Sure I was sick of lugging my umbrella everywhere, but I love the coziness that comes with gray skies and rain. After a winter that wasn't really a winter, I'm relishing in having a few extra weeks that allow me to nestle under blankets, wear cozy socks, and turn on my oven without sweating to death. By this time next month it will probably be all sunny skies and humidity.
This isn't to say I'm not happy about spring produce slowly creeping in. Tyler and I have eaten several pounds of asparagus over the last couple of weeks and rhubarb, probably one of my most favorite vegetables has finally made an appearance at our farmer's market.
This cake is the perfect way to welcome rhubarb back into your life. Caramelized, impossibly tender rhubarb sits a top an incredibly moist flavorful cake. I'm a sucker for using different types of grains in my cakes and the rye flour adds an incredible amount of nuttiness that pairs well with the tart rhubarb. Served with a dollop of whipped cream, it makes for a delightful dessert but I also like having a piece as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea on a dreary May afternoon.
Rhubarb and Rye Upside-Down Cake
Recipe from Sweeter off the Vine
Makes one 9-inch cake
1 pound (450g) rhubarb, leaves removed, cut into 2-inch (5cm) lengths
1 vanilla bean (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
3⁄4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup (55g) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup (125g) all purpose flour
1 cup (130g) rye flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
1⁄2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (page 235)
1 1⁄2 cups (355ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375F . Butter a 9-inch cake pan or springform pan, 3 inches tall, line it with parchment paper, and butter that too. Dust the pan and paper with flour.
To make the rhubarb topping: Use the tip of a knife to split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds; reserve the pod for another use. Combine the sugar, butter, vanilla seeds, lemon zest, and salt in a skillet and set over medium low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and butter begin to melt together, then add the rhubarb. Cook the rhubarb, turning it occasionally in the pan, until it is juicy, tender, and slightly caramelized but not falling apart, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour the rhubarb and its juices into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Set aside while you prepare the cake batter.
To make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk the all purpose and rye flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together at medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk in three additions and mix until just combined. Carefully pour the batter over the rhubarb in the pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan gently on the counter to remove any air bubbles. If using a springform pan, set it on a baking sheet to catch any potential leakage.
Bake the cake until the top is golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then carefully invert onto a serving platter. Remove the parchment paper and re-position any rhubarb that has stuck to the paper. Cut into wedges and serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, if you like. This cake is best served the day that it’s made.