Aside from food on a stick, food in a jar is one serving idea that always make me smile. Okay, make that a very big grin. I mean, it’s individual portion! It’s adorable! It’s portable! The cute factor means even ordinary food becomes special because it’s served in a jar. Not that there’s anything ordinary about these Rhubarb Big Crumb Coffee Cake I baked in wide-mouth Mason jars. The combination of tender sour cream butter cake and puckery ginger rhubarb filling all topped with boulder-size streusel is classic. This crowd pleaser is a nice twist on New York-style crumb cake.
Since my previous success with using Mason jars as baking vessel, I now look at recipes in a new light. “Can I serve it in a jar?” is a question I often wonder. Of course there are the predictable choices such as crème caramel, rice pudding, trifle, and parfait that lend themselves easily for a Mason jar interpretation. But what about things that are more typically served family-style? Messy dessert such as cobblers and crumbles can be made-over for a streamlined appearance. Besides, it’s a pity not to show off the vibrant colour of the fruit filling through the glass container. However, things get interesting when it comes to dessert that is unconventional to make in individual servings or does not fit well in a jar.
I love streusel topping on coffee cakes. In fact, I would be perfectly happy to eat just the streusel if some bizarre situation arises and I have to choose between streusel and cake. What I don’t love is the mess of crumbs it leaves behind. If you’ve ever sliced into a coffee cake, you know what I’m talking about. Why don’t we see individual size coffee cake more often? Despite every effort to keep things tidy, I always end up with crumbs on the platter, on the table, and on my plate. If I’m not careful, probably on my clothes and a stray crumb on my cheek too. That kind of mess is enough to drive me nuts. Baking the coffee cake directly in a Mason jar solves this problem nicely. Everything is contained in the jar and I can daintily enjoy my coffee cake without worry.
Rhubarb season is quickly coming to an end in Ontario so I’m taking advantage of every last stalk I can get my hands on. Melissa Clark’s recipe for Rhubarb Big Crumbs Coffee Cake was first published in New York Times and is also available in her book In The Kitchen With Good Appetite. What a great idea to pair sweet coffee cake with tart rhubarb! The hint of ginger lends a bit of warmth. The sour cream butter cake is made using the two-stage method, a method I first learned from Rose Levy Beranbaum and it’s my preferred way of mixing butter cake batter. It’s so much easier than creaming the butter and adding wet and dry ingredients in alternating order.
I used 8oz (250mL) wide-mouth Mason jars for the cake. I made 6 in total with a bit of spillage so I imagine 8 would probably be a better yield. If you divide the batter among 8 jars, you can close the lid on each jar perfectly after baking. Coffee cake typically stays fresh at room temperature for a couple of days so making them in individual portions in closable containers just makes sense.
Now, what else should I bake in a jar?