Monday, May 23, 2011

Rhubarb Week!


I am obsessed with rhubarb right now, and I decided to make it official. 

I hereby declare this to be the Coppertop Kitchen Official Week of Rhubarb!

For my whole life, I have been content to make one rhubarb crisp a year, sit down and eat the whole thing myself with a spoon, and wait until next spring to do it again.  This year, I decided to find out what else I might be able to do with this delicious seasonal vegetable/fruit!  Each day this week, I will devote my time here to sharing little-known-facts about rhubarb, and some recipes that don't (all) involve strawberries and/or pastry.

Did you know?
Rhubarb was first cultivated in China for medicinal purposes (it is a digestive aid, and can be a mild laxative), and was first grown for culinary purposes in Britain and America in the 18th century. 

Rhubarb Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2008

This recipe originally used cherries and balsamic vinegar instead of rhubarb and bourbon, but my version worked beautifully.  Also, I don't have an appropriately-sized and -shaped skillet, so I used a regular 9-inch cake pan. 

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon bourbon 
3 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (4-5 stalks) 
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground medium grind)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon bourbon
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Combine 1/4 cup butter with brown sugar and 1 tablespoon bourbon in 10- to 11-inch ovenproof skillet with 2-inch-high sides. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to high; add rhubarb and bring to boil. Remove from heat.

Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl. Add sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla and 1 teaspoon bourbon. Add flour mixture alternately with milk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff but not dry. Using rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of whites into batter to lighten slightly. Fold in remaining whites in 3 additions (batter will be thick). Spoon batter over rhubarb in skillet, then spread evenly with offset spatula to cover rhubarb.

Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in skillet on rack 5 minutes. Run spatula around edges of cake to loosen. Place large serving platter upside down atop skillet. Using pot holders or oven mitts, firmly hold platter and skillet together and invert. Leave skillet atop cake 5 minutes. Remove skillet. If necessary, rearrange any fruit that may have become dislodged. Let cake cool at least 45 minutes. Cut cake into wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or bourbon-laced fresh whipped cream.

1 comment:

  1. Our family always looks forward to Rhubarb Custard Pie (made with sour cream) as well as a delicious moist Rhubarb Cake, topped with sugar cinnamon and nuts. If you have extra rhubarb and don't know what to do with it, we could provide recipes to try. Rhubarb grows VERY well in Alaska. It likes the cool, damp weather there.