Inverted Rhubarb Confection

(Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake)

20160618_085617 (2)

I rarely copy and paste newspaper recipes in this blog. However, a number of  events this week conspired to lead me to this wonderful recipe.  First, my mother was overcome with rhubarb envy/appetite upon seeing my enormous dinosaur rhubarb plant.

20160417_164620 (2)
Happy birthday!

Second, our poodle Peeves was having a birthday (11 years young!) and we were in need of some excuse to celebrate.  And, third, Mr. Artifact just happened upon this  article in the Spokesman Review newspaper that featured  this herbaceous perennial.  Luck was with us: we had the ingredients on hand to make this treat.  As noted in the Spokesman article and the primary source from the NY Times, there are improvements that are suggested.  I have noted my improvements within the text of the recipe.

20160618_090606 (2)

This is a seemingly complex recipe, but it is worth the effort.  I will note that my mother suggested  buying a yellow cake mix instead of the batter to simplify it further.  Hmm. . maybe next time!

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

From Melissa Clark of the New York Times

The original recipe can be found at:

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, more to grease pans (I used 2 sticks plus 2 T.  Aside from buttering the pan bottom, I used spray coconut oil.)

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, rinsed and sliced into 1/2-inch cubes, about 4 cups (If you rough chop these into 2 inch pieces, you may not need as much.)

2 teaspoons  tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 cups cake flour  (if you have it, great.  But regular flour worked just fine.)

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Zest of 1 lemon, grated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1/3 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper and sides of the pan. Wrap two layers of foil under the pan, and place it on a buttered baking sheet.  OMG, this was a pain.  It did turn out fine.  I think if I were to do this next time I would simply slather up my good old cast iron pan.  Might add the circle of parchment, though.

In a medium bowl, mix rhubarb, cornstarch and 1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

Mix 1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 to 1/2 stick  2 tablespoons butter in a pan over medium heat. Whisk until smooth and bubbling, about 2 minutes  melted.  (You can do this right before assembling.  No need to do it at the beginning of the process.You risk it caramelizing and becoming too hard if you let it set.)

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.

Whip 2 sticks butter in a mixer with a paddle attachment for 2 minutes.

With your fingers, blend the remaining 1 cup sugar with lemon zest until the mixture is uniform in color. (I thought this was dumb, but you need to do this, as the lemon zest has a tendency to clump together.)

Add the sugar/lemon zest mixture to the creamed butter (added sentence for clarity).  Cream together with the butter at medium-high speed until it is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl halfway through. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the sour cream, then the lemon juice. (It’s OK if the mixture looks curdled.)

With the mixer set to low speed, add the flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, until well combined. Scrape down the mixer bowl in between the additions.

Pour the brown-sugar mixture into the cake pan, then spoon in the rhubarb,using a slotted spoon and its juices  .(Drizzle with more juice if you think it needs it–I did not.) Spoon in the batter so it covers all of the rhubarb. Smooth out the top.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top of the cake is firm to touch and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out without any large, moist crumbs.  (OK, here is the problem:  the batter bakes up nicely and creates a little volcanic center that much of the batter domes over.  It is too low in the pan for a regular toothpick to reach, leaving you to believe it is really done.  Be aware of this and use a longer probe, such as a bamboo skewer.)

Place the pan on a wire rack, and cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the cake, place a plate on top of the pan and turn it upside-down. Release the cake from the pan while still warm or else it will stick  (emphasis added).

This was great with some lightly sweetened whipped cream!

Yield: 8 servings


One Comment Add yours

  1. Carole Morgan says:

    This was wonderful – melts in your mouth – However, I will try making it with a cake mix and add more eggs to the mix, also add the lemon zest and lemon juice – make it in my cast iron skillet – and melt the butter and then add the sugar, add the rhubarb that has been coated with the the cast iron skillet and pour the cake mix over top. Stacey’s mom


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.