If I were a plant, I’d want to be rheum rhabarbarum (rhubarb). Short, thick, tart and pretty: who wouldn’t want to get with rhubarb? It’s one of the more pulchritudinous creeping rootstalks (obviously), but did you know that rhubarb is also slang for fight? Use it as you would donnybrook, melee or brannigan. For example: there was a real rhubarb at the bar last night! It figures, as rhubarb is pretty badass. It takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. Also, it has leaves that could kill you. Not that it stops people from being super excited to see it every spring. It’s the Walter White of the garden – loveable anti-hero, poison and all.
Proof positive that rhubarb is one tough mofo? It survived winter 2013. Let’s celebrate with cake.
This snacking cake is lightly flavoured and scented with cardamom, which pairs very well with rhubarb. For the topping, I brought cinnamon and cardamom together, and then added some pistachios for texture – they’re a nice change from a more traditional walnut or pecan topping. The sweet and slightly crunchy topping gives way to a tender, moist cake below. With an extended bake-time, the rhubarb melts into the batter – it’s part of the reason the cake is so exceptionally moist. There’s lots of brown sugar in there, which balances the tartness of the rhubarb. If you haven’t tried rhubarb and/or cardamom, I’d like to suggest that a cake of this sort is a great way to get acquainted, as neither overwhelms.
We’ve had three test versions of this cake this week, so we’re pretty confident we could rhubarb anyone who comes into our yard. (Cake gives you superpowers.)
One more thing: if you’re faking a conversation on stage, you can keep mouthing the word rhubarb randomly. Cantaloupe works too, as does watermelon. (Trust. I’m in the performing arts.) But don’t mouth the phrase elephant shoe repeatedly, because it looks like you’re saying I love you over and over again.
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Cardamom Rhubarb Snacking Cake
Yields one 9 inch springform pan.
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup brilliant light brown (brilliant yellow) sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachios (raw, hulled, unsalted)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
For the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 1/2 cups light brown (brilliant yellow) sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
Mise en place – begin by getting organized. Read through the entire recipe before beginning. Measure out all of your ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 inch (3 inches deep) springform pan, and line bottom with parchment paper.
Begin by making the topping: in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, pistachios, melted butter, cinnamon and cardamom until crumbly and well combined. Set aside.
Make the cake: in a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cardamom. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), cream together the brown sugar, butter and egg on medium speed until smooth and no lumps remain. Beat in the vanilla.
Reduce speed to low, and add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the Greek yogurt. (Add as follows: 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 yogurt, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 yogurt, 1/3 flour mixture.) Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with each addition, and avoid over-mixing.
Fold in the rhubarb by hand.
Spread the cake batter evenly in the prepared springform pan. Sprinkle the surface of the cake evenly with topping.
Bake 50-60 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. (I check for doneness after baking for about 45 minutes, and then continue checking every few minutes from there.) The cake will be a deep, golden brown, and may begin to pull back a little from the sides of the pan. The centre should not be jiggly – it should be somewhat firm and spring back to the touch.
Allow the cake to cool for about 15-20 minutes before releasing the springform sides, and then allow to cool completely before cutting.
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