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A Springtime Cake Recipe

May 13, 2010

The surge of Minnesota produce available in the farmer’s market is a sure sign that spring is here. Variety is still limited, however, and there aren’t any traditional fruits to be had. A leafy plant that is used as a fruit, locally grown rhubarb is ready to be picked now, and has a tart flavor that is a hallmark of the season for many. Although it is most commonly used in conjunction with strawberries, they are still out of season in our state. Not to worry, however, as rhubarb has a distinctive flavor that is worth highlighting in its own right.

Photo by Ellen Peterson

If you’re looking to try something new, try this rhubarb upside down cake. It pairs the early season fruit with a hint of orange but otherwise lets the stalks’ flavor shine through. The rich citrusy cake has a great jam-like top and a surprising crunchy bottom. You might just wish rhubarb season lasted longer!

Photo by Ellen Peterson

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Adapted from Martha Stewart

For the topping:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

For the cake:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for buttering pan

1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut on a very sharp diagonal about 1/2 inch thick

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

2 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make the topping: Combine melted butter, flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and stir until moist and crumbly.
  3. Make the cake: Grease a 2-inch deep, 9-inch round cake pan. Dot the pan with 4 tablespoons of butter, cut into small chunks. Coat rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar. Let stand for 2 minutes, toss again, and spread in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Beat remaining stick butter and cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add in orange zest and juice. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, until smooth. Spread evenly over rhubarb. Crumble topping evenly over batter.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
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