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Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

I've always been totally fascinated by the alchemy of cooking and baking . . . it's all so very magical to me . . . I find myself sitting sometimes and wondering . . . who was it that first decided that eggs were good to eat . . . and then, moving on from there . . . who discovered that if you beat eggs together with flour and sugar and a bit of leavening, you got cake???

I could spend hours pondering such questions. I know . . . I'm an odd duck, maybe . . . but I'm quite sure I'm not alone in this oddness . . .

The shops are full of early rhubarb right now . . . the forced kind from Yorkshire . . . or the Rhubarb Triangle which it is also known as. This is a 9 square mile triangle of land in West Yorkshire which is famous for producing forced rhubarb.

Forced rhubarb grows in special sheds, specific to that purpose, and is some of the most tender and colourful rhubarb you can find . . . pretty pink red. Gorgeous actually. There are only 12 farmers who actually grow it and the season for this delectable early rhubarb will soon be over.

Indeed my own rhubarb in the garden is coming up like crazy at the moment. I hope it does better than it did last year . . . it was very fibrous and almost hollow. Not sure what the problem was.

In any case I picked up some of this early forced rhubarb the other day just to make this delectable cake. It's my favourite spring cake . . . with a beautiful sponge topped with sweet/tart rhubarb and it is perfect for showcasing the pretty colour of this early stuff.
I like to have it with whipped cream . . . but a purest would probably want custard. Todd want's custard. He says rhubarb and custard go together like peas and carrots . . . and he would not be wrong!

*Rhubarb Upside Down Cake*
Makes one 9 inch round cake
Printable Recipe

Tasty cake topped with a delicious sweet/tart rhubarb mixture.

2 TBS butter
96g of caster sugar (1/2 cup)
50g of soft light brown sugar (1/4 cup)
300g of rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)

For the cake:
76g of white vegetable shortening (1/3 cup)
96g of caster sugar (1/2 cup)
1 large free range egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
99g of plain flour (1 cup)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 fluid ounces milk (1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Have ready a 9 inch round cake tin.

Melt the butter in a 9 inch round cake tin. Stir in the sugar and brown sugar. Spread it out evenly in the pan. Lay the rhubarb pieces on top.

Cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beating until smooth. Pour over the fruit mixture in the pan. Smooth over the top.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes until risen and lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before inverting onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges to serve. Top with whipped cream or ice cream to serve. Serve warm.
Marie Rayner
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  1. Mmmmmmmmm - can't beat some new season rhubarb. Loving it, especially that whirl of whipped cream too!

  2. Hi Marie

    This (like so many of your recipes!) looks delicious but I wanted to ask you why you use white vegetable shortening instead of butter? I'd love to know. Many thanks

  3. Una delicia de tarta. Aqui en Alsacia la coronan con merengue.
    Un saludo

  4. Ooh what a lovely idea for rhubarb, such a pretty colour I think!

    And no you definitely not alone, I think baking has a little magic to it :)

  5. Linda May, I use vegetable shortening because that is what the recipe calls for. I have never tried it with butter. You can substitute butter if you adjust the proportions. Butter is not 100% fat, as shortening is, so you may find you need to adjust the liquids in your recipe too. And shortening has a different melting point than butter so your baked goods will behave differently in the oven. And of course, there is the flavor difference.

    I think that if I wasn't going to use shortening, I might opt for margarine, if I had to, since margarine is the vegetable substitution for butter. But I'm not a huge fan of margarine. I'd just use the shortening.

  6. What a STUNNING dessert, such pretty colours and it sounds and looks amazing! I DO love rhubarb and I am looking forward to the season very much!

  7. this really is a wonderful dessert - SO beautiful and I can just imagine how delicious it tasted!
    Mary x

  8. This looks like a SURE SIGN OF SPRING to come - thanks- lovely!

  9. I just love your recipes, Marie! Today I made your Peanut Butter Blondies Bars - so yummy! I love that your recipes have found their way to our little corner of SE Washington state. Every day I open up a new post from you is like getting a little gift! Thank you so much!


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