Ali Slagle works in the Marketing and Publicity department at Ten Speed Press and is a regular Recipe Club contributor. She is currently studying in Berkeley, with more cookbooks than textbooks in tow.
I just moved into a really old house—1886 to be exact. The excitement of settling into a quaint, charming spot was beleaguered by the eternal headache that is moving. There are so many decisions: what to keep, what to sell, what to throw out. The process is never simple, but my game plan was to only take the essentials.
An advanced copy of a precious book called Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson (Ten Speed Press, July 2012) made it through the elimination process. I’d been dog-earing pages for many weeks, counting down the days until I had a settled kitchen to bake in.
Only having moved in yesterday, the kitchen and I still aren’t quite settled, but my patience grew thin and I scavenged together all the necessities to (finally) make the delectable-sounding Rhubarb Pudding Cake.
“The oodles of ruby-red syrup was surely beautiful”
The author—also the author of Rustic Fruit Desserts and owner of Bakery and Spice Bakery in Portland–foretold the way to my heart with this recipe that includes making sweet rhubarb compote for the top and simple batter for the bottom. She also miraculously predicted my apprehension when the compote turned out very runny. The oodles of ruby-red syrup was surely beautiful, and reminded me of Heidi Swanson’s Rhubarb and Rosewater Syrup Recipe, but the author knew I would need reassurance that I didn’t make a mistake. The recipe comforted: “all will be well once the cake has baked.”
And with the first bite of this Rhubarb Pudding Cake, Julie couldn’t have said truer words: all is well. Very well.
Rhubarb Pudding Cake
from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson (Ten Speed Press, July 2012)
|45 to 50 minutes||21/2-quart square baking dish or 9-inch square cake pan, greased with 1 tablespoon of soft butter|
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed of leaves and ends, diced (4 cups)
11/2 cups (101/2 ounces) sugar
1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup water
12/3 cups (81/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (9 ounces) full-fat sour cream or whole milk yogurt, at room temperature
Ice cream, for serving (optional)
Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make a compote by tossing together the rhubarb and 1 cup of the sugar in a medium heavy saucepan with a lid. Add the vanilla bean and water, cover, and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft but has not completely broken down. Give the rhubarb a stir or two while it is cooking. Take the compote off the heat but keep it covered so it will stay warm while you make the cake.
To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then whisk the ingredients by hand to ensure they are well mixed.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar together on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. As you make the batter, stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Blend in the eggs one at a time, adding the second egg as soon as the first one has disappeared into the batter, followed by the vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream in two parts, so that you begin and end with the flour mixture.
Spread the batter into the prepared dish or pan and distribute the compote over the top. The compote will be quite runny, but don’t fear: all will be well once the cake has baked. Place the cake in the center of the oven and bake until the edges are firm and the center no longer jiggles, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool for about 30 minutes, then spoon it right from the pan into bowls and top with a scoop of ice cream.
This cake is best the day it is made, but well-wrapped it can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.