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Rhubarb is one of my favorite ingredients to work with. I love it so much! When I saw it at the farmers’ market a few weeks ago, the first of the year for me, I actually squealed and jumped up and down, just a little, until my husband calmly took my arm: “It’s rhubarb.” Oh. Yes, but it’s RHUBARB! Let’s cook.

I made a batch of my favorite jam in the whole wide world last weekend, rhubarb-ginger, and this weekend decided to get some more and bake with it. I’ve been reading about roasted rhubarb and have never experienced that, so stay tuned: I hope to give it a try tonight or tomorrow night. But first, I chopped up half of the pound or so I bought yesterday and made pudding cake, a variation of one of my very favorite desserts from Gourmet Today(An awesome survey-style cookbook, Gourmet Today is $6.54 on Amazon.com right now, hurry!) R made strawberry-rhubarb pudding cake (the recipe that’s in the book) for me a few springs ago and it was delicious. We’ve made it since with just strawberries and with blueberries; yesterday I had another version in mind. I replaced the strawberries in the GT recipe with extra rhubarb and added more vanilla and some cardamom, and the results are even better than I hoped for. It is cake-y enough to be cut into pieces and eaten, but full of dreamy, syrupy bits of rhubarb; it looks almost like an upside-down cake, with fruit on the bottom of a moist cake. The cardamom is a nice touch of spice to play off the sweetness of the rhubarb. This pudding cake is a lovely treat; if you need an excuse to buy rhubarb, here it is!

Rhubarb-Cardamom Pudding Cake (adapted from Gourmet Today)

  • 1/4 c. cool water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. plus 1/2 c. sugar, divided
  • 3 c. rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 8 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan, stir the cornstarch into the water; mix in 1/3 c. sugar and then add the rhubarb. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 mins. Add the cardamom and remove from the heat. Pour the fruit into your prepared pan, reserving 1/2 c. for later use.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 1/2 c. sugar. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg for 30 seconds or so before adding the milk, melted butter and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to your milk mixture and stir only until combined. Pour the batter over the rhubarb compote and spread evenly; dollop the reserved 1/2 c. of fruit over the top of the cake. Bake for 25-30 mins., until a skewer inserted into the cake (not fruit) comes out clean. Cool for 10 mins. or so before serving. A scoop of vanilla ice cream makes this an extra-special treat, though it’s also great at room temperature with your coffee.