Monday, 28 March 2011

Rhubarb upside-down cake

Sometimes when I have to use up something to free space in the fridge – say a bunch of rhubarb – in searching for a suitable end I stumble over many enticing options, then am compelled to go and get more of the same. It seems I need about five bunches of said rhubarb now, what with the newly found tarts and meringues and orange syrup partnerings clamouring to be made, but this time I made Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down Babycakes from Cooking with Julia (Julia Child, Dorie Greenspan 1996), adapted a bit. 

I happened not to want babycakes, so turned to the magnificent Konstantin Slawinski silicon cake pan kindly given to me by the Saucemaker.

I’ve made a rich flourless chocolate cake in this cake pan, and very dramatic and architectural it looks, but I felt the pan would really come into its own in showcasing an upside-down-cake application such as this. It didn't keep its shape quite as beautifully as I'd hoped – I should have foreseen that the caramel would abandon its pecans and run off when inverted. I couldn't have gone past the caramel-enrobed pecans, but without it the peaks of the cake would have been unadulterated rhubarb pink and more fabulous to look at.

It’s a big pan, and needs a double quantity of most cake recipes, but I thought it’d be a good fit for this one – this recipe recommended a 12" cake tin if making a whole cake, which is one big cake tin. As it turned out, though, twice the batter could have been used, which would have allowed higher slices. Not sure I agree with the recipe's recommendation there.

1 2/3 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
300mL carton sour cream
180g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
bunch fresh rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths, roasted with a cup of sugar and some lemon zest under foil for 20 minutes or until soggy and syrupy
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180 C. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside. Stir vanilla into sour cream and set aside.

Melt 60g butter, add brown sugar and bourbon and cook over medium heat until the sugar melts. Stir in pecans and turn off the heat. Pour into silicon cake pan or into a greased 24cm tin. Arrange rhubarb over caramel as desired; set aside.

Beat sugar and remaining 120g butter in mixer on medium-high until light, fluffy, and pale. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately fold in dry ingredients and sour cream. Spoon batter over the rhubarb.

Bake for about an hour or until a skewer comes out clean.

I’d do this one again, especially as quite a few variations are offered, one in particular involving sage leaves. The cake part was great –very dense and a good foil for the syrupy rhubarb atop it. The Labyris Bearer was trying to work out what the tart custardy element was, which we decided must be the carton of sour cream.  


  1. YUM! The word for this one was - nourishing! xe

  2. No creaming of butter and sugar? And a use for my much-scorned rhubarb? Sounds like it's worth a try...

  3. Thanks, miss elise! I aim to nourish, among other things.

    Alida - mmmwell, maybe you're zoning in on the absence of the verb 'cream'! Butter and sugar just need to be beaten until light, fluffy and pale ... maybe contract that bit out to whoever's been scorning your rhubarb?

  4. Damn. Fie. Egad. Maybe I just need to plan to remove the butter from the refrigerator like a sentient human being...