Friday, July 12, 2013

Rhubarb Right-Side-Up Cake

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Two years ago today, my dad died.  He’d been in generally failing health for about five years, but his death wasn’t imminent when I went home to Idaho for what was supposed to be a short visit–in fact, for the first two days I was home, he seemed perfectly fine.  But I wound up staying for almost two weeks, because my dad died on the day I was supposed to be heading back to the Foodie family.

It goes without saying that I miss my dad.  But I’m at a point where I can think about his death and recognize that it happened, for the most part, exactly the way I would have wanted it to.  He didn’t suffer.  He was at home, in a familiar room, surrounded by people he loved.  And I was with him.  Standing beside his bed, holding his hand and rubbing his arm, telling him everything would be all right.

And it was.  Parents aren’t meant to outlive their children–they’re supposed to go first.  My dad lived longer than anyone might have expected, given his rough start in life and a military career that included three serious combat injuries (not to mention the fact that he was a smoker, and had been since the age of twelve.)  He lived a mostly happy life, and when he died at 84 there was only love between us.  He didn’t know me anymore, but when he did, I knew he loved me.  And I loved him.  And that, too, is exactly as it should be.

The last thing I made for my dad was Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake.  I had intended to mark this day by making it again.  But then it occurred to me that maybe it was time to commemorate the fact that, although I still wish he were here, the fact that he’s gone is not a flaw in the universe.  It’s just a natural part of life.  And so I decided to create a new recipe–Rhubarb Right-Side-Up Cake–to reflect the fact that everything is as it should be.  Everything is all right, just as I told my dad it would be.

This recipe works best with small, narrow stalks of rhubarb.  I was pleasantly surprised to find some on sale at my grocery store this week, after resigning myself to using only frozen rhubarb.  If you can’t find narrow rhubarb stalks, just dice up the larger pieces.  And if you don’t have turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top, granulated sugar works too.  Either way, your cake will be just fine.

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Rhubarb Right-Side-Up Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/8 cup flour (I used Pamela's Gluten-Free Artisan Blend)
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 T. butter, melted and cooled
3 T. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups rhubarb--sliced if using narrow stalks, diced if not
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top (granulated sugar will work too)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Whisk to combine the dry ingredients, then set this bowl aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, and extracts. Whisk to combine, then pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Use a spatula and stir just until the dry ingredients have been incorporated.

Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan. Evenly sprinkle the chopped rhubarb over the top, then sprinkle turbinado sugar over the rhubarb. The rhubarb will sink into the cake batter a little way, but that's fine.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until a knife inserted at the center comes out clean.

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