Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Rhubarb seems to be a controversial fruit! I have met so many people who grew up on mushy, stewed, stringing rhubarb and now cannot stand the sight of it. Then there are those who count down the days until rhubarb season so they can use the pretty pink perfection in desserts, with salads and anything they can imagine.

Until recently, I was firmly in the former camp. Too many bowls of mush as a kid, no matter what it was topped with! Now however, I have discovered the wonderful versatility of the fruit (or actually, vegetable so I believe.) The first of the forced rhubarb has begun to spring up and it is a delight to work with. I have been poaching it in a simple syrup, pairing it with sweet geranium (I can help it) and of course a little rosewater never hurts with rhubarb.

When I was stuck for a dessert last week, it came to my rescue. I had plenty of pretty poached rhubarb in the fridge in a gorgeous pink syrup, I had the wherewithal to whip whip together a quick sponge cake so it was decided – an upside down cake. This is really simple, delicous and honestly, the colors make me swoon!!

Easy Peasy Rhubarb Upside Down Cake:

For the poached rhubarb:

  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 300ml tap water
  • 225g rhubarb cut into pretty 1in pieces

For the cake batter:

  • 110g soft butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • splash of milk
  1. Heat your oven to 175C/350F. Grease and line an 8in cake tin with parchment
  2. Next make the poached rhubarb. Place the sugar and the water into a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. I sometimes add sweet geranium leaves to infuse this syrup, it gives a beautiful, delicate flavor.
  3. Once the syrup comes to a boil, turn down the heat, add the rhubarb pieces and simmer for 1 min. Turn off the heat. This is really important, if you keep boiling, it will fall apart. Allow to cool in the syrup. Reserve this syrup for drizzling over the cake later
  4. While the rhubarb is cooling, you can make the cake batter. Cream the butter and sugar well until they are light and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg, bit by bit to prevent the picture from curdling. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
  6. Now arrange the rhubarb pieces in the bottom of the cake tin, in whatever pattern you like, so that it is ready for the cake batter.
  7. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture and fold in, being careful not to overtax the batter. If the batter looks a little thick, add a splash of milk so it will be easier to spread.
  8. Spread the batter over the pieces of rhubarb, being careful not to disturb them. I like to put a little dip in the middle of the batter so that it rises evenly.
  9. Bake for 20-25 mins or until the cake springs back when pressed and begins to come away from the sides of the tin. Cool slightly then turn out onto a cake stand.
  10. Finally, drizzle the cake with some of the poaching syrup and serve with some softly whipped cream. I like to sprinkle some chopped pistachios on top, yum!

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