Green, pink and beige: Rhubarb streusel coffee cake

I can’t get enough of green and pink right now. It’s a chic colour combination any time of year (how much do I love this green and pink kids’ party theme?) but it’s particularly fetching in springtime. Especially when it’s dressed up as a vegetable.

After picking up another bunch of green and pink rhubarb delight at the farmers’ market on Sunday, I knew exactly what I would do with this week’s haul.

Awhile back my mum and I were corresponding about Nigel’s rhubarb cornmeal cake, when she sent me this recipe for another rhubarb cake from Les Fougères, a charming fine-dining restaurant in Chelsea, Quebec. While you could imagine Nigel’s cake on a dessert table next to a jug of custard, Les Fougères’ recipe sounded like a treat for the morning coffee klatsch (is anyone lucky enough to still host coffee klatsches?) or to munch with an afternoon cup of tea.

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Then, I saw this rhubarb strawberry coffee cake at Dana Treat. I couldn’t get the bright redness of the filling and the crunch of the streusel out of my mind. So I married Les Fougères’ batter and Dana’s topping (with a couple of additions) and their union became this exceptionally moist dream of a cake:

Sadly, as rhubarb is wont to do, it went a little beige and anemic-looking. No matter; the taste and texture make up for it pale demeanour.

Coffee, anyone?

Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake
Cake adapted from A Year at Les Fougères
Topping adapted from Dana Treat

2 cups (220 g) plain or all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups (250 g) brown sugar (if you like things sweet, use an extra 1/4 cup)
1 egg
1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups (350 g) chopped rhubarb, in 1-inch pieces

Streusel topping:
1/4 cup (30 g) flour
3 T brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
pinch of salt
2 T (30 g) cold butter, diced
2 T rolled oats
1/4 cup (20 g) chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 350F / 176C. Grease an 8-inch round or square cake pan (a springform pan is easiest for unmoulding, as this is a very moist cake).

For the streusel: Combine all the topping ingredients, except for the oats and nuts, in a food processor or blender. Turn on the machine and pulse a couple of times, just until the butter is cut in and everything is combined. Stir in the oats and chopped nuts, and set aside.
For the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk in the brown sugar.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients. When there are only a few patches of flour left, add the rhubarb and gently mix in.

Scrape the batter into the pan and scatter the streusel topping over the top. Bake 40 to 45 minutes in the centre of the oven, until the top is set and a thin knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool before sifting over icing sugar, if desired.