vegan rhubarb apple coffee cake


Rhubarb is kind of a mystery to me. I'd really like to know how it got stuck in the strictly sweet application. Not that I'm complaining, but is that weird to anyone else? I've pretty much never seen it served in anything other than a dessert. Still, I'm sure whoever came up with this system had a pretty good reason. I mean, I have followed my curiosity long enough to try a raw piece of rhubarb and it doesn't exactly taste, well, good.

So whoever came to the realization that with a little time in the oven and some added sugar, rhubarb really turns into something special, into something that makes me look forward to its brief appearance in spring, its bright red stalks unmistakable on the farmers' market tables: thanks. You can have a little credit for how great this coffee cake turned out (but just a little).

Pies, sure, jams and even parfaits (had one last night, in fact), but what about a rhubarb coffee cake, I asked myself. Turns out, I wasn't the only one. But even if every good idea already exists, it doesn't mean it can't improved upon, right? And there's always more room for such improvements in the vegan baking spectrum.

This cake is perfect for a weekend treat. I decided to try it out on a pretty dreary Saturday morning and the bright notes in the green apple and red rhubarb immediately perked me up. That and the coffee, anyway.

For this recipe, you'll need:

For the cake:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 2 tablespoons water, well mixed
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, thinly sliced**
1/2 cup apple, peeled and diced***

For the crumb topping:

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegan butter, cold

**What I found worked best was to slice each rhubarb stem length-wise and then thinly slice from there. But do what you want! If you want bigger chunks, that will be great, too.
***I went with Granny Smith, a classic baking apple. But use what you have! It's all good.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. In a measuring cup, combine your almond milk and vinegar. Whisk vigorously and set aside to curdle. In a small pinch bowl, mix together your flaxseed meal and water and allow to set, about 3 minutes.

In a separate smaller bowl, mix together your coconut oil, vanilla and sugar. Gradually add in your almond milk mixture and stir well. Finally, add your flax egg and whisk once more.

Fold your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients. Next, fold in your sliced fruit (rhubarb is a fruit, right?**) until evenly dispersed, about 10 solid folds. Transfer to a 8 or 9-inch square pan, lightly greased (you can use coconut oil for this as well, but any nonstick spray will do).

Quickly add all your crumb topping ingredients to a small bowl and break up/mash together with a fork. You may have to get hands on for any bigger vegan butter chunks, but no complaints here. When you've broken everything down into bite-sized crumbs (think no bigger than a dime), evenly sprinkle the crumb topping on your cake.


Transfer to your oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until 1. the top is golden, 2. the crumbs are golden, 3. the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan or 4. a toothpick comes out clean. All the above is your best case scenario and most likely what will turn out to to be the perfect coffee cake.

If you can stand it, allow to cool (in the pan) for about 5-10 minutes when it comes out of the oven. This just makes it a tad easier to cut so you don't miss all those rhubarb and apple pieces when it comes to scooping it out of the pan. If you can't wait, I understand. We all do.

How else can you get more rhubarb in your life?
**Even better, you can also make your own!