Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rhubarb Ginger "Downside Up" Oatmeal Cake

Much to my surprise, I discovered that in today's "Good Appetite" column, Melissa Clark writes about rhubarb upside-down cake. There must be rhubarb upside-down cake vibes going around in the universe because I made a similar cake just yesterday. I'd certainly think about making Melissa's cake at some point, but that will have to happen later. First, I want to make yesterday's cake again, if only so I can have a bigger piece of it. I brought it to a work gathering and looked on a little bit sadly as wedge after wedge was eaten by my colleagues, including the ones who proclaimed not to like rhubarb. I was selfless enough to take one piece home for Alex, but I left the rest there, and when I came in this morning, it was all gone. Sigh.

I have Food 52 to blame (or, really, credit) for this one as well. When I did a search for rhubarb, the first recipe that came up was the one for rhubarb curd (shortbread). The second was for rhubarb ginger downside up oatmeal cake. I was intrigued. I clicked. I baked.

I've never made a cake quite like this before. First, I don't think I've ever made an upside down cake. And I've never made one in a cast iron frying pan. I may have made a cake with oatmeal in it at some point, but the details are fuzzy. But, having done this once, I would do it again without hesitation. This is really an excellent cake.

First, you melt some butter in a cast iron (or other ovenproof) frying pan:

Once the butter is melted, you take it off the flame and spread a cup of brown sugar across the bottom:
On top of that goes a layer of rhubarb mixed with grated fresh ginger:

And on top of that goes the cake batter:

The cake batter process was interesting in and of itself. You mix rolled oats with boiling water and butter. You mix the dry ingredients in another bowl. When the oatmeal mixture has cooled, you add an egg, some vanilla and more sugar, and then mix in the dry ingredients.

The cake one way:

And the other:

There is little I would do differently. I might think about replacing the fresh ginger with crystallized ginger (or maybe not). I did replace 1/4 cup of all purpose with whole wheat pastry flour. But there's not much else to change. The slight taste of oatmeal is lovely with the rhubarb, reminiscent of a crumble. The cake was moist and flavorful, with a little zing from the ginger, some tart from the rhubarb, mellowed out by the oatmeal and the sweet cake. It really was just all around delicious. My only regret was that I hadn't brought some vanilla ice cream to eat with it. No, I take that back. My only real regret was that I didn't get a bigger piece. I'm not sure I could give it higher praise.

Rhubarb Ginger Downside-Up Cake
from thirshfeld at Food 52

For the rhubarb::
  • 2 1/4 cups fresh rhubarb, 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
For the oatmeal cake:
  • 1/2 cup thick cut rolled oats
  • 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. In a mixing bowl combine the oats with the boiling water. Add the1/4 cup of butter. Set aside to cool.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Gently melt the butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Remove it from the heat. Spread the brown sugar evenly across the bottom. In a large bowl mix the ginger and rhubarb. Spread the rhubarb evenly across the brown sugar. Set aside.

  3. In the empty rhubarb bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

  4. To the cooled oatmeal add the egg, both sugars, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined.

  5. Spread the cake batter evenly across the top of the rhubarb. Place into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes.

  6. Remove from the oven when done and let cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cake plate. Let cool for 20 minutes before slicing.
8-10 slices


Anjuli said...

This looks absolutely intriguing!!! I want to dash into my kitchen and try and make this....but do I NEED the cast iron frying pan to make it?? I have just normal frying pans not cast iron ones. (used to have one but left it in Africa as it was too heavy to carry back with me)

Well, I think this will definitely be on my 'to do' list :)

Sue Dickman said...

Anjuli, I think you just need a pan that can go in the oven and on the stove both. If you have another kind of oven-proof pan that's not cast iron, I think it would be fine. Actually, I suppose, if you had to, you could melt the butter in the pan in a low oven and then proceed with the recipe and then just put the pan back in the oven when it's ready to bake. Just don't put a non-oven-proof pan in the oven (or a non stovetop pan on the stove), and you'll be fine.

Robin Aronson said...

I want this cake!

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