Rhubarb cake.

I didn't plan to wake up as early as I did this morning, but I think anyone who has pets knows that sometimes they determine what morning is. I have a chinchilla and a young black cat. Both are curious little troublemakers, but at least the chinchilla has a cage to be in. He "bathes" in a little house-shaped container with a round bottom that I fill with very fine dust so he can roll around (frollicking, looks like, throwing dust everywherrrree) and keep his fur soft-soft. My cat, however, loves the dust, too, and this morning I awoke to him poking his paw into the dust bath and shaking it out all over the floor.

Anyway, I was awake. So I decided to put the rhubarb that I got the other day to good use. It's kind of a funny vegetable, isn't it? The plant doesn't look like anything special, and its stalks are really bitter if eaten raw. Gross, actually. And yet they're mixed with a ton of sugar and they become almost fruit-like -- and YUMMY. Last summer I made a rhubarb crumble of some sort, but this time I wanted to avoid the potential for over-sweetness that comes with a lot of crumbles. I also had a couple limitations: a finite amount of rhubarb (I wanted to be able to split it between two recipes until I can get some more), and a single egg (the farm-fresh eggs; it's hard to go back to regular old dumb mass-produced eggs now).

Mm, fresh, local produce!

The result is something along the lines of a coffee cake. Here it is, adapted from a combination of two recipes: one from the lovely Minnesota Locavore and a few from the cakes page of the Rhubarb Compendium.

The recipe I ended up with is the following:

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour (as an experiment, I might try self-rising flour next time, or half-and-half)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups rhubarb, chopped

1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Prepare a 9x13" baking pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine ingredients for the topping in a small bowl and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla until well-mixed.
4. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda.
5. Add 1/2 of flour mixture to the brown sugar mixture, and 1/2 of the buttermilk. Beat by hand until blended completely, then add remaining flour and buttermilk and beat until smooth.
6. Gently fold in rhubarb.
7. Pour into a baking dish and evenly sprinkle topping over the batter. Bake 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the middle clean.

Serve warm, room temp, or cool. I served it with tangy vanilla frozen yogurt and a cup of coffee. Yummyyyyy.

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