Rhubarb…..you love it or you hate it. Or more likely you have a not so fond childhood memory of a pie that Grandpa liked but a flavor you didn’t really “get”. With strawberries it was ok, especially “a la mode” but you’d rather just had the ice cream. Rhubarb is a vegetable after all and tasted awful raw. How could it be good as a dessert? Now all grown up, you should give it another try.
Rhubarb is one of my favorite flavors, ushering in the fresh fruit season of summer. It is the first bright flavor after a long winter of apples and spice. We love to bake with it at Pacific Sourdough but my garden patch struggles to keep up with the demand and it is sometimes hard to find wholesale in the quantities we need. Last year when the supply seemed particularly short and my regular grower had not yet been in touch, my husband Mike suggested I place an ad in the local “garage sale” flyer. I figured I had little to lose as the ad cost me just $3 and ran for 4 weeks, it read “Pacific Sourdough now buying rhubarb $2 a pound, call Katie”. It was a delightful surprise when, on the Thursday morning the flyer hit the grocery store news stand, the phone began to ring. By 10 o’clock I had 4 offers to deliver rhubarb in quantities from as little as 4 pounds to as much as 20. I also had an invitation to come by and pick my own out of someones yard! By Friday I had more rhubarb than I had hoped and began to plan the wonderful things to bake for the weekend Farmers Market. All summer long those nice folks kept coming by the bakery with their harvest. We had locally grown rhubarb for everything we wanted to make and our customers were happy. It’s a joy to live in a small town!
We have lots of customers who love the rhubarb desserts we make. It’s an old-timey thing you just can’t buy at the store. We bake a wicked Rhubarb Upside Down Cake, a delicious Rhubarb Raspberry (or as we sometimes say “Rhubarry Raspbarb) Galette and of course Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. I could go on in a Forrest Gump kind of list but you know what I mean, Rhubarb Scones, Rhubarb Muffins, Rhubarb Coffee Cake…They are all good!
I’m sharing the Rhubarb Cake recipe with you today, give it a go, it’s a winner! When I first started making it, Mike ate a cake a week. He finally snapped out of it after about 3 weeks! I still have a loyal following for it at the market after many years. I hope you enjoy it.
It starts off with a nice old-timey cast iron skillet, some butter and brown sugar. Scatter your rhubarb all over that. Then mix up your cake batter and pour it all over the rhubarb mixture. Pop it in the oven for 40-50 minutes, and you won’t believe how good your kitchen will smell!
I am sure my local growers will be ringing me up soon to say their rhubarb is ready to pick, how much do I want? I’ll take it all!
- Rhubarb Upsidedown Cake
- Makes a 10" round or 9" square cake
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 cups rhubarb sliced in 1/2 inch slices
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/3 cup butter, room temperature, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp orange extract
- 1 egg
- zest of one orange
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter over medium heat in heavy 10 inch skillet (with oven proof handle) or 9x9 pan over low heat.
- Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter. Spread rhubarb over sugar mixture. Set aside while mixing cake.
- To mix the cake, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt the large bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Drop in butter, a few pieces at a time and mix on lowest speed to blend butter into dry ingredients, about 2 minutes. Add milk, extracts, orange zest and egg to mixer and beat on medium speed about 2 minutes, scraping bowl once or twice. Pour batter evenly over fruit. Bake 40 to 50 minutes until cake is golden brown and pulls from sides of pan. Cool upright in pan on wire rack 3-4 minutes, loosen edges of cake, invert on heatproof serving plate, and leave pan over cake 1 - 2 minutes. Remove pan and serve warm or cold with sweetened whipped cream.
- Alternatively, place the cake back in the cooled cast iron pan by slicing it into quarters and using spatulas to return it piece by piece. Slice the quarters in half to make 8 pieces. This makes for a great presentation at the table.
Photos in this post created by Darlene of Pickle Jar Studios.