Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Norwegian Rhubarb Cake

Rhubarb juice soaks this cake so thoroughly that I was tempted to use a straw! Its attractively sodden state is similar to that of baba au rhum. Rhum is fine, but so is rhubarb with its fresh and vibrant flavour.

Rainbow colours! The flowers are lilacs and cranesbills from our garden

A baking pan is lined first with rhubarb that has been lightly braised in syrup and then the batter is added. In the oven, the juices bubble up the cake. Out of the oven, it is then flipped over and as it stands, gravity does the rest, fully saturating the cake. It boasts of a lovely texture and taste as the crème fraîche smooths out the tartness while the crust becomes superbly caramelised. Though it can be kept in the fridge for a few days, take it out an hour or so before serving because it is best at room temperature.

makes a 26 cm/10 inch long, 10 cm/4 inch wide, 5 cm/2 inch deep loaf and a smaller 15 cm/6 inch long, 9 cm/3.5 inch wide, 4 cm/1.5 inch deep loaf
adapted from The Missing Flavor
  • Rhubarb stalks, about 4 stalks
  • Sugar, white, 8 fluid oz/237 ml for the batter plus 5 T for simmering/macerating the rhubarb
  • Flour, all purpose, white, 8 fluid oz/237 ml
  • Butter, sweet, 200 gms/7 dry oz, extra for greasing the pans
  • Eggs, 3
  • Crème fraîche, 6 fluid oz/180 ml
  • Pure vanilla extract, 1 tsp
  • Baking powder, 1 tsp
  • Baking soda, 1/4 tsp
  • Salt, 1/4 tsp
  • Optional: Raspberry or strawberry syrup, 1 tsp, for a boost in colour

Bring eggs, crème fraîche, and butter to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees F. Before simmering the rhubarb, I cut them to fit snugly in the two pans. Remove the rhubarb and butter inside bottom of pans. Put pans over parchment paper and make tracings with a knife, then cut out. Line the pans and butter again, this time, include all the sides and corners. Reserve.

Rhubarb from our potager

If you prefer a fluffier cake, then macerate the raw rhubarb in the sugar for at least a few hours or overnight. If not, pour one oz/30 ml to two fluid oz/60 ml of water into a skillet and add five tablespoons of sugar. Over low heat stir until dissolved. Place the rhubarb in the pan and gently cook for several minutes. If using raspberry syrup, add now. The rhubarb needs to be mostly firm so be careful as not to overcook. Arrange either the braised or macerated rhubarb in the lined pans and pour syrup/juices over them. Set aside.

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium-sized bowl. In a large bowl, mash the butter with a fork. Gradually add the sugar in batches, mashing well after each addition. Then beat with a wooden spoon for several minutes. Crack eggs one by one, beating well after each one is added. The batter will look a bit curdled which is OK. Beat in one half of the flour and the crème fraîche. Repeat with the rest, adding the vanilla.

Fill up pan(s) no more than three-quarters way up and smooth/flatten out with the back of a wet metal spoon. Bake around forty minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Center should also spring back slightly and the edges will have slightly pulled back.

Let cool till it is no longer hot. It may deflate a bit as the juices settle down which is fine. Going around the edges first with a thin, straight spatula will ease the easing-out of the cake. Then turn the pan upside down over a serving plate. The parchment may adhere itself onto the cake. In that case, gently peel it off. A recalcitrant rhubarb strip may need to be coaxed to join the rest.

By the time The Calm One sauntered into the kitchen, the cake had become one with the rhubarb, and so heavy with juice that it was challenging to lift a slice onto his plate. But somehow he managed. Crème Chantilly was whipped and sliced strawberries were sugared. Voilà!

The asparagus picking is finished chez nous. The remaining spears now look like this!

Soon fern-like foliage will appear

Gardening activity continues at a nice clip. Onions, garlic, and peas are now in the ground. Early-season potatoes to follow. Then carrots and beets...

Two of our twelve 4' by 12' veggie beds

À la prochaine!


Wikipedia article on edible flowers

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