Coffee or Snack?

I served a rich slice of cake with coffee the other day and it prompted a brief discussion about the differences between coffee cake and snack cake. In the end, we couldn't really point to any official definition that excluded one treat category from the other. However, we did decide they are all just lovely:

By layering together a rich cake crust, not unlike a typical pound cake with another layer of lightly sweetened rhubarb, and a top layer of lightly spiced, sweetened crumbs, you get a treat that's got a little bit of everything going on. And, while it does consist of three distinct layers, it isn't difficult to assemble and can keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, although it's questionable that it will last that long when this is what you see when a snack attack strikes:

Whether you find yourself snacking on this cake, having it with coffee or tea, or enjoying it at the end of a meal, it's definitely the sort of thing you should keep in your arsenal when rhubarb season comes along. You'll be making it again and again because, even if people can't agree about whether it's a coffee cake or a snack cake or something else entirely, they can agree that it's downright delicious!

Rhubarb Crumb Cake

For the Batter:
  • 2 1/2 c. chopped rhubarb
  • 1 1/3 c. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pie spice
  • 1/4 c. cream cheese
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
For the Topping:
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 T. butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

To make the batter, stir together rhubarb, lemon juice, and 2/3 cup of the sugar and set aside. Beat the canola oil and remaining sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at at time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Add the remaining batter ingredients (flour through heavy cream) and beat until just combined. Drop the batter over the prepared baking pan, using a spatula to spread the cake into a thin layer on the bottom. Pour the rhubarb mixture over the cake, spreading it into an even layer. (Reserve any juices that have collected on the bottom of the bowl for another use — I added mine to lemonade!)

Stir together the topping mixture, first whisking the flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon together, then stirring in the melted butter with a spoon or fork. Scatter the topping evenly over the rhubarb layer. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. The cake is done when a tester comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a rack. Store any unused cake covered tightly for a few days at room temperature or up to a week in the refrigerator.

  • Yields: 24 servings
  • Preparation Time: 75 minutes

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