Thursday, May 10, 2012
rhubarb upside-down cake
I was expecting the traditional upside-down cake, which usually tastes like a basic yellow (or vanilla) cake with caramelized fruit. Somehow, probably because of some ingredient tinkering on my part, it was dense and moist, like a rhubarb upside-down cheesecake. Which is nothing to complain about!
The rhubarb, which had turned caramel sweet from a mix of brown sugar and butter, was tender but still held its shape. After our spring feast, we ate the cake with plain whipped cream and everyone sang the praises of its weird deliciousness.
The next day, it changed again.
I pulled the leftover cake out of the fridge and Dan and I ate two slices. Overnight, it had become more firm and dense, and was now a rhubarb upside-down pound cake.
The day after that, Dan reached in for the last slice of cake, which I had wrapped in foil, and it weighed down his hand like a rock. "Maybe you shouldn't eat that," I said. He agreed, and that was the end of the cake.
If I had made the recipe as it was originally designed (by Melissa Clark for The New York Times) with two and a half sticks of butter, the cake would have tasted more traditional and we probably would have been eating it on day three. But my version had a more surprising texture because I cut the butter down by a stick and used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
I have no regrets and would make the cake the same way again. But I'd also make sure to eat it all on day one. Which negates reducing the fat...but whatever. It was delicious.
Adapted from Melissa Clark
(Serves 6 to 8 people)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, more to grease pans
1 1/2 lbs. rhubarb, rinsed and sliced into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 cups cake flour (3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp. cornstarch makes 1 cup of cake flour)
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper and sides of the pan. Wrap two layers of foil under the pan, and place it on a baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, mix the rhubarb, cornstarch and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.
Mix the brown sugar and 1/2 stick butter in a pan over medium heat. Whisk until smooth and bubbling, about 2 minutes.
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.
Whip 1 stick butter in a mixer with a paddle attachment for 2 minutes. With your fingers, blend the remaining 1 cup sugar with lemon zest until the mixture is uniform in color. Cream together with the butter at medium-high speed until it is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl halfway through.
Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the yogurt. With the mixer set to low speed, add the flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, until well combined. Scrape down the mixer bowl in between the additions.
Pour the brown-sugar mixture into the cake pan, then spoon in the rhubarb and its juices. Spoon in the batter so it covers all of the rhubarb. Smooth out the top.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top of the cake is firm to touch and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out without any large, moist crumbs.
Place the pan on a wire rack, and cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the cake, place a plate on top of the pan and turn it upside-down. (Do this over the sink, if possible, because some liquid from the rhubarb will run out.) Release the cake from the pan while still warm or else it will stick. Serve with whipped cream.