It is with great pleasure that I announce that at long last the local rhubarb est arrivé! Or it did a week or so ago when I wasn't looking. In any case the 'Oregon' sign on the rhubarb basket has been replaced with a sign showing a map of Vermont and a little star indicating the approximate location of Dwight Miller Orchards, just a few miles from where I sit.
There are a thousand things you can do with this pink, tart stalk. You can make compote or cobbler, tarts or pies, a sauce for fish, a filling for danish, jellies or jams... or you could make a rhubarb cake.
I'll be honest: this is not my favorite rhubarb recipe. There's nothing wrong with it really, but I am not a fan of undercooked batter and the high moisture content of the rhubarb prevents the batter around it from cooking completely. Either that or I took the cake out of the oven ten minutes too early, which is entirely possible even though my toothpick came out clean. I do like the texture the cornmeal lends the cake--its slight crunch contrasts well with the softness of the rhubarb. And the flavor is good. The tartness of the rhubarb keeps the cake from being too sweet and there's just enough cinnamon to be noticed but not enough to be overpowering. So, who knows, maybe the problem is me and not the cake and I should try again before pronouncing my verdict.
adapted from Nigella Lawson
- 18 oz. rhubarb
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. fine cornmeal
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. yoghurt
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan and set aside.
- Clean and trim rhubarb if necessary, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the sugar over the rhubarb and set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, soda, salt, and cinnamon. Beat the eggs with the vanilla. In large bowl cream the butter and remaining 2/3 cup sugar. Gradually add the egg mixture to the creamed butter, beating well. Alternately add the flour mixture and yoghurt, mixing just to combine after each addition. Finally, fold in the rhubarb, sugar, and any juices that might be in the bowl.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake about one hour. Cover the top with foil if it starts to get too dark.
- Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes and then turn out onto wire racks.
Serve at room temperature or warmed, plain or with cream.
I think a better idea might be to make it a rhubarb upside down cake. I would caramelize the rhubarb somehow with sugar and a splash of Cointreau, boil off any extra water, then transfer it to the bottom of my cake pan, pour a batter over the top and bake it 'til done. That way you both minimize the risk of undercooked batter and show off the rhubarb to better effect. Just a thought.