Those who can, run. Those who can’t, make cake. At least that’s what I did a few weeks ago when I was sidelined with a calf injury. If you have rhubarb growing in your yard, or are lucky enough to have a friend drop off eight pounds of stalks from their garden, make this cake. Right now. It is one of the best cakes you will have this year. This is a recipe by Melissa Clark from the New York Times and you can see the original here.
The main thing I have changed is that the original recipe calls for using a springform pan. In my time as a pastry chef, in the various kitchens in which I’ve worked, I have never seen a springform pan. Not once. Lining the bottom of any baking pan with parchment paper, and buttering or spraying the sides with a Pam-type of cooking spray works just as well. When you go to invert the finished product, place your serving platter over the top of the baking pan, run a knife around the edge to release the sides, then flip over and voila. I also substitute plain greek yogurt for sour cream, but only because I usually have yogurt stocked in my refrigerator. It seems to work just fine.
Here’s a trick to quickly cut a piece of parchment into the correct size of a round pan (mouse-over pictures for directions):
- 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, rinsed and sliced into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon, grated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round baking pan with parchment paper, and spray sides with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, mix together rhubarb, cornstarch, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Set aside.
- Soften 1 cup butter to room temperature, and whip in mixer with paddle attachment for 2 minutes.
- With your fingers, blend together 1 cup sugar with lemon zest until uniform in color. Add to the butter and cream together until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through.
- On low speed, add the vanilla and mix to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, also on low speed, mixing between each addition so that the mixture returns to the way it looked before the addition of the egg. By the fourth egg it may start to look curdled and this is okay.
- Mix in the yogurt (or sour cream), then the lemon juice. It will still look curdled and this is okay.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter in three additions (or 1/3 of the dry ingredients at a time), scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition, and mixing only until it is incorporated. You do not want to over-mix the flour unless you like tough cake.
- Mix together the brown sugar and 1/4 cup butter in a pan over medium heat. Whisk together until smooth and bubbling.
- Pour brown sugar mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Then spoon in the rhubarb and its juices. Spoon in the batter so that it covers the rhubarb. Smooth the top.
- Bake in preheated oven until the top of cake is firm to touch and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Check at around 45 minutes.
- Cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to release the sides, then place a plate upside-down over the top of the cake pan and invert cake onto plate. Do this while the cake is still warm so it doesn't stick.