Why, yes, that is rhubarb. And, yes, I know that rhubarb is a spring treat and it is not currently spring anywhere.
But, when there’s a man in the house who loves to cook and is willing, nay, eager to cook, you mustn’t quibble when he wants to bake with rhubarb out of season!
My husband is the main cook at our house. He likes it and is amazingly good at it. And since I’ve already posted the three or four recipes that I know how to make, it’s time to move on to sharing some of his concoctions!
He found this recipe for Rhubarb-Pecan Upside-Down Cake in a back issue of Yankee magazine, a US magazine featuring all things New England. And even though he is usually more of a cook than a baker, this recipe seduced him and he could not rest until he made it!
I hope it’ll seduce you, too, and that, even if you believe that rhubarb can only be cooked with in spring, you will remember it when the time comes. It’s a lovely balance of sweet and tart, crunchy and crumbly. Plus you get to use a springform pan, which, if you’re like me, will make you feel like a real cook!
Rhubarb–Pecan Upside-Down Cake by Jane Walsh
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Overview: You start with pecans, brown sugar, butter, and rhubarb, then cover those ingredients with the cake batter. When the cake is baked and inverted, the rhubarb, sugar, and nuts create a caramelized topping that is delightful!
Preheat oven to 350° and set a rack in the middle position. Butter a 9-inch springform pan; then cut a round piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. (The original recipe says you can use a cake pan). Place the pan on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, in case your springform pan leaks. (Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do).
Ingredients for the topping (which will be at the bottom for now!):
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- ¾ pound rhubarb stalks, cut into 1-inch-long diagonals
- ½ cup pecan halves (we used a full cup and we toasted the pecans in the oven first; see notes)
- ½ cup firmly packed light-brown sugar (we used more!)
To create the topping, start by arranging the pecan halves in the bottom of the pan and pour melted butter over them. Arrange the rhubarb, then sprinkle all over with the ½ cup of brown sugar. Set aside.
Ingredients for cake batter
- ½ cup pecan halves
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup whole or reduced-fat milk
Instructions or the cake batter:
In a food processor, pulse the pecans until very finely chopped.
Mix the nuts with the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. You can do this mixing of dry ingredients in your food processor or by hand in a bowl.
In a large bowl, beat the remaining ½ cup of butter with the granulated sugar until fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times.
Add the remaining ½ cup of brown sugar
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
Add the milk in two batches, alternating with the dry ingredients, and scraping down the bowl as needed.
Pour the batter over the rhubarb mixture, and smooth with a spatula.
Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, run a knife around the edge to loosen, and invert the warm cake onto a serving plate. (If the cake cools too long, it will be hard to remove from the pan.) Serve warm or at room temperature.
Toasting the pecans before using adds a great deal of flavor. I toast pecans in the oven, set at 350 degrees, for about 12 minutes. I use a heavy cookie sheet and stir the nuts every few minutes. They will start to smell yummy; be sure not to let them burn!
You may be tempted to use more than the called-for amount of rhubarb. If you do, you’ll be adding extra moisture to the cake and it will take longer to cook and may not cook fully in the center. Don’t ask me how we know that. We just do.
We served this with vanilla ice cream and a puree made from the leftover fresh rhubarb. YUM!