Thinking back on my elementary school days is something I do, I would venture, more often than most. And what I’m constantly amazed by in my work is the number of kids who are able to quite literally, drop everything and read in the midst of a busy classroom. Chaotic would be going too far, but busy, yes. Elementary classrooms have a level of activity about them no matter the grade, and no matter the teacher. It’s a rare occurrence when everyone is engaged in the same event.
When I was in fourth grade, we had SSR–sustained silent reading. As a voracious reader, this should have been the time I loved apart from any other. I could bring my own book from home, the one I read while walking through the house, and sit down, in silence, and enjoy it.
I felt like something was wrong with me, but I absolutely could not concentrate. It was eerily quiet in that room, that room that wasn’t ever quiet, and I never got more than a paragraph under my belt before my mind had wandered somewhere it wasn’t supposed to.
Take my house for example.
When I’m home, I find that all I can see (currently) are the sheets that need to be changed, the pile of hand-wash clothes I’ve been slacking on, the half gallon of paint in the bathroom that has yet to be slapped on the walls, and that Etsy gem I finally purchased that is anxiously awaiting a frame. My mind is cluttered with to-dos in a way that prohibits any level of “work” from being done.
I also always work best with a snack close at hand. Rhubarb season is fleeting and this year’s is almost up. Luckily, I found a way to sneak some into Deb’s gorgeous cake. It’s everything she does best in an everyday cake, which means it was made to be devoured with friends.
To make a 9×13 cake, you will need:
For the cake:
1 1/4 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths on the diagonal
1 1/3 C sugar, divided
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 1/3 C flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/3 C sour cream (I used plain yogurt)
For the crumb:
1 C flour
1/4 C brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
4 T unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan with butter, then line with parchment paper to create a sling for the cake. Deb didn’t say to, but I re-greased the top of the parchment for good measure.
Place the rhubarb in a bowl with 2/3 C sugar and lemon juice, mix, and let sit.
Beat butter, remaining sugar, and lemon zest in bowl of a mixer till light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and ginger. Add one third of this mixture to batter and mix till incorporated. Then add half of the sour cream, another third of the flour, the remaining half of the sour cream, and the last of the flour, stopping after each addition to scrape the bowl.
Dollop batter into prepared pan and smooth out with a knife or offset spatula. Spread rhubarb mixture over top in an even layer.
In a small bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt with a fork. Stir in butter and mix till mixture is crumbly. Spread over top of rhubarb layer.
Bake cake 50-60 minutes until tester comes out clean.
Baker’s note: Man, is this good warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.