Saturday, March 10, 2007

strawberry rhubarb pecan loaf

strawberry rhubarb pecan cake

I should apologize for the lewdness of this title—or perhaps you should, for that gutter mind—but I’ve always been endlessly amused by the “put some South in your mouth” logo painted on the wall of the Carolina BBQ joint and frat-boys-living-out-their-glory-days haven, Brother Jimmy’s. Really, it’s just about the only thing I enjoyed about the place the innumerable times a certain ex-boyfriend of mine with a ACC basketball bent dragged me there under duress or pleading. The bar’s menu consists things like fried pickles, green tomatoes and corn fritters and something frightening called a “flaming pig pick,” and while I am not one to argue that these are indeed Southeastern flavors, my associations have always been in sweeter, homier places: berry pies, cobblers and pretty much anything that has known, been adjacent to or looked at a pecan in it’s life.

strawberry rhubarb pecan cake

Last week, so eager for the Spring weather, a getaway, and yes, some South in our mouths, I made a strawberry rhubarb pecan cake, in hopes to get our palates into gear. It was delicious, and demolished by my coworkers in no time, but always the nit-picker, I wasn’t overwhelmed with it. It didn’t rise enough, I wanted more fruit, more grit, and more adherence: slices would crumble into smaller pieces when you picked them up and the sprinkled-on topping fell of as soon as I flipped it out of the pan, much to the disappointment of my husband, who had just swept the kitchen floor. I know I should have let it go—hell, it was plenty tasty—but I couldn’t in good conscience tell you to make something that I knew had structural issues. See how earnest I can be? It’s nauseating, really.

Of course, my tweaks just had to involve a splash of booze, but you probably knew that was coming. More egg, fruit, baking soda, some whole wheat flour, baking soda and a real crumb topping fix other ills, though it still didn’t stick as much as I’d wanted it to, and could be easily nixed. I like it a lot though, and it’s going right into the repertoire alongside banana bread and lemon loaves. Don’t wouldn’t underestimate the power of a few Southern flavors in a snow-strewn city; just two days later, it’s 50 degrees and sun has been promised for tomorrow. Dare I declare spring on the horizon? I’d never be so presumptuous, but I will have more cake.

strawberry rhubarb pecan cake

Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Loaf

Makes one loaf

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon rum
1 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup diced rhubarb
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Topping (Optional)
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 to 3 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Beat together the brown sugar, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla and rum. Combine the flours, salt and baking soda; stir. Add dry ingredients to first mixture with the sour cream. Stir in strawberries, rhubarb and pecans.

Spread into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan — the batter will be very thick. Combine topping ingredients except the pecans, they should be thick and clumpy; add the pecans last and sprinkle over the loaf.

Bake at 350° for about 55 to 65 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.


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