Once again I am finding it difficult to sit in front of my computer to write. I wish I found it easier. But with so many things and changes going on in life it is not the easiest task at hand. All the travel I did at the beginning if the year had left me terribly jet lagged. I usually bounce back easily, but this time around I found it harder and harder to get into my grove. The only assumption I could come up with as to why is that I had no real structure or schedule to assist me to get back in the swing.
With my job still being out of commission due to construction and remodeling, I was forced to go on unemployment. With unemployment you have to actively seek out jobs. I looked at this as an opportunity to see and learn all I can about other “pastry and restaurant life”. I sent out resumes to everyone and anyone who had a job posting about pastry; along with blankly applying to restaurants I admire. To my surprise I heard back from just about everyone of them, and then some. My weekly day to day was instantly filled with interviews and “stages” (working interviews). I was amazed at what I saw, learned, and gathered from all of these bakeries and restaurants in Seattle. I had all intentions of bringing back that knowledge to the restaurant job that was waiting for me post construction.
That was until I met with a chef / restaurant owner who was in need of hiring a pastry chef. This restaurant was itself amongst a move and a remodel (something I have become all too familiar with). I ended up hitting it off well with the chef and he offered me a job. This restaurant is a farm to table concept, that changes it’s menu about every two weeks, along with doing nine corse tasting menus & wine pairings. It sounded intriguing and inspiring all at the same time. Yet, never in my life had I felt so torn and conflicted. I was so excited about the new opportunity I had been given, and yet, I was also filled with all this torment & agony about this decision. You see, I spent the last three years with my current chef, coworkers, and restaurant staff … in that time, we have learned and had grown together. There was no easy way to tell them goodbye, but in the bottom of my heart I knew it was time to move on.
My mind began to feel beyond stressed with the start of the new job. What desserts do I put on the first menu? How should the dessert look? How should that dessert taste? What breads should I bake? What breads do people want to eat? Could the bread I have baked taste any better? Is it good enough? Am I good enough? Maybe I should stay with my old job? Did I get more than four hours sleep? What about the next menu change? What should I create for that menu? And on, and on it goes… Needles to say I am well into this new job by over a month now. All has been going well. And, I am getting much more sleep! My stress and anxiety have subsided to a somewhat normal level too. All has been balancing out well and I am finding my grove and place in this new adventure.
Funny thing though, the day before I went on the interview for this job I was at the market when I saw the first rhubarb of the season. I have desperately been awaiting for spring to arrive amongst all this other stuff that has been going on in my life. You see, Seattle has been terribly rainy and unseasonably chilly this winter. The sight of rhubarb was a glimpse of hope that warmer weather and blue skies are not too far away; change was coming. I baked up a Rhubarb Crumb Cake, that was moist and buttery. The crumb topping was spiced with cinnamon that complimented, and mellowed out the tartness of the rhubarb ever so slightly. I sat and enjoyed the cake with a cup of tea. It was just what I needed in so many ways. That Is why I am leaving you with the recipe. Hopefully you can make it and indulge in it's deliciousness. I think the Rhubarb Crumb Cake brought on many more opportunities than the hope of spring; little did I know that at the time. I hope it works the same magic for all of you.
Rhubarb Crumb Cake (makes one 8-9 inch cake)
8 oz Rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/4 - 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 oz butter
First, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and parchment line an 8 - 9 inch cake pan. In a bowl, toss together all the ingredients for your filling, let it sit together at room temperature until needed. Your rhubarb will leak out it’s juices and combine with the sugar and cornstarch.
Next, in another bowl place the ingredients from your crumb topping except for the butter. Toss it all together. Once it is mixed well sprinkle in your butter. using your fingers to mix together and get clumps to form. Place the bowl in the freezer to allow the crumbs to chill throughout.
Then, in the bowl of a standing mixer, place your flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix it together. In another bowl whisk together your sour cream, egg, yolk, and vanilla; then set aside. Place your butter on top of your flour mixture and mix using the paddle attachment on low speed, until the butter is broken up into very small, pea size pieces. Add in the sour cream mixture and stir together until just combined.
Finally, pour the cake batter in the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Over the top of the cake batter place the rhubarb, and all of its juices evenly across the cake. Remove the crumb topping from your freezer and add it over the rhubarb. Breaking it up as needed to sprinkle, but leaving it in crumb form. Bake in the center of your oven for about 45 minutes, rotating it half way though. It is done when a toothpick tests clean from the center of the cake . Let rest about 30 minutes, before removing from the pan. let cool to room temperature and serve.