Ingredient Highlights: Fresh Ginger and Vanilla Beans in Warm Strawberry (and Rhubarb) Crumb Cake
Two ingredients have repeatedly made an appearance in my kitchen for weeks now. I find myself infatuated with the hunt for recipes containing these two ingredients or recipes that could use a touch of one or both of these flavors. Fresh ginger and vanilla beans.
I go out of my way to use freshly grated/minced ginger and spend the money on the expensive vanilla beans. It’s worth it. The flavors are more intense and take the dish to a whole other level. Really. You’ll notice a difference. Here’s a video from Nina at Chow showing you how to get the seeds from the bean. Easy peasy.
The same goes for fresh ginger. Here’s a video (from Chow again) on how to grate fresh ginger (peel first of course). It’s such a versatile ingredient. The knobby root can be added to sweet and savory dishes, is used for medicinal purposes and my favorite, is the highlight of ginger ale along with other drinks. (FYI-that’s a link to my homemade ginger ale recipe.)
This dessert (breakfast, brunch, snack, etc.) is amazing. Strawberries with these two ingredients (and a few others) and it’s as good-beyond good-as you think it would be. Strawberry season is here so take advantage of it and make this crumb cake. I suggest eating this when it’s warm with some ice cream on the side. Ah-mazing I tell you. If you’d like, toss in a few stalks of chopped rhubarb
Warm Strawberry (and Rhubarb) Crumb Cake adapted from a Lottie + Doof recipe which was adapted from a Gerald Craft recipe in Food & Wine
Serves 8 to 10
3 lbs. strawberries, hulled and halved (8 cups)
a few stalks rhubarb, chopped-optional
1/2 cup sugar (increase to 2/3 cup with rhubarb)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 1/2 tbsp of water
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350F. For the filling, in a large bowl, toss the strawberries ans optional rhubarb with the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch (dissolved in the water), vanilla seeds and ginger. Set aside until the berries release some of their juices, about 25 to 30 minutes. Pour the mix into a glass or ceramic baking dish set on a baking sheet. (It might splatter, bubble and ooze.)
For the crumb topping, in a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients with your fingers until coarse then press into small clumps.
For the cake, in a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until it’s light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time (beat well between each one). Stir in the vanilla extract and scrape down the bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the batter in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk.
Spoon the batter over the berries. Spread it to the edge. Sprinkle with the crumb topping. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling, the crumb topping is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool slightly then serve warm (or at room temperature). The cake will keep overnight in the refrigerator but reheat before serving. Maybe add ice cream to the side and enjoy!