Friday, June 27, 2014

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Is rhubarb a fruit or vegetable? Apparently, in the US it's considered a vegetable.  The only way I've eaten is is in desserts. So, I say it's a fruit. Yes?
Spring is when rhubarb makes it's appearance in the produce section.  Where we live, we can buy it until late fall. They resemble celery stalks with vibrant colors of red and green.  The only recipes I've used rhubarb is in Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie or Fruit Crisps.  The strawberries give a sweet contrast to the tartness of the rhubarb, in a good way.  It's even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

One of the reasons I was anxious to make this coffee cake is that rhubarb is the star of the show-- and I thought that the caramelized rhubarb looks really pretty, once the cake is inverted on a platter.

The cake has sour cream added, which pretty much guarantees plenty of moisture.  The third element is a layer of crumb topping, which becomes the bottom once the cake is inverted!

To begin with, the rhubarb is sliced at a very sharp diagonal, about 1/2" thick.  Sugar is added and then set aside.

The ideal pan for baking this cake is this 9x3 inch cake pan.  Butter it generously.  To make the topping, the ingredients are flour, sugar, a little salt and melted butter. (A printable recipe is at the end of this post.)

The rhubarb has softened and has a pretty shiny appearance.  What you can't see is that I dotted the bottom of the pan with additional pieces of butter. This will help to caramelize the rhubarb. Layer the rhubarb along the bottom of the pan. Pretty!

The streusel topping is simply stirred until combined, and that is also set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F.
The cake is quite simple, actually. For the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour (I always used unbleached), baking powder and salt.  For the wet ingredients, one stick of room temperature unsalted butter is creamed with sugar.  I originally wanted to add orange zest and orange juice. Since the fruit bowl was absent of oranges I went with lemon zest and lemon juice...then two eggs.

Last, the dry ingredients are added -- alternately-- with once cup of sour cream. The batter is delicious!

Gently spoon the batter on top of the fruit, and even out the top (being carefully not to move the rhubarb around).

Evenly layer the crumb topping and bake for about an hour.

I tested the cake at 50 minutes, but it needed the extra ten minutes. At last, the toothpick came out clean and the streusel had a beautiful golden color.

Here's what's important-- allow the cake to cool for ten minutes, but no more than that! Run a knife around the edge of a pan.  I placed a wire rack on top of the pan, held my breath and flipped the cake over...

 ..the cake released!  

Cooked/Baked rhubarb loses the vibrant red color and becomes a softer pinkish hue.  I think it looks great!  SIDE NOTE: When I posted this picture on my Facebook Fan Page, someone said this didn't look appetizing (I have edited their remarks to be kinder. . . and I had to delete the comments, which were pretty mean-spirited.) I told my son what happened, and he said  that the rhubarb sort of resembles muscle tissue. Interesting... okay. I guess it could.  Not that I've seen it, first hand. But what really matters is if the cake is good, right?

The only way I'm going to find out is to dig in, and give my son a slice. He is one of my honest critics, and doesn't hold back on his opinions-- and I do appreciate his honesty.

TASTING NOTES:  There are three layers of flavor and textures to this coffee cake, so I'll break it down.  The rhubarb is tart, with a perfect balance of sweetness. The texture is soft, and not fibrous at all. The cake is really, really moist! Yay for sour cream!  The crumb is super tender, and the crunch of the buttery streusel adds another element of texture. Sweet, Tart, buttery, delicious!  My son, who says he didn't think he liked rhubarb loved this cake.  

I had a second piece, this morning, with coffee.  It's just as good the following day. I thought, to myself, that it's quite possible to skip the streusel layer-- not that it isn't good! But, for me,  it's very rich.  It's the cake that I loved best and would be very tempted to make this with fresh pineapple or possibly peaches.  

I'm still sticking with my visual opinion that this is a pretty cake.  Here's the  printable recipe:


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Susan Sevig said...

This looks wonderful to me. Trolls are not that intelligent as far as I am concerned. I will try it. I have always said a cake with either sour cream or cream cheese in the batter is just about as good as it gets.

Debby Foodiewife said...

Thanks, Susan. I'm with you on sour cream or cream cheese. They make the best coffee cakes, for sure!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

I'm a big rhubarb fan and I think your cake is beautiful, Debby. Why people make unkind remarks is beyond me. Thank heavens not many readers feel compelled to do it.

Anonymous said...

Well gosh. I think it looks wonderful! I too am a big fan of rhubarb. One of the nice things about a recipe like this is that can so easily be adapted to use other, colorful fruits. I make a nearly identical cake using small, 'black' (dark purple) Italian plums. Once can also combine fruits. Hmm. Thanks Deb.

Joanne said...

I think, scientifically speaking, that it's a veggie but whatever it is, I LOVE IT. This upside down cake is just stunning!

susan said...

What is not pretty about this cake ?? Throw a few mint leaves or a few strawberries on top with a swirl of whipped cream to garnish it if you want it over the top ! Some people just aren't familiar with rhubarb..... its great.