It’s official. Sixteen consecutive days of rain. One week of school holidays down. Two more to go. It’s been the wettest June I can remember, hopefully July will be better. I guess we will find out tomorrow. The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a run of sunny days. A full house and steady stream of visitors to feed means more rainy afternoon baking. This week punnets of sweet strawberries and stalks of tart rhubarb were in plentiful supply at the markets. Their rich rosy hues caught my eye. Begging to be transformed into a lush breakfast compote or dessert crumble. Or better still a rhubarb and strawberry buttermilk cake topped with a crunchy hazelnut streusel. Particularly satisfying on a cold, wet winter’s day and at its most delicious served warm from the oven. With our very own barista in residence, we were lucky enough to enjoy our cake with cappuccinos, lattes and espressos to order.
Rhubarb and Strawberry Buttermilk Cake With Hazelnut Streusel
Serves 8. Best eaten the day it is baked.
For the Cake Batter
125g butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups self-raising flour
¾ cup buttermilk
125g whole hazelnuts, 60g reserved for the crumble topping after roasting
For the Hazelnut Streusel
50g butter, cold from the refrigerator
3 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup plain flour
60g hazelnuts roasted and skinned, roughly chopped
For the Fruit Layer
1/2 bunch of rhubarb, trimmed, washed, cut into 2cm lengths
1 x 250g punnet strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
PREHEAT oven to 170 C. Grease and line a 22cm round spring form baking tin with baking paper.
TOAST 125g whole hazelnuts in a dry, heavy based pan until the hazelnuts are aromatic and lightly toasted and the skins have started to crack. Place the hazelnuts in a clean tea towel and gently rub together to remove the bitter skins.
ROUGHLY chop roasted and skinned hazelnuts. Divide into two portions, reserving 60g for the streusel topping and the remainder (65g) for the cake batter.
Prepare the Hazelnut Streusel
WITH your fingertips, rub together the flour, sugar and butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and starts to clump together. Stir through the chopped hazelnuts.
Prepare the Fruit Layer
PLACE prepared strawberries and rhubarb into a bowl. Sprinkle with caster sugar and set aside.
Prepare the Cake Batter
CREAM butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
ADD eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
GENTLY fold in flour, buttermilk and the remaining portion (65g) of roasted, skinned and coarsely chopped hazelnuts.
SPOON the cake batter into the prepared baking tin.
EVENLY top the cake batter with the rhubarb and strawberry mixture.
SPRINKLE the steusel evenly over the fruit layer. Do not press down.
BAKE in a preheated oven for 1 hour or until a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
COOL for 5 minutes before turning out of the tin. Serve warm with cream or ice-cream.