Tuesday, May 29, 2012

see note (and a giveaway!)

Up there you see the finale to BDN 2012, in the form of my husband's birthday pies. Festive, right? For once, pie was my ally. I'll tell you how I made them later on in the week. For the moment, they are just helping me out by setting the party mood.

It's cake week.  Cake and presents.  Does that sound like a party?  I hope so.  The R&P is 100 posts old today, and even though I know a blog giveaway can end shamefully, with only four entries and a serious re-examination of one's direction in life, I am willing to take the risk.  I know who they are, and I like those four people very much.

I will come right out and tell you myself (so no one has to point it out) that today's post is re-hashing a recipe from two months ago, but I do have good reasons for this shameless re-broadcast: one, I told you then it was supposed to be made with rhubarb, which at that time was just a glimmer in springtime's eye, and now I have rhubarb galore to make it with; and two, it is one of those CHECK. ME. OUT. recipes that are simple to whip up and yet make you feel like a million dollars.  Or a hundred, anyways.

When you tip this bad boy out of its pan, odds are you will be greeted with a beautiful sight, and you'll feel pretty pleased with yourself.  Even if part of it sticks to the pan, it's easy to patch it together to make it presentable, and it will still taste just as good, especially with a masking glob of vanilla ice cream.  I once agreed to make 8 of these for a bake-sale at our kindergarten, and it's a testament both to my undiagnosed ADD and the merits of the recipe that each time I made it (occasions separated in time by mere hours), I forgot to add something (something different each time), and every time I got cake.

What more can a recipe offer, other than an auto-pilot setting?

If you'd like to open your mailbox next week and find a care package of treats and gizmos, leave a comment here, describing something you've made that makes you feel swift and jiggy. Something that gives you that little butt-waggly "HA!  Guess who made that: ME!" feeling.  Maybe you made it up and maybe you got the recipe somewhere; maybe you've made it once and maybe you make it every week--I am not fussy.  U.N.-designated observers will ensure the selection process is totally random from all (four) entries received by Friday, June 1 at midnight, and the Big News will be posted Monday.  Suspense!  Intrigue!  Cake!  What a week.

rhubarb upside-down cake

4 T butter
scant 2 cups 1/4" slices rhubarb (from about 4 stalks)
4-5 T brown sugar

1 ½  c all-purpose flour (a GF substitute works fine)
¼  c golden flax meal
1 ½  t baking powder
½ t baking soda
pinch salt
½ c buttermilk
¼ c milk
1 egg
2t vanilla
1 stick butter, very soft
¾ c sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a cast iron skillet, melt the 4T butter until foamy.  Sprinkle the brown sugar as evenly as possible over the butter and continue to heat until it is mostly melted (not all of it will be).  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle the rhubarb slices evenly over this mixture--you should have one flat layer covering all of the sugar.  Don't stir.

It is ideal if all the dairy and eggs are at room temperature here, though as long as the butter is soft, it will all work out fine. Put all the remaining ingredients in a bowl (a kitchen aid/stand mixer is ideal).  Mix on low speed until everything is combined, then mix at medium high speed until the batter is uniformly fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Glop the batter over the rhubarb mixture and gently even out, trying not to disturb the rhubarb layer.  Bake until cake tests done in center (30 min or so).  Cool in pan, then loosen sides with a butter knife and invert onto a serving plate. Re-affix anything that came loose/stayed behind in the pan.


  1. I do like a recipe where I can leave things out by accident. And cakes that I can bake in my cast-iron skillet. So I was certainly meant to see this recipe!

    My proudest recent recipe is also a cake, also with rhubarb, also made most recently for my husband's birthday this past weekend. It's from the book Rustic Fruit Desserts and it makes my butt wiggle with pride because it has crystallized ginger in the crumb topping, which drives people wild. :)


  2. I made two cakes this weekend. In neither case was I in possession of the one page in my Silver Palate cookbook that I needed. On one side of that page lay the recipe for banana layer cake with cream cheese frosting that I wanted to make for my friend Lisa's birthday; on the other, the peach cake I wanted to make for the First Day of Summer Memorial Day barbecue. This seemed unfair, really. I had managed to remember the over-ripe bananas and the slightly under-ripe bananas, butter, cream cheese, eggs, walnuts and powdered sugar, and I had found--oh, how rare this is--perfectly ripe peaches. I had the correct pans. I had time and I had occasions. But no page 300. Fortunately or unfortunately, a recipe is like a poem you used to know by heart. Even if you can't find it in your house, someone will have typed it out and posted it live on the Internet. Type "Silver Palate Bana . . . " and Google will fill in the rest. Ditto with "Silver Palate Pe . . ." So I baked banana cake and frosted it and sprinkled it with walnuts and poked a wide-open L.D. Braithwaite rose into the top and Lisa said it looked like Thumbelina was going to pop out of the petals. The next day I caramelized peach cake in a skillet and every trace was consumed in the amount of time it takes to burn a sparkler. We were all very happy, and summer had begun. The End.

  3. Oh, me! me! I have a rhubarb cake too- some something or other out of moosewood desserts that I love, and it's named in honor of Irma, or Erma, or some fabulous name like that. But it's simple and buttery and best of all makes this sweet creme brulee-ish crust on top, sealing in all the rhubarb goodness. Yes, sir.

  4. Happy blog/birthdays! My rhubarb chutney trumps cake any day. It's all things: sweet, spicy, gooey, savory and tart. Eat it with cake (ha!), yogurt, grilled steak, sharp cheese or even ice cream and go to heaven.

  5. I made rhubarb cake this weekend! It was a bit more complicated to make than yours looks like, but it was one of the first times that I thought about how I would tweak the recipe. I love making things that turn out well, but I'd love to be more intuitive with my baking. A little less orange zest, more cinnamon, a bit more flour for the topping. It's encouraging!
    My go-to success is a cheesecake, there are never left overs!

  6. I made toaster pastries from Alana Chernila's book The Homemade Pantry for the first time a couple weeks ago and they were scrumptious. I used two different fillings - mixed berry jam and Biscoff cookie spread. They were easier than I thought they would be and I keep dreaming up endless amounts of fillings.

  7. I have always enjoyed cooking, but recently have stepped it up a notch and have really gotten into making most everything I used to buy (yogurt, ricotta, pasta, crackers, etc). So this morning there i am, eating a piece of toast (homemade bread) with a schmear of yogurt cheese (homemade yogurt, strained & salted) and fresh sliced strawberries from my farm share. I just ate and closed my eyes and mentally gave myself a little pat on the back for such a simple, delish breakfast. :)

  8. Let's see...I am kinda proud that I figured out how to make bread without a recipe(!) and like to make cheese and have been pickling everything I can get my hands on (radishes, garlic scapes, cabbage ribs, is that weird?) And thank you for the lovely giveaway :)

  9. Congrats on 100 posts - I've recently discovered your blog and really enjoy both your writing and your cooking inspiration! Keep on writing!

    I'm the kind of cook that looks at lots of recipes for inspiration, then never follows any of them at the opportune moment...often with less than ideal results. But when it turns out well, there's nothing like that feeling! most recently I wiggled with pride when I made some terrific strawberry-rhubarb jam, that actually set up sans pectin.

  10. Coming late to this party, but coming all the same because the promise of a prize always sends me in to high cheering mode. (Please check out my sack race photo taken by the BDN guy)Congratulations on your 100th post! Quite a bloggess you are!
    What makes me jiggy and all sassy, besides your rhubarb cake recipe or that apple cake recipe that is attributed by some to me, but is really yours... or Laurie Colwin's plum jam or my own jam recipe that involves black currants and blackberries and blues...those make me swagger...turkey sloppy joes. There you have it. My own version of the New Basics Sloppy Joe that is so easy and smells great simmering and makes my family think I have been slaving when in fact I have shaken a can of tomato sauce and a shake of Worchestershire sauce...saute'd onion and red pepper and if I am feeling generous, I serve on soft buns. When I get really groovy, I will serve them on Alana's dinner rolls. Til then, I will go shake down my rhubarb plants. xo S

  11. I am proud of a pizza birthday cake for my really wonderful friend Geoff! Made several small ones to stack and put a candle in the last one! He deserves them all!

  12. I make pumpkin muffins. I eyeball the measurements, I used fresh cooked pumpkin so the ratio of pumpkin puree and water varies every time. I have baked it as a cake and I never make it the same. But I love it, and I am "famous" for them! It is so easy to mix up that I don't even use a mixer I just use a whisk and it doesn't even take a lot of muscle. I love to cook pumpkins each fall so I have enough puree to make muffins all year long, but nothing is better than the batch that I make when the puree is still warm from the oven.

  13. Baking is not my forte; it's easier for me to cook for 100 people than it is for me to make a pie. I wish that weren't so, but it is. However, I just happen to have four stalks of rhubarb that I cut and was wondering what I could do with them. I will make your cake!


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