One of the reasons we moved somewhere warm and tropical after Melbourne was that we were sick and fucking tired of the endless Melbourne winters. Every year it seemed as though the bitter cold weather dragged out for longer and longer. Our small terrace house was narrow and old, and only had heating in the lounge room; in winter going to the bathroom in the middle of the night was an extreme sport.
Brisbane, on the other hand, has over 300 days of sunshine a year. It is warm enough to wear sandals most of the year, and even in the heart of winter there is really no need to wear gloves (my poor leather gloves have been sitting unloved in the closet for over three years now!). It is so lovely to live in a climate that doesn’t demand a scarf collection, but every now and then I miss the trappings of cold weather…
This past week, it rained for about four days straight. Alternating between heavy and light, but insistent. On Friday night I had to pop down the road to buy some butter (I had a hot fresh loaf of Oat Soda Bread ready for the eating) and while I was strolling down there was something about the cool breeze bringing up goosebumps on my skin, the bright lights of passing cars reflecting off the shiny black bitumen, the sound of my feet slapping through puddles on the wet cement.
Rainy nights are made for dreaming; for drinking red wine in small bars, for listening to blues, for writing stories and for reading novels, for cuddling a small baby close, for eating soup and for making love. All the sunshine in the world won’t make up for the sweetness of slipping into the heart of a rainy night.
Of course rainy nights – and rainy days – also go so very well with cake. And cake is never a bad thing. And this particular Rhubarb & Hazelnut Crumble Cake is all kinds of tasty. The tartness of the rhubarb is offset by the sweetness of the cake, while the orange rind and roasted hazelnuts add a depth of flavour without being too showy.
This isn’t a one-bowl cake; it takes a bit of time to put together, but it isn’t difficult, and it is well worth taking the time to make. We scoffed it down with whipped cream for dessert, and then again the next day with a cuppa for afternoon tea. Both ways, totally delicious.
Rhubarb & Hazelnut Crumble Cake
1½ cups hazelnuts
1 cup plain flour
½ cup hazelnut meal
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup plain yoghurt
½ cup coconut oil
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
Rind of one orange
1 tbsp orange juice
¾ cup plain flour
¼ cup hazelnut meal
¼ cup oats
½ cup toasted hazelnuts
½ cup raw sugar
80gm butter, cold
Heat oven to 180°c/350°f. Grease a springform pan with butter and set aside.
Toast the hazelnuts by spreading in a single layer on a baking tray and roasting in the preheated oven for approx. 10 minutes, until the skins are crackled and the nuts are aromatic. Take out of the oven and once cool enough to handle remove the skins by rubbing the hazelnuts between your fingertips.
To make the hazelnut meal, put one heaped cup of hazelnuts and two tablespoons of plain flour into a food processor. Pulse a few times to break up the hazelnuts, then grind until it forms a fine meal, approx. 2 – 3 minutes.
Slice the rhubarb into 2cm pieces, discarding the green tops. Mix in a bowl with the orange juice and set aside.
To prepare the crumble topping, start by roughly chopping the remaining ½ cup of toasted hazelnuts. Combine the plain flour, hazelnut meal, crushed hazelnuts, oats, and raw sugar in a bowl. Chop the cold butter into small cubes and add to the bowl, using your fingertips to mix into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Store in the fridge while you prepare the cake batter.
In a large bowl cream together the brown sugar and coconut oil. Add the eggs, yoghurt, and orange rind and mix to combine. In another bowl sift together the flour, hazelnut meal, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined, taking care not to over-mix.
Spoon the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and smooth into an even layer using the back of the spoon. Layer the rhubarb on top of the batter and top it all off with the crumble, using your fingers to spread the crumble across the rhubarb evenly.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, until the crumble topping is golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean of batter (the rhubarb will leave juice on the skewer, which is totally fine).
Cool in the pan for at least 30 mins. before turning out. Serve warm or cold. Best consumed fresh, but will keep covered in the fridge for 2 – 3 days.