Recipe Reveal: Rhubarb Upside Down Crumb Cake
Rhubarb is the happy harbinger of spring. It’s the first crop of the season to pop up in home gardens in Connecticut, so it’s welcomed with open arms. Tall green and red stalks jut out of the ground surrounded by massive leaves proudly announcing their arrival. Rhubarb is still here in June, but its season is almost over. It hangs on just long enough for strawberries to arrive, which is why I Imagine rhubarb is often paired with strawberries in recipes such as Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.
Technically a vegetable, rhubarb is usually treated like a fruit because it is very sour and nearly impossible to eat without adding sugar or other sweeteners. When I was a kid, I remember pulling a stalk off a rhubarb plant growing in our yard in Massachusetts and taking a quick bite, expecting it to taste like pink celery. Oh no. Soooo sour! Couldn’t even finish chewing that one bite.
But when cooked and sweetened, rhubarb is delicious. Today’s Recipe Reveal is for Rhubarb Upside Down Crumb Cake which showcases the rhubarb without it being masked or hidden by berries. The cake has three layers, a crumb topping which becomes the bottom when the cake is inverted, a soft sour cream cake, and a layer of tangy sweet/tart rhubarb. The recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart. I added cinnamon to the crumb topping and increased the amount of orange zest in the cake.
For grandma’s 80th birthday this past weekend, my daughter made this cake using rhubarb grown in grandma’s yard. It just seemed right.
Rhubarb Upside Down Crumb Cake
For the Topping:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
For the Cake:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for buttering pan
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut on a very sharp diagonal about 1/2 inch thick. If rhubarb is thin, cut in lengthier pieces.
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2 Make the topping: In a medium bowl, Stir together melted butter, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt until moist and crumbly. Set aside.
3. Make the cake: Butter a 9-inch round cake pan which is at least 3 inches tall. The cake will rise quite a bit. (I used a 3 inch springform pan with the bottom wrapped in foil to prevent leakage).
4. Dot pan with 1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons) cut into small pieces.
5. Toss the cut rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Toss again, then arrange the rhubarb in the bottom of the pan, use all the sugar and juice.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder salt. Set aside.
7. In a mixing bowl, beat 1 stick butter and 1 cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in zest and orange juice. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream in two additions, until smooth.
8. Spread batter evenly over rhubarb. Crumble the topping evenly over batter.
9. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched, about 1 hour.
10. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely. Transfer cake to serving dish. Serves 8 to 10. Serve with whipped cream if desired.