flour
2 Tbs almond flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups ripe mulberries, stalks removed
1 cup diced rhubarb
Mix the first seven ingredients in a bowl until it forms a crumble. Chill it for 20 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 180C. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar together. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix and scrape the bowl well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until the batter comes together.
Grease a 9″x9″ square tart pan. Spread the cake batter evenly. Top the batter with the mulberries and rhubarb. Top the fruit with the chilled crumble (there might be some leftover crumble that you can freeze for another time).
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool, then cut it into 2 inch squares.
dressing the cake batter with lotsa diced rhubarb and whole mulberries
topping with chilled crumble. what seemed a lot is actually very little. Should have used more actually…
peekaboo amidst all that “sable-liness”!
fresh out of the oven. Seemed to have lost quite a bit of that “crumbliness” as some of the crumb seem to have integrated into the cake batter. Did I delayed the baking a tad too long with the photo taking? hmmm….
slicing up the squares revealing the cake leached in pretty pink!
Taking the plunge…texture wise, the cake body is quite crumbly and soft, somewhat genoise-like. The crumble on top adds to the crunch, especially when the cake’s still fresh and warm. The mulberry and rhubarb combination was refreshing but yet familiar in a strange way. I love the tart flavours drawn from rhubarb which was very well complimented by mulberries; a pleasant surprise indeed. But now in retrospect, this seems like more of an acquired taste actually. Something which kids might not take very well to. The familiarity stems from the uncanny resemblance of flavours to the candied rind and fruit on a xmas fruit cake, but without the heartiness and heft, making it an excellent tea cake.
I’d always enjoyed reading Aran’s blog and admiring her beautiful photos, dreaming of becoming like her one day. I also enjoyed the cake, flavourful without those overbearing qualities of a rich tea cake.
hope you would too.