Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

We enjoyed the Market Box from Thames River Melons so much last year, that we’re doing it again this year. Their upcoming delivery reminded me of last spring’s rhubarb that was still in the freezer. I needed to cook with the old, cut fruit, before we got even more fresh stalks! Fortunately, a recent magazine featured the perfect way to use it.

This recipe for an upside down cake was first published in Cook’s Illustrated, May/June 2021. I loved that it used a lot of rhubarb, and had a crunchy streusel too. I weighed how much frozen rhubarb I had: about two pounds. This meant that I would be doubling the recipe, and baking it in a 9x13” pan. I took out the Ziploc bag and patiently let it thaw in the fridge over a few days.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

After draining all the liquid, the weight of the thawed rhubarb was reduced to about a pound. Uh-oh. I had to make up the difference with some frozen raspberries (also defrosted and drained). Making the fruit layer was straightforward, with sugar and cornstarch to sweeten and thicken, and melted butter for richness.

The cake batter can be whisked entirely by hand, and had a generous amount of bold flavours: cardamom, lemon zest, and vanilla. My one complaint about this recipe is that melted butter is needed in all three components. It would have been a lot easier if I had scaled the total butter required, melted it, then dipped into the bowl as needed. Anyhow, assembling the cake is easy once all the components are made.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

The cake is baked at a moderate heat and produced a beautifully golden cake. It looked even more spectacular after it was flipped, and glazed with red currant jelly. Wow, was this cake ever delicious. The fruit cooked down to a jammy, tart consistency, and the streusel became a sturdy, crunchy base. I was pleased with how balanced the flavourings were in the cake.

Highly recommended. I’m sure I’ll be making this again and again, as we’re going to be getting weekly rhubarb deliveries throughout the spring.

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