Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cake Day!: Rhubarb Cake

It's Cake Day here chez Take One Cookbook. I've got a Bacardi Rum Cake baking away in the oven as we speak, and the scent is heavenly; it's distracted me utterly from all things non-cake. So, let's delve for the last time into the Spratt/Bachman & Mellberg/McKenzie Family Cookbook 2008, and go for something seasonal and cakey from Aunt Agnes:
Rhubarb Cake
Agnes Bachman Pengilly

1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. sour milk or buttermilk
1 tsp. soda
2 cups flour
2 cups rhubarb

Topping - 3/4 c. white sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon. Put on top of cake. Bake 30-35 minutes.
Get the feeling that, in my family, one is just expected to know how the heck to bake? Let's break this down for the non-Spratts/Bachmans/Mellbergs/McKenzies out there:

Pan: Use a 9 x 13. Yes, I know.
Oven temp: 350°F
  • Cream the butter and sugar together.
  • Beat in eggs.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients.
  • Alternate adding flour mixture and sour milk or buttermilk to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
  • Toss the cut up rhubarb in a bit of flour (so that it disperses nicely in the cake, or so my mother always told me).
  • Top as directed.
  • Bake as directed.
  • Cool in pan.
  • Serve hunks of cake topped with Cool Whip, whipped cream, or, heck, warmed up in a bowl and then topped with ice cream or whole milk.
Rhubarb's so darned moist, tangy, and tasty! I remember lots of rhubarb in the family, growing up. I never even thought to try buying it in the grocery store, though, as everyone back home seems to have it in their gardens -- well, assuming their house was built and garden established by someone in my Grandpa's generation. But, yes, it's purchase-able in grocery stores, and it's in season, so, get yourself some! Eat it raw, dipped in sugar; or make a compote, if cake-baking seems too much for you. Or, mmm, try it in a strawberry-rhubarb pie... I love late spring!

If you want to go the sour milk route, take 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar, and put it in your 1 cup liquid measuring cup. Top off with enough milk to make 1 cup. Let stand for about 10 minutes, and voila! Soured milk. Don't just use milk that's past date in your fridge; you don't want spoiled milk. If this sounds too chemistry-class for you, just buy some buttermilk.

This cake is great warm, or at room temperature. It's, of course, a good dessert, but it's equally tasty for a homey breakfast. Go get a couple stalks of rhubarb (which is a vegetable, even though normally eaten as a fruit), and enjoy the tang.

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