Of course we love Rhubarb from its amazing pink-green coloring to the unusual stalks, and we are never sure if it is a vegetable or a fruit? Or how to spell it correctly? It technically is a vegetable but has been categorized as a fruit because of its many uses in desserts. And the crimson red and pale green stalks that resemble celery, can be cooked and eaten. Although the large green leaves cannot and are said to be poisonous. If you are a research buff and want to dive into the history of the rhubarb plant, the rhubarb compendium offers a wide range of information from the history to growing and harvesting it.
Like any other Spring crop, rhubarb makes for terrific jams, compotes, pies and can be used as a fruit substitute for many dessert recipes or added as a syrup to drinks. Think creatively with your flavors because Rhubarb is tart and has the same tang as citrus. You could consider using less or no sweetener to your savory recipes. Roasted and tossed with various Greens and Goat Cheese in a Salad, offered as a sauce for Fish or Chicken, Roasted together with Root Vegetables, as a side dish or diced and sautéed with Shallots, chopped Mint, Chives and Balsamic Vinegar for a dipping Sauce or Chutney. Think simplistically and try using it in many new and different ways.
When cooking it will soften quickly so keep track of your heat. To make a puree, sauté 6 stalks chopped to about 1 inch in 2 Tablespoons of Butter until soft. If you want more of an Apple Sauce consistency add a ¼ cup of Water and cover to simmer until fully cooked down to a puree. Roast long stalks of Rhubarb in a 375° oven with Salt and Pepper for 15-20 min until the color warms and the stalks are tender. For this Rhubarb Upside-down Cake, the stalks are cut long, sautéed in Butter and Sugar until just tender, the Cake Batter is spread on top and then baked until the cake tester comes out clean. It is a perfect breakfast treat of afternoon tea cake.
1- 10 inch cake
6-8 Stalks Rhubarb
2 Tablespoons Butter
½ cup Sugar
½ Vanilla Bean cut in half lengthwise
¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
¼ teaspoon Salt
8 Tablespoons Butter
½ cup White Sugar
¼ cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1½ cups All Purpose Flour
1½ teaspoon Baking Powder
¼ teaspoon Salt
½ cup Milk
For the Rhubarb:
In a cast iron or heavy bottom pan, melt the Butter and Sugar together.
Cut the Vanilla Bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add to the Butter and Sugar.
Cut and trim the Rhubarb into long 2-3 inch pieces and add them to the pan neatly.
Sauté them until just tender then add the Vanilla Extract. Simmer for another two minutes then remove from the heat. Set aside.
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°
Cream in an electric mixer the Butter, both Sugars and Vanilla Extract until very light and creamy. Approximately 10 minutes.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn on mixer again beating in the Eggs in one at a time until fully incorporated.
Place the Flour, Baking Soda and Salt in a separate bowl.
Measure out the Milk and add the Flour mixture and the Milk alternating until all ingredients are blended.
Scrape from the bottom of the bowl to make sure the batter is fully mixed.
Carefully pour and spread the batter over the cooked Rhubarb making sure it is evenly distributed.
Bake for 30-40 minutes be sure to test with a toothpick or small knife that the cake is fully cooked.
Cool for 15 minutes then place a sheet pan or cake plate over the pan and quickly invert the cake upside down.
Let sit for 20 minutes then lift the pan being careful to gently allow the Rhubarb to release from the bottom of the pan.
A twist on the classic upside down cake is both innovative, tasty and zesty in flavor without too much sweetness. By all means add a dollop of fresh whipped Cream and for even more decadence, a candied Violet.
Candied Violets are made by picking wild Violets from your garden, they are everywhere in the Springtime. Boil ½ cup Water and ½ cup Sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Using a pastry brush, brush the petals with the simple syrup. Dredge in Sugar and set aside on a rack to dry.
Created for the young chef or new baker who wants to learn a few new tricks, with a little help, the youngest of chef’s can make Mom feel special on Mother’s Day!