This is the time of year for reruns. No new episodes of Modern Family to help you push through. Nope. Instead there are baseball games that go on for hours and hours. And grotesque reality dating shows. But it is also the time for So You Think You Can Dance and Masterchef. So there is balance.
This is also the time of year for dance recitals. Weeks and weeks of work reduced to a few hours of sequins, missed cues and the occasional moment of greatness. There are photo days, awards nights, and parent/teacher interviews. It is the time of year for typing report cards, and photocopying memos for 300 forgetful families. And it’s the time of year for scheduling your own bathroom breaks. Because if you don’t, they just won’t happen. And you don’t have time to mop the floor. It’s crazy busy. It makes you feel barfy.
But it is also lovely. Because some of your students are going to their proms. And they show you pictures of their dresses. Because you have stated clearly – year after year – that you must approve both their dresses and dates before they are allowed to go. This year, one of my students showed up at the studio in her prom dress. Shoes and all. So I gave her the go-ahead. And some of my young students have been bringing cakes to class. Cakes they’ve been baking themselves in their mother’s kitchens. Little sugary celebrations of year-end and friendships put on hold for the summer.
So, here’s a wee rerun for you. Better than Big Brother could ever hope to be. (That show makes me sad for Americans.) I give you Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake. I told you about it last year. But I’ve made a whole lot of new friends since then, so I’m sharing the recipe with you again. Just in case you missed it the first time.
This cake is lovely. It is light. And it has bits of rhubarb floating through it. Rhubarb that has melted into the batter as it bakes. This cake is great for breakfast. Or snacking. Or dessert. It reminds me a little of coffee cake – what with that brown sugar topping and all. But it’s a very thin layer of topping. Just enough to barely cover the surface of the hot cake. A thin layer of brown sugar and cinnamon that seeps down just a little as you gently spread it on. It might seem like there’s not enough topping, but there is. Trust.
Know that I’m ironing 1.5 million chiffon skirts. And making headpieces for children who will complain that “the bobby pins are making my brain hurt.” And that as of June 10th, I’ll be embracing a new title at work: Part-Time Faculty Member.
Commence wooting now.
. . .
Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake
recipe: adapted slightly from Rosie Beaucoup, original source unknown
Yields one 9 x 9 inch pan.
For the topping:
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon butter
For the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup shortening (yes, you could use butter instead)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups diced, fresh rhubarb
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×9 inch square baking pan.
Place topping ingredients in a small bowl and rub together with your fingers until well blended. Set aside. (You could also make the topping when the cake is baking.)
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the shortening and sugars together on medium speed – 3-5 minutes. You could also do this with a hand mixer.
Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.
On medium-low speed, add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix well to combine with each addition. (Add in the following order: dry, buttermilk, dry, buttermilk, dry.)
Finally, mix the rhubarb in by hand.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 – 45 minutes. (The original recipe calls for a bake time of 60 minutes – I haven’t found it takes that long.)
You will find that the top of the cake browns before the end of the baking time, so to prevent over-browning, place a sheet of tinfoil very lightly on top of the cake surface when the top is brown but some baking time still remains. (I gently lay the tinfoil on top at about 25-30 minutes into the baking time.)
Remove from oven when cake tester comes out clean, and immediately dot the surface with the topping and spread, with as little pressure as possible, across the top of the cake. As the topping warms on the hot cake, it will become easier to spread.
Allow to cool before cutting and devouring.