just a smidgen

The Big Dress Rehearsal

Rhubarb "Big Crumb" Coffee CakeThe Dress Rehearsal

ever constant, she waited

in the wings

enduring years of performances

successes and failures

missed lines



through it all, she was there

the understudy

ingenuously taking it all in

riveted.. and waiting for

her chance to


as a small child she was

the star

delighting all who were content

just to be near…

that was



time and circumstance

intervened.. set the stage for

the cast and characters to change

and the show must

go on

unwavering belief

the dogged biding of time

and a lifetime of


had brought her


to this moment of

stepping out from behind curtains

under the full glare of

stage lights

where her life’s consummate masterpiece

is finally


Barbara Bamber, 2012

 Whew! It was a BIG WEEKEND full of BIG SURPRISES!! I lost my place TWICE during concert rehearsal and much panic and flurry of pages ensued. It was almost impossible to bow with shaking hands… but the Concert went off without a hitch! I guess that’s why we have rehearsals!

But the BIGGEST SURPRISE of all, was that my cousin and her husband drove to Calgary to visit us this past weekend! It’s been… well.. let’s just say, too many years to count since we last saw each other. That’s my brother Mike on the left.. me in the middle and Marilee on the right…

You all have to know she is my Firstest and Bestest cousin and I’m her BIGGEST FAN.. always have been, always will be. I recognized her voice the instant we connected by phone, the infectious laughter and sweet voice were unmistakably hers. As a child, Marilee sang on Popcorn Playhouse and sang a solo for the CBC Canadian Centennial Children’s Concert. She’s an artist, award winning gardener and my rock star!! We have so much in common.. and just being together took me back to my childhood. I was great to feel like a kid again!

Adorable Cousin Marilee and husband George… WE ♥ YOU!!

So.. about this RHUBARB “BIG CRUMB” COFFEE CAKE that I couldn’t wait to make for our concert.  I finally spied gorgeous, thick stems of BIG RHUBARB at the market! I had an absolutely crazy schedule this week, so stumbled out of bed around 6 am on Thursday to get this baby into the oven.

Then I chucked it into the freezer, thawed it out on the weekend, then went to slice it for the concert.. aaannndd the center was raw… Yeah, pretty much just a BIG MESS. Thankfully, my awesome husband came to the rescue by picking up a few emergency Crave Cupcakes on his way to the concert.

My mom suggested I just microwave it, but I had the time, so I just threw it back in the oven and…  it actually finished baking! I’m not sure if doubling the recipe was the problem.. or using Cake Flour? But I know I followed the recipe, right down to the last teaspoon. “Smitten Kitchen” had used all-purpose flour… and I got to thinking that might be a “sturdier” flour to use next time.

I also found that this recipe made a massive BIG BOWL of BIG CRUMB TOPPING, just thinking about that much sugar gave me a headache!! So I tucked some away for another recipe and another day.. maybe the birthday cake I’m making for Sharon.. hmmm…


Rhubarb Big Crumb Coffee Cake
Cook time
Total time
For the rhubarb filling:
  • 1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
For the crumbs:
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
For the cake:
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.
  2. *It’s important to follow these next steps in order to attain a Big Crumb: In a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.
  3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.
  4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.
  5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake (I saved about 1/3 of the crumb topping for another dish.) Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. If you’re uncertain, take two forks and gently “pry” the cake apart in the middle to ensure it is fully cooked.
  6. Cool completely before serving.
From the New York Times


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