This is my very favorite time of year. It’s light until 8pm leaving plenty of time for long runs after work. Every day I’m grateful for the extra sunshine, as I know winter with its dark afternoons will close in far too soon. Not only are we lucky with all the extra sun, but the farmers’ market is full of fruit. No sad winter markets with onions and potatoes in Berkeley these days. The stands are full of greens and berries and stone fruit and all the best things the season has to offer. I came home from the farmers’ … Continue reading
Last month I had dinner with friends at Heirloom Café in San Francisco. It was a dream dinner: good friends, good wine, and delicious food. We shared bites of everything, marveling more and more with each bite. My meal started with a fava bean salad that tasted green in the best possible way, continued with gnocchi that were so fluffy I took each bite in delicious disbelief, and concluded with a rhubarb upside down cake that left me wanting to guard my plate from my friends’ forks.
The miniature cake was made with such care that I was certain each piece of identically sized rhubarb had been placed with tweezers to achieve beautifully concentric pink circles. I came home determined to recreate the cake. Fava beans are best ordered in a restaurant where someone else has to shell and blanch and peel them, and the gnocchi I felt sure were technically beyond me. The cake though, I thought I could translate from mini round of restaurant dessert perfection to a home baked cake to share over tea.
Turns out this cake is good with tea, and also good with ice cream, whipped cream, hot from the oven, cold from the fridge and by the tiny wedge you can’t help but cut every time you walk past it.
Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
for the rhubarb topping:
- 3 cups rhubarb, sliced in 1/4” pieces (3-5 stalks depending on size)
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- juice from half a lemon
- pinch of salt
for the vanilla cake:
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- Over medium high heat, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the sliced rhubarb to the melted butter and cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the sugar and cook the rhubarb and sugar mixture until the sugar dissolves into a liquid syrup. Stir in the vanilla, lemon juice and salt and cook for an additional five minutes.
- Remove a 1/4 cup of just the rhubarb sugar liquid and set aside.
- Pour the remaining syrup and rhubarb mixture into a buttered round 9” cake pan and spread the rhubarb mixture so it covers the entire bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the fridge while you mix up the cake.
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
- In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is a smooth pale yellow.
- Add the egg to the mixture while mixing. When it is fully incorporated, add the egg yolk while mixing. When the yolk is fully incorporated, add the vanilla extract.
- Mix half the flour mixture into the butter and sugar. When the flour is fully mixed in, add the buttermilk, and then the other half of the flour mixture. Beat until smooth. The batter will be thick.
- . Remove the pan with the rhubarb mixture from the fridge. Using a spatula, carefully distribute the cake batter throughout the pan. (Don’t just pour it into the center of the pan and try to spread it out because the rhubarb mixture will be displaced and your cake will be patchy when you turn it over) Instead carefully distribute the batter throughout the pan, and use a spatula to spread the batter evenly.
- Bake the cake at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Once the cake is done, immediately put a plate on top of the pan and flip the cake over. Pour the 1/4 cup reserved rhubarb syrup over the top of the cake.
- Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Most of my weekday breakfasts are bowls like this pomegranate yogurt bowl or this blueberry cheddar cereal bowl or even this chocolate coconut chia pudding. Bowls are quick, easy to pack, easy to make in advance and assemble at work. I rarely have the time or energy to cook before I’ve had my coffee in the morning, and I usually get up, work out, grab my belongings, and have biked halfway to work before I’ve really shaken off the sleep. So how’d a breakfast that requires me to actually turn on the stove end up with a prominent place in … Continue reading
Monday breakfasts are hard. Every Sunday night, I’m hit with a solid case of Monday-is-imminent blues, and this severe case of nearly-Monday-itis makes it unlikely that I’m going to prep tomorrow’s breakfast that night. Then Monday morning arrives, and if I can make coffee and stand in front of the fridge blinking my tired eyes, that’s a success. Luckily this breakfast practically assembles itself, with some earlier in the weekend prep work. This winter we’ve been picking up pomegranates at the farmers’ market or at the grocery store, depending on how much time there is in the week. J takes … Continue reading
I made you cinnamon rolls! Er… Hi. Remember me? It’s kind of been a year. 13 months if we’re being exact. But that’s why I brought cinnamon rolls! To help jog your memory. 2013 was a whirlwind of work, life, wedding planning, seven cross country trips, marrying my best friend, an incredibly honeymoon to Fiji, and a Sunday that was 41 hours long. Through it all, I cooked and baked, but I didn’t share any of it with you. I missed this space though, and I’m happy to reclaim it. So, cinnamon rolls. I know it’s January, but if you’re … Continue reading
It has taken me nearly a week to get a handle on my race last Sunday at the California International Marathon. All the runners who lined up at the start knew what they were getting into. I’m sure everyone else had spent the week before obsessively checking the weather too, thinking that there was still time for the chance of rain to become something less than 100%. By 6AM on Sunday, standing in the dark at the start with thousands of other equally crazy runners, I knew we’d be running in the rain. I knew it was likely parts of … Continue reading
Fall at the farmers’ market has a whole different feeling, and while I miss the fresh berries terribly, I do love how forgiving fall produce can be. I lugged home a heavy bag today, filled to the brim with butternut and delicata squashes, onions, garlic, a bottle of apple cider and several pomegranates. One of my pomegranates escaped and went rolling down the sidewalk in front of me, but I just scooped it up and it was really no worse for wear. Fall produce can be just as pretty as it’s spring and summer brethren (I love the colors of … Continue reading
You probably don’t need another chocolate chip cookie recipe. I grew up in a house where my mom always kept the cookie jar full. Chocolate chip cookies were a staple, as were her oatmeal scotchies. I needed a new chocolate chip cookie recipe though, because my mom’s recipes never taste quite right when I make them. My mom’s rolls are a perfect example of this unfortunate phenomenon. She swears her rolls never taste the same as her mother’s even though they use the same recipe. I’ve only attempted to make my mom’s rolls once in my own kitchen, and they … Continue reading
Once I’d discovered how easy spring rolls were to prepare, vegetable dumplings jumped to the top of my list. These are a much more significant time investment than the spring rolls, but they freeze beautifully. I made a batch of about 60 while watching an episode of Bones on my laptop (so 45 minutes, give or take). My first try with dumplings, I followed this recipe for golden potstickers from 101 Cookbooks. I always trust Heidi to carry me safely through any new recipe or technique with carefully crafted instructions. I bought gyoza wrappers at Berkeley Bowl (same aisle as … Continue reading
I’d almost forgotten about this race. I signed up for the lottery on a whim and was shocked when I got the email that said I’d gotten into the race. I’m training for CIM (the California International Marathon) in December, so my goal for this race was to use it as a training run. I wanted to run 10:00 minute/mile (my marathon goal pace) for the whole race and end up at the finish line feeling like running another 13.1 miles was possible. I’d heard some horror stories about this race being incredibly crowded, and the expo did nothing to … Continue reading