March 27, 2010 § 4 Comments

So last week our house was robbed. And robbed very mysteriously – we still haven’t figured out how they got in. That makes me extra nervous, since we can’t fix the problem to make sure it doesn’t happen again. On the other hand, we no longer own anything valuable so I guess future robberies wouldn’t be so bad.

This left us all a little nervous though, as it’s a bit of a shock to realize how easy it is for someone to invade your private space. Almost all of us, that is – one of my roommates is from South Africa and has been burglarized (it’s a word!) a dozen times or so already. He’s mildly amused at our alarm, and thinks we were tempting fate just by not having bars on the windows. I suppose he may have a point.

I reacted mainly by whipping up a batch of my favourite comfort food: chocolate chip cookie dough. I actually baked most of it into cookies! The internet has about a bazillion and one chocolate chip cookie recipes on it already, and this one isn’t particularly distinctive in any way, so I don’t think it’s really worth sharing. The cake I made, though, may be my favourite coffee cake in the world. I’ve been waiting almost a year for rhubarb to come back into season so that I could bake it, and when I finally saw gorgeous pink stalks at the grocery store, I leaped! Like the rhubarb-eating ninja that I am.

This cake is moist and tender, and wonderfully tart from the rhubarb. Also, it’s bedecked with a generous helping of crumb topping. It’s also an effective antidote to burglar-nervousness, should you ever need that, but I’m hoping that you won’t. Lock your doors!

Rhubarb Crumb Coffee Cake – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


  • 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 (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups flour (you may need slightly more or less to get a stiff dough)


  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup 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 a 9-inch round or 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 sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment (I just used the beaters on my hand mixer), 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.



§ 4 Responses to burglarized

  • Kaitlin says:

    Oh my gosh! I am so sorry to hear that! I hope you are able ti find out exactly how they got in, because I know how much that would bother me 😦

    I have to say though; you did just what I would to remedy the situation! Both the cookies and the cake look delicious. I remember seeing the latter on Deb’s site and wanting to try it. I’m holding out for my Aunt’s rhubarb until I make it though! Thank you for the reminder!

  • KarenLana says:

    How terrible! I’m so sorry and can imagine how unnerving it must be for you. I hope things get back to normal very soon.

    The cake and cookies look really tasty. I’ve never baked with rhubarb (my husband doesn’t like it) but I think I’m going to give your Ninja Rhubarb recipe a go! It looks great.


  • kathy says:

    You should really be cautious and be aware now. By the way your coffee cake makes me crave for it. I’m not familiar with rhubarb though. 🙂

  • Laura says:

    yup, I’m being careful.

    kathy and Karenlana: thanks! If you haven’t baked with rhubarb before, I really do recommend it. Once it’s baked for long enough it softens and becomes a fantastic blend of tart and sweet. It adds a nice fruitiness to the coffee cake without making it too sugary.

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