The Best Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Cake

It's Strawberry and Rhubarb season which makes this one of my most favorite times of the year to bake!  Strawberry-Rhubarb is the ultimate sweet/tart combination and pairs so dreamily with this feather-light cake topped with lots of golden crumbs! 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Cake
(adapted from a recipe developed by Emily Donahue for Rosey's Coffee and Tea)

1 1/4 cups chilled butter, plus more, softened for the pan
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (approx. 2 lemons)
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces (approx. 3 stalks)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups lowfat buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Butter a 9x12x3 baking pan.  Line with parchment paper so that it overhangs the long sides (so the cake can be easily lifted out after baking).  Butter the parchment.  Set aside.

Make the strawberry-rhubarb compote by combining the lemon juice, cornstarch and 1 cup of sugar in a medium saucepan.  Add strawberries and rhubarb.  Cook, stirring frequently over medium heat, until rhubarb is sot and liquid has thickened (15-20 minutes).  Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to cool.

Prepare the crumb topping by combining 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cups flour in a medium bowl.  Melt 1/4 cup butter, then drizzle over the flour mixture.  Stir with a fork.  Use hands to compact mixture into large handful sized portions.  Then, gently crumble the portions into smaller crumbs.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the cake batter by mixing the remaining 3 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer (with the balloon whisk attachment).  Cut the remaining cup of butter into small cubes.  With mixer running on medium speed, add butter cubes, one at a time.  Remove bowl from stand and use your fingers to break down any remaining large pieces of butter.  Return bowl to stand and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. (This can also be done with a hand-held mixer, or by hand with two forks or a pastry blender)

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Pour into the flour mixture and stir, by hand, as little as possible, just till combined.

Spread half of the cake batter evenly into the prepared pan.  Top with half of the fruit compote.  Carefully spread the remaining batter over the fruit.  Evenly spread the remaining compote on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the crumb topping.

bake until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched in the center -- about 1 hour.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.  Remove from the pan by lifting the overhanging parchment on the sides.  Cut into squares.  Serve warm with fresh whipped cream, or at room temperature.

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