We spent the weekend on the Oregon coast, soaking up the natural beauty, exploring the marine creatures of the intertidal zone,
and consuming them for dinner (recipe: purchase a pound of mussels and clams and a decent bottle of white wine. Make a simple tomato sauce, add as much of the wine as you're willing to spare, steam the shellfish in the sauce until they open up, and eat them over linguini, accompanied by the remaining wine).
Food always taste better after a long stroll on the beach. And there's a certain pleasure to cooking with minimal equipment and supplies, a reminder that some of the tastiest food is the simplest, like fresh baked bread.
We did have an important cooking task at hand, since it was my husband's birthday. Rather than a cake, my daughter and I had decided to make him a rhubard ginger buckle, from the cookbook Rustic Fruit Dessert by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. Everything I've made from this cookbook has been delicious, including another buckle, a cobbler, and a birthday pandowdy, but this is our favorite. My daughter had laboriously copied out the recipe, and we'd packed rhubarb and candied ginger. With no electric beater, we had to recruit the birthday boy into helping cream the butter, sugar, and eggs.
The rest came together easily. The sliced rhubarb is simply folded into the cake batter, which is topped with a candied ginger crumble.
The final buckle is a delicious combination of tart fruit and sweet, spicy ginger topping. Perfect for a beachside birthday celebration.
Rhubarb Buckle with Ginger Crumb
from “Rustic Fruit Desserts” by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup finely chopped candied ginger
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 2 ½ cups, or 5 stalks)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round baking pan with butter.
2. To make the topping, mix sugar, flour and candied ginger together in a bowl, then stir in melted butter, until well combined. Place crumb in freezer while you mix cake batter – this chills the crumb so it will not immediately melt into the cake when baked.
3. To make the cake, whisk flour, baking powder, ginger, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Using a hand-held mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and scraping down sides of the bowl as you progress. Gently fold in rhubarb.
4. Spread batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle ginger crumb over the cake. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm on top.
Wrapped in plastic wrap, the cake will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Makes 8-12 servings.