Luisa Weiss’s Simple German Rhubarb Cake with Streusel

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The world and news has seemed awfully bitter this week. Yesterday I inadvertently stumbled back upon John Lennon’s song Give Me Some Truth and as I listened to it and I kept hitting repeat and finding how eerily and aptly it seems to fit our current times. I think it needs a resurgence – singers should be bringing this back into their repertoire plus it seemed a perfect song for sing a long at any political gathering where health care is being discussed!

“I’m sick and tired of hearing things
from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is some truth
Just gimme some truth”

I ask is the truth too much to ask for these days? But the thing that is amazing is this song also appears on the same album as Imagine and its hard to not listen to one and then the other and recognize it as 2 sides of the coin – one side demanding truth in a broken world and the other hoping and imagining for a better world we could create together.

“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace….

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”

That was the genius of John Lennon the ability to see and say things about our bitter world and critic it but still dream of a sweeter world and express his hope. It is the thing about life it can be sour but that sourness is what makes the sweet  shine through.

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The sour sweet combination is one I have always loved (I love contradictions!). As a kid I enjoyed Sweet Tarts candies and the way they would make my mouth and cheeks pucker at first and then revel in the sweet with each small pastel candy. As an adult I love it in other places but one of my favorite ways to enjoy the tart and sweet at this time of year is in rhubarb.

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I took a walk through the park on Saturday and after a few days of rain and gray the sky was blue and the air smelled of sweet fresh green grass, a favorite smell of mine and one that especially in New England always makes me happy. The farmers market had huge piles of green/pink rhubarb and I knew that I had to bake it into something sweet and I had just the recipe.

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This recipe comes from Luisa Weiss’s CLASSIC GERMAN BAKING for her Rhabarber Streuselkuchen (Simple Rhubarb Cake with Streusel top). It is the perfect vehicle for rhubarb – a simple delicate and only slightly sweet cake. Just as it is the complexity of John Lennon to sing both Gimme Some Truth and Imagine when you take the sour rhubarb and sink it into a sweet cake covered in streusel and then top it with an only slightly sweet whipped cream you find that the sour and sweet in life work well when we can see and hold and taste them both together. This cake was so delicious I brought it to a friends house and everyone enjoyed it.
Here is to both the sweet and sour in life and here is to hopefully more truth always and never ending capacity to imagine.

Love,
Ramona

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Luisa Weiss’s Simple German Rhubarb Cake with Streusel

Streusel:

¾ cups all purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons butter softened

½ cups almonds ground or chopped optional

  • In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients and working with your fingers rub flour and butter into the size of small lima beans or a pea. Set Streusel aside until after the cake has been assembled.

Cake:

1 pound rhubarb trimmed

¾ cup granulated sugar

7 tablespoons butter

2 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Grated peel of ½ lemon

1-1/2 cups scooped leveled all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup whole milk

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 10-inch cake pan or I used an 8×11 pan with parchment paper, letting the sides hang over the edge to function as a sling.
  • Chop rhubarb into ½ inch pieces and toss with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl cream together butter and remaining 1/2 cup  sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Then beat in the vanilla extract and grated lemon peel.
  • In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat half the mixture into the butter mixture, and then beat in the milk. Continue to beat in remaining flour mixture until well combined.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, distributing it evenly.
  • Scatter the rhubarb over the batter and press it lightly into the batter. It will seem like a lot of rhubarb, but Luisa promises its just right, and it is.
  • Sprinkle streusel evenly over top.
  • Bake  for 65-70 min until batter has puffed up and streusel is golden brown.
  • Cool the cake on a rack. Serve cake at room temperature or cold the next day with a generous dollop of Whipped Cream or as my mom would say “Mit schlag”

Schlagsahne:

1 cup whipping cream

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • Beat with an electric mixer until the cream is stiff. 

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