Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake

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This is Mother's Day weekend and that means brunch.  If you happen to be hosting one or contributing food to one, have I got the coffee cake for you!  I became acquainted with this scrumptious cake many years ago through my then boyfriend, now husband's grandmother.  It is a tender, buttery cake that is layered with a strawberry-rhubarb filling, topped with a little more batter, then sprinkled with a sugary streusel.  It is moist, sweet, seasonally fruity, and it feeds a crowd.

One note on making this cake, the filling needs to be cooled completely before assembling.  That said, you can make the filling the day before, refrigerate it, and bring it to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake
serves 16-20

For the Filling
2 cups diced rhubarb
3 cups diced strawberries, smashed
1 1/2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch

For the Cake
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 /2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk at room temperature

For the Topping
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

For the Filling
In a small bowl combine the sugar and cornstarch; set aside.  In a large saucepan combine the rhubarb, strawberries, and lemon juice.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the fruit has broken down and is juicy, about 5 minutes.  Add the cornstarch mixture.  Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until thickened.  Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and allow to cool completely before proceeding with the recipe.

For the Topping
In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar and flour.  Stir until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.

For the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F.  Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing excess to overhang for easy removal, and spray lightly with non-stick baking spray.  (I like to lift out many baked goods rather than cutting them directly in the pan and damaging my pan with the knife).  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla.  Add half  the buttermilk alternating with half the flour mixture.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat until the mixture is thoroughly combined.  Spread two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan.  Carefully spread the cooled filling mixture over the batter.  Drop remaining batter over filling and gently even out using an offset spatula.  Sprinkle topping over second batter layer.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.  Allow the cake to cool completely before serving.  Cut into 16-20 slices.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from my husband's grandmother, the late Eleanor Brown of Sparta, Wisconsin


  1. We have 4 rhubarb plants. I can't wait to try this cake!

  2. Family recipes are the best! Love that you got this from your husband's grandmother - and she was from Sparta! We visited there ourselves once to go bike riding and stayed at this cute Victorian B&B.

  3. Happy mother's day Nicole! Thanks for passing along one of grandma's recipes. It was perfect to bring to our mother's day brunch yesterday and it was a big hit.

  4. Strawberry picking starts here in New Jersey next week and I'm on the lookout for yummy new things to try. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Oh wow this looks amazing too! I'm looking for blog contributors right now and think you would be great. Here's more info http://www.iheartnaptime.net/2011/05/looking-for-blog-contributors.html

  6. Thanks for the recipe. Nicole, could you clarify ingredients for the topping:
    1/4 (stick, cup????) )unsalted butter, melted
    3/4 (cup ????) granulated sugar ?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Thanks for finding the typo. Recipe edited.


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