Upside Down Rhubarb Cake with Rhubarb-Sugar Marinated Strawberries celebrates spring in color, aroma and, most important, taste! Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing.
Another seasonal dish I am getting to late. Ack! Sorry about that, but come on, if you were in Italy would you be posting about food or doing this:
In all seriousness, southern Italy has a lot of beaches. And you guys know how I feel about beaches (if not, check out my about page). I was determined to hit a few of them–we did not get to as many as hoped, just because of intermittent thunderstorms, but we did get to some. First up was Tropea…
Tropea was my favorite beach that we went to. The day we were there was an Italian holiday, so the beach was crowded. You can see the striking background in the bottom left picture; the beach, despite being all pebbles and rocks, was still a beautiful light, bleached color (unlike the grey of some other beaches). Because it was rocks and pebbles the water of the Tyrrhenian was astoundingly clear, the clearest we ever saw. It dropped quickly off into quite deep water, where I could not touch and never did figure out how deep it was, and yet I could see the bottom perfectly clearly. It was like snorkeling without goggles or putting your head under water at all.
It was paradise.
Stay tuned for more posts about various Italian beaches, but until then, if it is not too cheesy, I promise this cake is like paradise in your mouth!
I am rather mortified to admit I am still posting dishes from the meal I made for my family before coming to Italy. I don’t think I overestimated my time when planning to post all these dishes (there are still more), so much as I seriously underestimated how exhausting Italy would be. Most nights I comment on a few Facebook threads, pretend to open my book, and crash asleep. It is exhausting trying to cram in so much!
So I am sorry for sharing this Upside Down Rhubarb Cake recipe at the end of strawberry and rhubarb season. Because it is outstanding. It is a wonderful dessert to serve after a more organized dinner, because it really benefits from home-made whipped cream and the strawberries macerated in sugar (which you might not feel like bothering with on any old Tuesday). The entire cake was pretty much decimated when I served it–I think there was maybe one slice left! The recipe, with a few changes, is from Dorie Greenspan’s fabulous Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere. I am loving this book in particular of all of her books because the emphasis is so homey–totally my style of baking!
I did not include a recipe for the Rhubarb-Sugar Marinated Strawberries because the idea is simple. When you drain the rhubarb for the cake you will have a rhubarb “juice” reserved. Mix this juice into the strawberries and let them sit while you make the cake. Taste one after a while and if you want them sweeter, just add a sprinkle of sugar and toss and taste again.
Closely adapted from Dorie Greenspan. Prep time includes macerating the rhubarb in sugar, which is hands off, and making the glaze after the cake is baked.
- 1 1/4 lbs (567 g, 4-6 stalks) rhubarb, rinsed and ends trimmed
- 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
- 1 1/2 T unsalted butter
- 1 cup (136 g) AP flour
- 1 t baking powder
- 1/8 t fine sea salt
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup (150 g) packed light brown sugar
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 1/2 t vanilla
- 1/2 cup (8 T, 4 oz, 113 g, 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/3 cup strawberry rhubarb jam
- 1 t water
- small pinch fine sea salt
- Rhubarb-sugar marinated strawberries (see instructions below and notes above)
- lightly sweetened whipped cream
- Chop the rhubarb into 1-inch long chunks and place in a large bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup of the sugar and set aside for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. A syrup should form.
- Drain the rhubarb, being certain to reserve the syrup for the strawberries (see above) or other uses, like mixed drinks.
- While the rhubarb is macerating, butter a 9 inch round pan with at least 2 inch high sides. Place a round of parchment paper cut to fit the pan in the bottom and butter it.
- Heat the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. When it is melted, add the rhubarb and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Stir occasionally--you want the rhubarb to caramelize at the edges but not become mushy. Greenspan estimates about 3 minutes for the job, and that was enough for me.
- Scrape the rhubarb with all of its caramelizing juices into the prepared cake pan. Set aside to cool a bit while you prepare the cake.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until thick and smooth. Whisk in the orange zest and vanilla.
- Whisk the butter in in 3 additions, being sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl as you go. Then add the flour mixture in 3 additions--whisk for the first 2 additions, but switch to a silicone spatula and fold in the 3rd addition of flour. Be sure that no streaks of flour remain and that the sides and bottom of the bowl are scraped.
- Scrape the batter into the cake pan over the rhubarb; make sure the top is level. Place the cake pan onto the prepared baking sheet, and place in the oven.
- Bake the cake for 25 minutes, rotating after 12 minutes. When the cake is done, it should be golden brown, pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.
- Place a large, flat plate by your work area (I used a cake dish, it was definitely trickier but plausible).
- Transfer the cooked cake to a cooling rack for 2 minutes, then use a table knife to gently run around the sides of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place the plate over the cake pan and carefully and quickly flip it over. Now wait 1 minute--you want steam and gravity to help do some of the work. Then remove the cake pan and gently remove the parchment paper--if a few pieces of rhubarb stick (none of mine did), just grab them and place them back on top of the cake.
- For the glaze, bring the jam and the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat, and once the bubbling subsides, spoon small amounts of the glaze over the rhubarb topping.
- Set aside the cake to cool.
- Serve slices with Rhubarb-Sugar Marinated Strawberries and lightly sweetened whipped cream.