My mother's mother had a teeny-tiny garden in Olean, NY, where lily of the valley, peonies, bachelor's button and rhubarb grew in the spring. Growing up with a grandmother and mother who loved rhubarb and loved to make rhubarb pie, I thought everyone had an appreciation for the red- and green-streaked vegetable. Yes, vegetable. Not so. It's so tart and fibrous some people just can't get their head and taste buds around it.
Rhubarb is sometimes called pie plant, because it is so often used in pies. I use it to make muffins and coffee cake and simmer it with a little water and generous scoop of brown sugar to make a sweet-tart sauce to spoon on yogurt and over vanilla ice cream or to just eat on its own. A recipe for rhubarb scones appeared on my radar this week. Those will be next.
Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
From Real Simple Magazine
10 ounces (1¼ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
1 pound rhubarb, cut into 4-inch pieces
1½ cups granulated sugar, divided
½ cup packed light brown sugar, divided
2 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
⅓ cup full-fat plain or vanilla yogurt
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and line an 8-inch square pan with parchmen paper. Butter the parchment, then lightly flour the parchment and the pan, shaking out any excess.
Toss the rhubarb, ½ cup of the granulated sugar, and ¼ cup of the brown sugar together in a bowl. Layer the rhubarb across the bottom of the pan in a grid pattern, adding any remaining sugar mixture to the pan.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the butter, remaining sugars, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about four minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the yogurt on low speed. (The mixture may look curdled.) Gradually add the flour mixture and stir to combine.
Spoon the batter over the rhubarb and spread evenly. (The pan will be almost full, literally). Place the cake pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips or put baking sheet on low rack to catch any drips. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 1 hour, 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert the onto a platter, rhubarb-side up. (Discard the parchment paper.) Cut the cake into squares and serve warm with vanilla or strawberry ice cream or frozen yogurt. Makes about 9 servings (or more, depending on size).