Maybe it has something to do with its limited availability. Or the fact that, like green tea ice cream and grapefruit juice, it tastes soo good because it’s a little bit offensive. No matter the reason, ever since making this rhubarb cake last night in time for Desperate Housewives (or as they call it in Norwegian, Frustrerte Fruer, “Frustrated Ladies”), I can’t stop eating, craving, or simply daydreaming about it. To put it mildly, it’s turned me into a rhubarb glutton.
Scandinavians love rhubarb. They love it as a compote, a juice, a glaze, a muffin, a pie, a make-believe sword, and as a cake. Just like back home in Minnesota, it grows like the dickens in the corner of everyone’s garden. There’s something a little bit romantic about going out to your rhubarb patch in your bare summer feet, chopping off a few stalks with a kitchen knife, and turning such a tart, woody, rustic-looking vegetable into something sweet and warm and glorious.
This is a simple, straightforward cake. A no-nonsense, "whip up after dinner on a warm evening" kind of cake. Yes, my kind of cake. The rhubarb lends not only that unique just offensive enough, you keep wanting more and more tart quality, but also a bit of moistness. Then again, the 3 eggs, glugg of buttermilk, and generous amount of butter don’t hurt either. Since rhubarb is, for the most part, only palatable when you balance it with lots and lots of sugar, I know a lot of people only eat it as an excuse to eat… lots and lots of sugar. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that.
A scoop of something creamy- be it ice cream, whipped cream, or crème fraciche, is the only accompaniment this baby really needs. Delish!
Norwegian Rhubarb Cake
*Makes one- 9 or 10-inch (23 or 25 cm) round cake to serve 10-12
6 stalks (3 1/2 cups, 1 lb., 450g) rhubarb- sliced horizontally into 1 “(2cm) wide pieces
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2 sticks(8 oz./225 g) butter, softened
2/3 cup (1 1/2 dl) buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (280 g) All-Purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
+ an additional 1-2 Tablespoons sugar (preferably pearl sugar) and cinnamon for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Grease a 9 or 10-inch (23 or 25 cm) springform pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
- In a large bowl with a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar. Add the buttermilk, then eggs, one-by-one, stirring until well blended. Add the vanilla.
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until everything is well blended. Then fold in the sliced rhubarb.
- Using a spatula, fill the prepared springform with your batter, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the top with the 1-2 tablespoons of sugar (pearl sugar holds its shape and looks very nice) and cinnamon (as little or much as you like, but roughly 1/4 teaspoon).
- Bake on the middle rack for 45 minutes- 1 hour, checking the center with a toothpick after 45 minutes. When done, the cake should be a medium-golden brown and the toothpick should come out clean. Allow to cool on a rack.
- Serve while still warm or at room temperature with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream- although strawberry would be excellent too!