What I Like About Spring & Rhubarb Crumb Cake

daffodils_april_10_03_editedIf you have a mind to, there is plenty to complain about spring. Particularly for those of us who live in New Hampshire. Muddy roads, black flies, red eyes and sneezing from allergies … I’m sure the list can go on and on. At least for today, let’s forget that onerous list of tiresome complaints. Instead, let’s put together something upbeat and uplifting. How about a list of all the things we like?

Sounds good to me. You may be surprised at how happy you will feel when you are done.

So here goes … in no particular order …

I like the smell of spring first thing in the morning and in the evening after it rains. The scent is fresh and clean with a hint of mud and moss. On top of the fresh smell, the air feels strangely warm and cool at the same time. I hope you know what I mean because I think it’s wonderful.

I like the sound of spring peepers in the evening. They are outside chirping right now. It reminds me of being a kid. I have this vague memory of coming home one rainy night and the car’s headlights flashing on hundreds of tiny frogs. First, we made Dad stop so not to run them over. Then, we got out of the car danced among them.

I like spotting the first spotted newt of the season. There is something quite endearing about our state amphibian. Or maybe it’s just endearing that a group of high school students managed to convince Concord that we needed a state amphibian.

I like complaining about black flies. Please note: I don’t like these loathsome creatures. They are nothing short of icky but I do like to tell exaggerated tales of their orneriness.

I like it when everyone with an antique car takes it out of the barn for a spin around Pleasant Lake. Now that the days are warmer, we see a fair number of model T’s and old Buicks on any given Sunday.

I like rhubarb. I don’t always know what to do with it but I like that it is wonderfully tart. I like that it comes back year after year. I like that it will be ready for harvest and a cake by the weekend.

I like that the sun wakes me before the alarm clock can go off. Instead of a jarring buzz, the early morning rays peek in my window, gently tug me from sleep and ease me into the day.

I like daffodils. There is something so charming and optimistic about their bright yellow blooms.

I like lilacs. Their heavy scent fills the air. If you close your eyes and breathe deep, you might think, if only for a second, that your nana is beside you.

I like the warm sun on my skin and wearing shirtsleeves and shorts. That’s in the daytime but the nights are still delightfully cool for a wonderful deep sleep.

Happy spring and bon appétit!

Rhubarb Crumb Cake
Every spring I think about new ways to use my rhubarb plant. Here is the latest. Enjoy!
Serves 8-12

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Pinch nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
About 12 ounces rhubarb, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
Crumbly Topping (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan or deep-dish pie plate. If using a springform pan, line it with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust the pan or plate with flour and tap out any excess.

Put the flour, orange zest, baking powder and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, sour cream and vanilla and beat until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until just smooth. Do not overbeat.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the rhubarb on top of the batter in a single layer. Sprinkle with the Crumbly Topping.

Bake the cake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until the cake is golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10-15 minutes. Remove the springform collar and continue to cool.

Rhubarb Crumb Cake can be stored, loosely covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Crumbly Topping
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Pinch nutmeg
3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/3 cup oatmeal

Put the flour, sugar and spices in a small food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Add the oatmeal and pulse until the topping comes together in lumps.

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One Year Ago – A Duo of Aiolis
Two Years Ago – Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Mushrooms & Mustard Sauce
Three Years Ago – Crunch Salad with Apples & Grapes
Four Years Ago – Grilled Mustard Pork Chops
Five Years Ago – Rhubarb Crisp
Six Years Ago – Spicy Grilled Steak

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What do you like about spring? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

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