Saturday, June 16, 2012

Rhubarb, oh Rhubarb

 I'm obsessed with rhubarb. Utterly obsessed. I think it's because I discovered the tangy, fruity goodness of rhubarb only recently. I was never exposed to it as a child -- only in those horrible commercial strawberry rhubarb pies that had a goopy thick filling that was pretty much all sugar and very little fruit. When I first picked up the beautiful green and red stalks at the market, I baked them up into this crumble with raspberries. Ever since then, I was hooked. Last year, I made orange rhubarb madeleines that were fragrant and spongey. I even sneaked a little into last year's strawberry preserves. So this year, when I saw them for $1.99/pound at the market, I indulged .. several times. The most recent, being this roasted strawberry rhubarb upside down cake. It's a combination of two different recipes, and the secret is a big splash of balsamic vinegar mixed in with the fruit as it's roasted.

This cake is awesome. It's simple to make and beautifully moist and lemony. It's the kind of cake that you can whip up for unexpected company, or to cheer you up if you're having a rough weekend. It's probably also perfect for Dad tomorrow and brought over the top with a little dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I enjoyed mine plain, usually as an after school treat, and when I brought a slice to my stressed-out colleague, she said it made her day a little bit brighter.

There's still rhubarb out there and the local berries are just starting to get beautiful, ripe, juicy and cheap.  Roast your fruit, beat your eggs, pick out some interesting whole wheat flours and find a beautiful organic yogurt to put into this cake. Make someone's day a little bit brighter.

Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
adapted from Joy the Baker and Everybody Likes Sandwiches

1 large, or 2 small stalks of rhubarb, washed and chopped
1 cup of strawberries, washed, hulled and halved
1.5 tablespoons of natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

2 eggs
1/2 cup of brown sugar
zest and juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of canola oil
1/4 cup of plain yogurt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of spelt flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour

1. Combine the fruit, cane sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a 9 inch baking pan. Toss well. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the fruit gets soft and the juices start to bubble and thicken ever so slightly.

2. While you're waiting for the fruit to roast, make the cake. Mix the eggs, brown sugar, lemon juice and zest, vanilla, oil and yogurt in a large bowl. Mix until everything is well-combined. Sift in the flours and baking soda. Mix until just combined.

3. Pour the cake batter over the roasted fruit and pop it back in the oven. Bake for 30ish minutes or until the cake gets a beautiful golden brown and a cake tester inserted comes out clean.

4. Let the cake cool completely. Run a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Invert a plate on top of the cake. Now flip!  Carefully lift off the baking pan and admire your work. Enjoy in the sunshine.

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