Rhubarb Coffee Cake | Becoming a Coffee Cake Person

big crumb coffee cake recipe

Hi there.

Did you know Mother’s Day is coming up here shortly? Yes, it’s true. Mother’s Day is on May 13th. That’s this weekend!

I imagine many of you are rolling your eyes right now. You are keenly aware of Mother’s Day. You’re already a mom or an informed offspring or spouse who takes pride in staying current on such matters. But maybe, just maybe, this came as news to you. You read that line about the upcoming festival of mamas and you started a bit. A touch of panic, perhaps?

It’s O.K. There is still time. You can still run to the store and find something pretty, useful, or educational depending on the type of mom you’re celebrating. You can still find a decent bouquet of flowers. You might even be able to do this on Sunday morning before she rises. It always seems there are an abundance of people standing on corners selling flowers out of buckets on Mother’s Day. You know the ones. They have flowers wrapped up in cellophane that is scalloped and tinged with bits of red to look like lace? These fancy things might even be nestled alongside some teddy bears with velvet hearts sewn between 2 itty bitty paws.

Sounds perfect.

But I have another idea.

Make her something sweet she will enjoy when she wakes up in the morning.

Moms are tired. They don’t want to make breakfast complicated, but they do want to eat something delicious. Besides, breakfast is the best meal of the day. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t had a decent breakfast. There are so many things to make for the first meal of the day it can make your head spin. I assure you, however, there is no need to fear this meal. In know it’s early in the morning and we are all a bit foggy, but I am going to give you a recipe, which will undoubtedly ensure your place in mom’s heart forever.

Coffee cake.

Big Crumb Coffee Cake, to be precise.

big crumb coffee cake recipe

I typed that and my stomach audibly rumbled. It’s pretty remarkable, actually. I never considered myself a real coffee cake person. It’s not that I don’t like coffee cake because I do. I like it a lot. In fact, I eye those tempting chunks of coffee cake in the glass cases at coffee shops all of the time. But I mostly resist. I find I have a surprising amount of will power when presented with sweets I didn’t make in my home kitchen.

big crumb coffee cake recipe

I also think part of my ability to resist coffee cake is due to my early childhood baking experiences. My mom didn’t bake coffee cake so I didn’t have the proper exposure. I’m sure this some sort form of mild abuse, but I haven’t examined the issue much. I can say I am putting all that behind me because the winds of change are blowing around here.

I am a coffee cake person. It’s official. This big crumb coffee cake will blow your mind. Did I just say that? I think I did. It’s absolutely true. Did I mention there is also rhubarb in this cake? Yes, rhubarb! I can think of nothing better to surprise that special mama’s taste buds as she bites into this delectable cake. It’s moist and sweet, but not too sweet. The sour cream and rhubarb add just the perfect and quite subtle tang. The crumb on top is truly something to behold. It’s big as the name suggests and moist unlike any other crumb topping. I can’t say which I like better. Unlike most cakes, the top and bottom are deliciously addictive in equal measure. That’s the mark of a superb cake.

big crumb coffee cake recipe

big crumb coffee cake recipe

I do hope you try it. Your mother, wife, sister, or whoever you are celebrating will be so happy to have a hunk of this waiting for her on Sunday morning. I do warn you, however, to keep the cake clear of your wee ones. I made the mistake of giving Maeve the tiniest morsel, which caused her to wail for more. She loved it. We all did. In fact, I had to remove the cake from the premises to ensure we did not eat the entire thing in one sitting. It was sad to see the lovely treat go, but our bellies needed a rest.

Oh, and speaking of rest, mom needs one. This mom, in fact, needs one right now. I’ll see you all soon.

big crumb coffee cake recipe

Happy Mother’s Day!

Big Crumb Rhubarb Coffee Cake


1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger


1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup melted butter

1 3/4 cups cake flour


1/3 cup sour cream

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup cake flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.

To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Source: New York Times

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  • May 8, 2012 - | Permalink

    I will grab rhubarb from the farmer’s market on the way home today and make this right away!

    • redmenace
      May 8, 2012 - | Permalink

      Noelle, You will love it! Post pics! xoxo

  • May 8, 2012 - | Permalink

    Hooray for big crumbs! The photos of this cake are making my mouth water. I am definitely a coffee cake person!
    PS. Love the shot of you and your mama – so beautiful.

  • May 8, 2012 - | Permalink

    A gorgeous picture of you and your mother! Happy Mother’s Day to you.

    That cake looks wonderful! Rhubarb is such a wgreat vegetable. Perfect for making mouthwatering treats.



  • May 9, 2012 - | Permalink

    You heard her, Maeve. Go bake this coffee cake so your mom has breakfast ready for her Sunday morning.

  • May 9, 2012 - | Permalink

    The bigger problem is how do I get my husband to become a rhubarb person? I LOVE it, he hates it. I may just have to make this for myself and eat it all in front of him

  • May 9, 2012 - | Permalink

    Love that photo of you and your mom!! So sweet….and so is that coffee cake. I love coffee cake and big crumbs. I think I’ll bake some up this weekend :)

  • May 9, 2012 - | Permalink

    What a cute photo of you and your mom! She looks like such a dear. And Happy Mother’s Day to you!

    I am totally a coffee cake person- although I’ve never had a rhubarb coffee cake. Being a big fan of rhubarb, too, I can’t see how you could go wrong combining the two. I just picked up a bunch of rhubarb stalks and have a recipe picked out to try but this cake is going on my list to try soon.

  • May 10, 2012 - | Permalink

    This is perfect timing Robin! I happen to have a bit of rhubarb on the counter and – until now – no plans for it. Thank you for another great recipe. And Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  • May 10, 2012 - | Permalink

    Everytime I see rhubarb, I think the same, I envy you all, we don´t have that in Spain and I´d love to give it a try. Anyway, Maeve, growing and growing, and what a lovely pic of you and your mom.
    Love from Spain

  • May 11, 2012 - | Permalink

    happy mother’s day, you fantastic mom, you!

    i can’t imagine a better way to celebrate than with a slice of rhubarb cake. and a nap :)

  • May 11, 2012 - | Permalink

    Oooo…big crumb! This looks wonderful and I am sure I will love it. The picture with your Mom is so very sweet :)

  • Melissa Schossow
    May 20, 2012 - | Permalink

    Just made this for a rhubarb baking contest at the school I teach at! Yup, I’m brave I guess, taking a something I’ve never baked before. But this recipe looks great, so I’m excited!

    • redmenace
      May 20, 2012 - | Permalink

      I hope you enjoy it! Thanks so much for your comment. Let me know how it goes!

  • May 21, 2013 - | Permalink

    Yum! The more tasty things to make with rhubarb the better. I’ll be putting this on the hook for baking this weekend.

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