Because the streusel is used twice in this bread, I wanted to get that out of the way so I wouldn't have to stop halfway through and get that together. Rich brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour and our favorite Vietnamese cinnamon were tossed together with just a touch of melted butter until the ingredients were thoroughly moistened and a little crumbly. You won't need this for a few minutes, so set it aside and continue on.
My plan was to incorporate a bit of whole-wheat pastry flour, until I went to the pantry and found its container empty! It was on the list to get this weekend, but still I had plenty of all-purpose flour and that worked just fine. If you have some and want to incorporate it in, try replacing a half cup to a full cup of the all-purpose with it for a bit of extra nutrition. Since fresh orange juice was used as the liquid to bring the dry ingredients together, I did blend in a bit of its oily zest while the butter and sugar were creaming together to reinforce its brightness. I will warn you that once you pour in the juice, the butter will most likely have a curdled appearance - don't go crazy trying to beat it smooth though. Once the dry ingredients are added, its smoothness will come back.
Just before those dry ingredients fully disappear into the batter, toss in the diced rhubarb and gently fold just until the rhubarb looks evenly distributed to keep from overworking the mix. Since we want a swirl inside the loaf, half the batter is added to the loaf pan, followed by a portion of that streusel we had already prepared. The remaining thick batter is spread over the top, with the rest of that sugary streusel scattered on top. Done place the pan in the oven just yet - to make your life easier when you go to turn the baked bread out and slice it, take a minute to gently press that streusel into the raw batter slightly to give it some sticking power. That quick action will help the batter grab hold and let it sink in slightly as it bakes, allowing it not to crumble off nearly as much. Unlike most muffins or a clean-topped quickbread, you can't expect to check for doneness by simply pressing on the top to see if it bounces back at you. The streusel on top melts a bit, creating a sugary, somewhat crisp topping that creates a barrier - use a long, thin skewer to check instead.
Since I only made one loaf, Jeff and I just split a slice so we had enough to go around when he brought them in. That was such a mistake on my part - if I were to replay Wednesday when I made this, I would have totally doubled this recipe so we would have had one loaf just for us to devour! The orange juice was a nice touch to this bread because not only did it add dimension, but how its natural sweetness partied along side the tart rhubarb was refreshing! With its moist interior and nice tight crumb, Jeff tried to convince me that we could make another one later for him to share and he would just keep it hush hush. However, I had enough rhubarb that I knew I was going to scratch my plans for this morning's treat and make this again!
Rhubarb Streusel Bread