Pop Quiz: Is Rhubarb a Fruit or Vegetable?
The winters are long here. Not as long as the midwest, where spring and summer seem to be a blip. Still, four months of darkness and mummifying ourselves with layers of clothing leaves everyone ready for a change of pace come May.
In usual fashion, spring is in the express lane, and now our temperatures are barreling towards summer. Before we get there, though, there’s rhubarb to consider.
The season for rhubarb always feels too short. While most people pair it with strawberries, our rhubarb season will be mostly done by time the first berries ripen. My feelings about rhubarb also revolve around pushing it front center, and while supporting cast members are fine (looking at you strawberries), it’s rare to see a sweet dish that appreciates all rhubarb has to offer on its own. So, it was a happy surprise to come across Luisa’s Simple Rhubarb Cake from Classic German Baking last week.
The cake comes together swiftly, and easily, with rhubarb taking front and center stage. Luisa notes that it’ll look like too much rhubarb, and it does. Once it bakes, though, the batter rises up, enveloping the vegetable, creating a cake with pockets of sweet, sour rhubarb jam. And, yes, rhubarb is indeed a vegetable!
I wasn’t sure my girls would like the cake, and prefaced it that way before serving them a thin wedge. To my surprise, it was a huge hit. I decided to halve the original recipe to make a smaller 6-inch cake. It yields six normal-for-us size servings, or four very generous slices of cake. Delicious as this Simple Rhubarb Cake was the afternoon I first baked it, I found it aged well, and loved it even more the next day, after sitting on the counter overnight.
Six More Ways To Enjoy Rhubarb
Double Crust Mostly Rhubarb Pie
Simple Rhubarb Cake
- 3 stalks 250 grams rhubarb, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 8 tablespoons 100 grams sugar
- 3 1/2 tablespoons 50 grams butter, softened
- 1 egg
- Freshly grated zest of 1/4 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup 95 grams flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Thick pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 6-inch cake tin with parchment long enough to cover up the sides to the top of the pan.
- Add the rhubarb to a small bowl, and toss with 3 tablespoons (35 grams) of sugar.
- In a separate small bowl, add the butter and beat until creamy, 30 seconds. Add the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the egg, lemon zest, and vanilla, Beat until fluffy and well mixed, 1 minute.
- Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and milk. Beat on low until just mixed, then increase speed to high for 15 seconds.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Evenly spread the rhubarb on top. It'll seem like too much—don't worry. The batter rises over it as it bakes, enveloping the rhubarb.
- Bake for 1 hour, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean of batter (there might be some sticky rhubarb-like jam on it). Let the cake cool completely before cutting, preferably all day, or overnight.
Love this cake. Just made it yesterday and I added the very tasty almond topping that the cookbook suggests which made it a bit sweeter. That didn’t prevent me from having it for breakfast again this morning. Was surprised at how light the batter was. Thanks for the idea.
YES!! I grew up eating straight up rhubarb pie with a lattice crust, unadulterated with strawberries. It was a recipe my mother grew up with in Ireland. A few years ago I found this recipe for rhubarb bread and butter pudding which is also amazing! http://www.rachelallen.com/post/rhubarb-bread-and-butter-pudding
Thanks for reminding me it’s rhubarb season!
Jennie, Thank you for this recipe, with its easy method and delicious results. As winter fades each year, I always long for rhubarb season, but my old tried and true recipes for full-size pies and cakes no longer serve me well. We’re a two-person household now, and so this recipe is ideal, making a two-day cake for us (dessert, breakfast, dessert). I used a gluten-free flour blend and my smallest round pan (7″), which worked well.
Carol—Thanks for letting us know about the gluten-free flour results, and so glad you liked the cake. xo-Jennie