So what makes a good snack cake? Well, it needs to contain a quick burst of sugar to give you some immediate energy, then have something lasting, some protein and fiber, to keep you alert and satisfied so you're not hungry again in an hour or so. This cake absolutely fits the bill. The recipe obviously contains sugar, as does the fruit, in this case either rhubarb or apple. But then you get lasting energy from the protein in the pecans, and the filling sensation from the whole wheat flour. It's really perfection in a slice. I highly recommend you try it. When you hit those afternoon hunger pangs at 3 o'clock and pull out a hearty chunk of homemade cake saved solely for that particular purpose, you'll know what I mean by indulgence. Contrary to most of my recent posts, it doesn't need to be chocolate. It's all about the snack cake.
Rhubarb (or Apple) Snack Cake with Pecan Streusel
(adapted from Cooking Light, May 2008)
2-3 cups finely chopped rhubarb (if frozen, thaw) or tart apple, such as Granny Smith
2 T all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
5 T unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 of a Granny Smith apple, grated with a microplane (omit if using apple instead of rhubarb)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (a little more is fine, especially if using apple instead of rhubarb)
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (opt.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (or sugar in the raw)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 T chilled butter, cubed
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 9x9-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Combine rhubarb or apple in a small bowl with 2 T of flour. Toss; set aside. (This step, coating the fruit with flour, is an excellent idea for any baked good in which fruit needs to be evenly distributed, such as blueberry muffins. The flour provides traction so the fruit does not settle on the bottom of the pan.)
3. Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer. Cream them at medium speed until light and fluffy--it will look like wet sand. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream, grated apple (if using), and vanilla. Beat until well-combined.
4. Whisk flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg (if using), and salt in a medium bowl. Gradually add them (in three batches) to the butter mixture; beat on low speed until just combined.
5. Fold in the fruit. Pour into prepared pan.
6. To prepare the streusel: Combine the turbinado sugar with the cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingers. Add the pecans; toss well. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.
7. Bake at 375 F for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (check after 40 minutes). Cool completely on a cooling rack.
Yield: 12 pieces.