Our colleague Sally Ericson regularly brings this coffeecake to the office during rhubarb season. All her many cakes are fabulous, but this one might, ahem, take the cake.

Serves 16-20

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-x-13-inch pan.

To make the filling, put 3 cups rhubarb (chopped in 1-inch pieces) in a large saucepan with 1 quart fresh, mashed strawberries and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Combine, cover the pot and cook the mixture over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Combine 1 cup sugar with 1/3 cup cornstarch; stir the mixture into the fruit. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened, just a few minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To make the cake, combine 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon each baking powder and baking soda and a ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Cut in 1 cup chilled butter (in pieces) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Beat together 1½ cups buttermilk, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir the liquid ingredients into the crumb mixture. Spread half of the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Carefully spread the cooled fruit filling on top. Drop the remaining batter by tablespoons over the filling.

To make the topping, melt ¼ cup butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in ¾ cup all-purpose flour and ¾ cup sugar until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the batter. Lay aluminum foil on a lower oven rack to catch any juicy fruit spillovers, then place the coffee cake on the middle oven rack. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut in squares.

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