Back in the day, we grew rhubarb in the backyard. Mom used to make Rhubarb Pie or Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, and we thought they were simply a taste sensation – so tangy and so sweet at the same time – my mouth just waters at the thought of these delicious desserts. Rhubarb is one of those seasonal items I just can’t get enough of when its in season, which for us is right now! When I saw the New York Times’ Best Rhubarb Recipes, I knew I would make something with the luscious vegetable, which we all think of as a fruit, BTW. I chose this super-easy and tasty Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake – and it did not disappoint.
And, like all recipes, I just couldn’t help myself, I had to make a change or two. The couple of changes I made were really just to simplify things a bit. First, I baked it in a cast iron pan – and you know how much I love to bake in cast iron. This saved an entire pan, as the original recipe called for melting the butter and brown sugar first in a saucepan, and then transferring it to a parchment-lined cake pan. So this change eliminates the extra saucepan and the parchment! The other change I made was actually by mistake. For some reason, I overlooked the instruction to blanch the rhubarb (cook in boiling water for 2 minutes), probably to maintain its beautiful ruby color. So, there it it – my cake may be a little less colorful, but certainly no less delicious.
This cake will bring you back to your very first taste of rhubarb (remember that?) – super-tart, “what did I just taste?”, followed by the sweet/tart yumminess that is just so rhubarb-y that you really just want another bite. And we all know sweet strawberries are the perfect complement to rhubarb. The cake would be delicious on its own, but it is the perfect showcase for the fruit – it is a little dense like a shortcake, but tender like a poundcake. Another slice, anyone?
If you’re looking for other ways to use rhubarb, be sure to check out my Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, or the incomparable Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter, both fantastic rhubarb dishes. But this Strawberry Rhubarb Upside-Down cake may become your go-to spring dessert for its ease and fantastic flavor! Enjoy!
Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
Adapted from a NY Times Cooking recipe by Molly O’Neill, this cake is smooth, dense and filled with sweet and tart flavors from Strawberries and Rhubarb and a delightful vanilla note from the cake. So easy to prepare, too! I adapted the recipe by preparing it in a cast-iron skillet (this saves dirtying a saucepan and a greasing/parchment paper step. I also inadvertently skipped the blanching step. Not sure it’s necessary.
The cake is wonderful served warm with ice cream or whipped cream, but is also delicious room temperature.
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 60
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 10 servings
- Category: Cakes, Desserts, Sweets
For the Topping:
- 4 T Unsalted Butter
- 3/4 c Light Brown Sugar
- 1/3 c Sliced Almonds
- 1 pt. Strawberries, stemmed and halved
- 3 c. Rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/4″ slices, and the wide slices into smaller bits
For the Cake:
- 1/2 c Unsalted butter, softened
- 1 c Sugar
- 2 Large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 c milk (I used 2%), room temperature
- 1 t Natural Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/2 c AP Flour
- 2 t Baking Powder
- 1/2 t salt
Prepare the Topping:
Preheat oven to 350F (340F for convection). In a 9″ cast iron skillet, heat the 4 T butter until melted. Add the brown sugar and cook until the sugar is melted and dissolved and mixture is smooth. Spread evenly over pan bottom. Spread the almonds over the butter-sugar mixture, then top the almonds with strawberry halves, keeping cut-side up. You can make it pretty by arranging in concentric circles if you like. Spread the rhubarb chunks over the berries. Set aside.
Make the cake batter:
Use an electric or hand mixer to cream the 1/2 cup butter and the sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the milk and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 increments, alternating with the milk mixture. Mix until just combined. (Cake will be tough if you overmix.)
Pour the batter over the topping in the pan. Spread evenly to the edges so the top is flat. Bake 55-60 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven, let cool slightly (5-10 minutes). Run a sharp knife between the cake and sides of the pan, and invert onto your serving dish.
- Serving Size: 1/10 cake
- Calories: 390