Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that is harvested in spring. It grows in cooler climates so it's not easy to find in my area. Choose firm, fresh stalks and always discard the leaves. Rhubarb is very tart and many recipes use a lot of sugar to sweeten it up. This upside down cake recipe is loosely based on a recipe from Martha Stewart. You can use any fruit for the cakes; peaches, plums or apples would be very nice.
Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
1 vanilla bean
3 cups self rising flour ( I prefer White Lily for the softest cakes and bicuits)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter - room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
2 cups chopped rhubarb (more or less)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
8 Tablespoons butter - room temperature
1 Tablespoon rum or substitute another liquor or agave syrup
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
This recipe will make 2 eight inch cakes or 4 six inch cakes. Prepare the pans with butter and flour and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out. Add the seeds to the chopped rhubarb. Measure the milk into a heatproof bowl and add the scraped vanilla bean. Heat the milk for about 1 minute in the microwave until it is no longer cold. Set the milk and rhubarb aside.
The next step is to prepare the sugar and butter mixture for the upside down magic. Mix the brown sugar, maple syrup, rum (I subbed agave), butter, oil and salt with a fork until it's creamy. Divide this between the pans and spread it around to cover the bottom of each pan. Top this with the chopped rhubarb and set the pans aside.
Make the cake batter by putting the room temperature butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and mixing on high speed. Add the 4 eggs one at a time and mix on high until everything is light and fluffy. Sift the measured flour onto a piece of paper or into a bowl. Now, alternately add the flour and the milk, 1/3 at a time, mixing on low. Once you add the flour to a cake batter it is important NOT to over mix it. Let's keep your cake soft and light; lots of mixing develops the gluten and will make the cake dense. You can use a rubber spatula to fold the last bits of flour in. Once everything is combined, pour the batter into the pans and bake for about 35-40 minutes. The cakes are done when they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let them cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert onto a pretty plate.