Recipe Review: Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Loaf

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Miss Fats has been hitting the rhubarb pretty damn hard these past few weeks.  However that’s not her fault: blame her produce shop which continues to sell those beautiful red stalks for basically nothing.  Now Miss Fats also can’t resist a deal, so when she sees precious rhubarb on the cheap she feels the obsessive urge to snatch up as much as she can while the prices are low. Her compulsion mixed with the lure of rhubarb and all its sour goodness results in literally purchasing an arm-load that she intends to hoard and savoras the season comes to an end.  Only rhubarb hasn’t left yet.  And nor has the bargain price tag.  So this cycle has literally happened about 3 times. In the last two weeks. Oops.

There are worse problems to have than an excessive amount of rhubarb.  (And yes, she knows that it freezes real well: her freezer currently reflects that.)  It has given Miss Fats the opportunity to embrace spring time in all its bright goodness and force her to experiment with more fruit-centric baked goods.  (Clearly she tends to favor the chocoholic side of the spectrum.)  So she’s now shoved rhubarb into ice cream, crumbles, jams, and compotes. Not all successful or quite right, but some insanely good.  (I’m talkin to you, rhubarb jam.)  However one item has really won over Miss Fats and will have a permanent spot in her recipe book: Smitten Kitchen’s strawberry rhubarb pecan loaf.

Miss Fats has whined about the loaf cake/bread before.  She can never manage to get excited about posting them for you all because the photos inevitably resemble a brownish brick.  And again, with this treat you see just how unphotogenic a loaf can be: above it appears to be a kind of moldy rectangle.  Who wants to eat that?  Oh yeah, that’s right, you definitely want to.  Because this loaf is out of control.  The rhubarb and strawberry kind of melt into the bread and create this crazy perfect sweet/sour bite.  It’s then littered with nuts that provide the perfect crunch for texture contrast.

Miss Fats has altered this recipe a bit: she’s tried out a couple of different nuts and decided to amp up the streusel topping.  Instead of Smitten Kitchen’s traditional streusel, she opted for oatmeal.  This created delightfully crispy, and slightly salty clusters that called upon all fruit crumble dreams to contrast with the super moist cake.  Additionally, she omitted the tbs of rum (only because she didn’t have any on hand) and spiced it up with some cinnamon and ground ginger.  Miss Fats is a huge fan of rhubarb and ginger, so she just couldn’t help herself.  With these additions, you end up with a breakfast loaf that manages to span the space between bread and crumble and offers up an amazing harmony between crunch and cake.

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Since a number of little changes have been made to the original, Miss Fats has provided the altered version of the recipe below. She should note that though she’s now made this loaf a number of times, it comes out slightly different each round.  Depending on the state of your strawberries and rhubarb, your loaf will likely sink a bit.  Have no fear: it’s still a mouth party.  If your strawberries are looking extra juicy, she’d recommend a tbs more flour for your batter, otherwise you might end up with a soggy bottom.   Bleh soggy bottom: two words that should never be consecutive.

Strawberry Rhubarb (Insert Nut) Crumble Loaf:
makes one 9×5 inch loaf
adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Loaf

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup diced strawberries
1/2 cup diced rhubarb
1/4 cup nuts of your choice (Miss Fats recommends pecans or walnuts)

streusel:
2 tbs melted butter
1 tbs sugar
2 tbs flour
1/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup nuts
big pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×5 inch loaf pan.  In a large bowl, mix the sugar, oil, egg and vanilla until blended.  Stir in the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt until it’s just barely incorporated.  Add the yogurt, rhubarb, strawberries and half of the nuts.  Stir until completely combined.  Batter will be very thick.  Pour into the pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine the streusel ingredients.  Using your fingers, mix the topping until all ingredients are evenly distributed.  Crumble the topping over top of the loaf with your fingers.  Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

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Miss Fats has now made three of these loaves and each time they’ve been gobbled up real quick.  She highly recommends just doubling the damn thing so you make sure you have enough precious cake on hand.  (Because like the rhubarb, this shit should be hoarded and gorged upon.)  So get out there now and make this recipe immediately while rhubarb still remains: it’s dire, people.  Miss Fats fears we only have days of this precious season left.  Now if you can bring yourself to part with any of this tasty cake, it makes an excellent gift or crowd pleasing breakfast item.  But again: this requires sharing.  And she’s not sure sharing is caring in this case.

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