About two weeks ago, I arrived home to a large bunch of gorgeous, fuschia rhubarb delivered by a dear friend who knows of and shares in my love of rhubarb.
Three cheers for door to door rhubarb deliveries.
And as the cooking gods would have it, the lovely Alana over at Eating from the Ground Up had just baked this simple but excellent cake with rhubarb as the star ingredient. This is precisely the kind of rustic fruit cake that I adore. So Thank you Nigel Slater and Alana for this delightful, tender, sweet cake.
I was intrigued by the baking of the rhubarb before it became an ingredient in the cake. This step delivered attractive, tender, intact rhubarb pieces and bright pink cooking liquid that is spooned over the cake before eating – oh my. It is also delicious stirred into seltzer for a kid-friendly spring into summer spritzer.
With the use of a food processor, this cake came together quite easily. Do not let the polenta component confuse you, there is no polenta making involved, just coarse ground ground meal that adds a nice bite to the cake's texture.
My Mother's Day present to myself
Making the batter, I pulsed a few times too many but the recipe worked just fine.
Ready to bake!
Yum, yum, gimme some! Ready to eat.
1 pound rhubarb
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. orange zest
10 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large egg
2 to 4 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. turbinado or regular sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a baking sheet in the oven. Grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan or baking dish. Set aside.
2. Cut rhubarb into into 3-inch pieces. Put them into a baking dish, scatter them with the sugar and water, and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until soft. Drain rhubarb in a colander over a bowl to collect the cooking liquid. Set aside the rhubarb and the strained liquid.
3. While the rhubarb is cooking, Add cornmeal, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixed. Add the orange zest and butter. Pulse again until the mixture is uniform with the butter approximately the size of small peas.
4. Whisk the egg with 2 Tbsp. of milk and add it to the processor bowl. Pulse a few times until you have a batter that is crumbly but comes together when pressed between your fingers. Add additional milk, 1 Tbsp. at a time until the right consistency is acheived.
5. Press 2/3 of the batter into the cake pan in an even layer. Make a layer of cooked rhubarb pieces. For the top layer, add clumps and crumbs of the remaining dough, leaving some places where the fruit can be seen. Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the cake. Place cake onto the hot baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the top is slightly golden.
6. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan. I left mine right in the baking dish. Serve this cake with some of the reserved cooking liquid and something creamy like ice cream of yogurt.