23 May 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake

Tis the season of rhubarb and strawberries and I must say, it does my heart good. I love the luscious red aroma of strawberries just waiting to be gobbled up and enjoyed with wild abandon and the contrast of tart rhubarb. I like to add rhubarb for contrast and balance when you find you have started to have eaten your fill of strawberries as themselves and have moved on to the next stage of strawberry enjoyment. I have three rhubarb plants that give my stalks through out the whole summer and are yet seldom ready when the strawberries are. Fortunately for me, there is an abundance of berries in the market to indulge the perfect marriage of these two fruits, in this simple and yet extravagantly flavorful cake. 
Rhubarb is not found in much of anything here, except in the use of its roots for the famous digestive bitter elixirs Italians are so crazy about. My in laws are always mildy puzzled with my love of this lowly stalk and even more suspicious when I remind them every year that yes, the leaf is poisonous and yes the stalk is quite edible. Perhaps they are uncertain of my intent. They have politely tasted everything say that it is tasty, and yet, they are not completely convinced. I maintain my love of rhubarb and am convinced that you will find this combination a winner. The addition of the rhubarb to the batter adds moisture and cuts through the sweetness to make for a delicious combination. The cake is great with only the addition of strawberries on top, but I think you'll find the rhubarb will elevate the cake with that little something extra and well worth adding. Let me know what you think.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

(86g) 6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
(190g) 1 c granulated sugar (I use raw cane sugar like turbinado/demerara but fine grain )

1 large egg
1/2 c yogurt, ( or buttermilk)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

(140g)1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c farro/spelt or all white
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
(100g) 1 c rhubarb, cut into small slices or cubes if stalks are large

(450g) 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced in half if not too large or smaller
(24g) 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top of cake

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F degrees. 
Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan or other type removable bottom pan or line a pan with baking paper.  I like to make small individual cakes sometimes.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Set aside.
Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  I mixed this by hand with a flat wire whisk with good results.
Add in egg, yogurt, and vanilla extract. 
Mix until combined.
Gradually mix in flour mixture.
I begin to mix and then add the rhubarb and continue mixing, being careful not to over handle but thoroughly combining.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. 
Arrange strawberry slices on top of batter. 
Sprinkle turbinado sugar over berries.
Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 170C/ 325 degrees. 
Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 50-55 minutes. I have a convection oven and it took a lot less time. 
Let cool in pan. 
To serve, cut into wedges. 
Store cake at room temperature, for up to two days.
Serves 10


Rowena... said...

My oh my, does this ever look good! I have yet to see rhubarb in the local supermarkets or at the weekend open market, so I'll have to wait until our newly planted rhubarb takes off. I bought a young plant on a whim...so it is interesting to watch how the stalks begin to form one after another. Right now the stalks are only 4 inches in length and not anything like I know them to be. I bet if I checked out a farmer's market in Piemonte, I'd be leaving with a trunk full of produce!

Bella Baita View said...

You'd be wrong Rowena. I have never seen rhubarb in the market here. In fact I was shocked and happy, happy, when I first found the plants offered to me from my mil. I have taken extra care to make sure they come back every year, by covering them with some bark chips before they get covered in snow for the winter. I have had them for about 8 years now. They never get as big as what I am use to but they give me stalks all summer long and that is great. Be patient, they will be worth the wait.

Anonymous said...

I'm green with envy... a friend gave us four rhubarb plants last year and not a one survived the winter - which is nuts because rhubarb thrived (throve?) in nw Conn. with its -20 F temps. Maybe a different variety? It never occurred to me to cover our fledgling crop. Rowena, I'll be interested to hear how yours does - I should think it would like Piemonte. A German friend here (Liguria) made a sauce with some rhubarb she's been nursing along for a couple of years (grown from seed - imagine) but it tasted musty, and it didn't have the red color I associate with rhubarb. We had a 'rule' in New England that rhubarb was never to be eaten after the 4th of July. I'd be happy to eat it any old time. Your pie looks scrumptuous!

Bella Baita View said...

I just don;t think there is a tradition of eating rhubarb here. My in laws are indifferent and suspicious of any plant that the leaf is poisonous and you eat the stem. Mine grows well here in the mountains and survives some very cold winter weather. It never gets huge like it did where I grew up and it doesn't go to seed or bolt. That would be why you wouldn't eat it after 4th of July. You generally never want to eat it ater it goes to seed. It never does here, so I just keep making all things rhubarb.

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