I really wanted to tell you about the asparagus risotto I made this week. It was creamy and subtle and deliciously spring-ish, while comforting enough for the chilly air that settles around us in the evenings. But I can’t. It would be irresponsible- nay, reprehensible– to allow you to go on living one more day of your life without hearing about this cake.
There are cakes for celebrations, and then there are cakes like this. This is an everyday cake, padding around in day-old jeans and a faded t-shirt, perfect for coffee and a bit of freshly whipped cream. But at the same time, this is a seriously awesome cake. This is a make-this-when-your-mother-in-law-comes cake. Even if it’s only in jeans, it’s impressive. Sweet, sticky, and spicy. What more do you need?!
This is from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours, except she wrote it as a cranberry-nut cake. She also included in the margins directions for a peach version, but I decided to springify. I halved the cinnamon from the original recipe and added half a teaspoon of fresh cardamom- and WOW. If you’ve got cardamom, break that bad boy out for this cake. I don’t know if there’s anything I like more in spring than the combination of strawberries, rhubarb, and cardamom.
There’s also no salt in this cake. That may dismay some and cheer others. I will admit that I cheated and used salted butter for the “topping” and unsalted for the actual batter, because I had some stray salted laying around. Don’t be afraid to add salt if you know you like it in your cakes and muffins.
Strawberry-rhubarb upside downer
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: FMHTY
14 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons + 1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup chopped rhubarb
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350. Put an 8×2 (or 9×2) round cake pan on a baking sheet (you WILL want the baking sheet!).
Melt 6 T of the butter and whisk in 6 T of the sugar. Stirring, bring up to a brief boil, then pour evenly into the bottom of the cake pan. Sprinkle strawberries and rhubarb on top of the butter-sugar combination and press lightly to flatten. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the remaining 8 T (1/2 cup) of butter for 2-3 minutes until soft and creamy. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cream well for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each one and scraping the bowl down as needed. Pour in the vanilla. Turn the mixer down to low and add in half of the dry ingredients, only mixing until barely incorporated. Mix in the milk. Then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Spoon the batter in the pan over the strawberries and rhubarb, and smooth the top down.
Bake on the baking sheet for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. With a knife, loosen the cake from the pan around the edges, but allow to sit for 20-30 minutes to let the cake soak up as much of the juice as it can. While still warm, carefully turn out the cake onto a plate.
Serve thick slices with fresh whipped cream or ice cream, preferably while still a bit warm (or warmed up for 20 seconds in the microwave. Enjoy!