This recipe was given to our mom, mtgoblin, by a friend of the family years ago to use up an over-abundance of rhubarb growing in the backyard. There's only so much chutney and crumble one can take, after all. Calistakaufman, being the rhubarb-loving fiend that she is, adopted the recipe as her own, and much to everyone's delight, made batches upon batches of rhubarb cake throughout the summer growing season.
Ten years ago, when our family moved to another neighborhood, a chunk of the rhubarb plant moved with us to our new location, and thus, the summer tradition of baking up luscious rhubarb cakes continued. Now, both calista and I have homes of our own, and continue to bake rhubarb cake, the difference being that calista is now teaching Tiny Hands, and I am forever experimenting with variations on the recipe.
Here we share this beloved family recipe with you and hope that you might share it with your family, too.
Step 1: What You'll Need:
- 1/2 c. butter (originally, we always used margarine, which works well, but butter makes everything taste better)
- 1 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1 c. buttermilk or sour milk (see step 2 for details)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 c. flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 c. chopped rhubarb
- 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
As for baking pans, this recipe is classically baked in two 8-inch round baking pans, but I've been successful with both muffin and mini muffin tins. The batter makes either 24 muffins or 48 mini-muffins.
Step 2: Prepare to Start
First prepare your rhubarb. Using a knife, remove the leaves. Wash the stems to remove any dirt, then place the stems on a cutting board and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. If you are making muffins, you'll want to chop the rhubarb pieces even smaller.
Next, if you are not using buttermilk (which I never do -- s), you'll want to mix up your sour milk. To make 1 cup of sour milk, mix together 1 c. milk and 1 tbsp. white vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, as this will allow the milk to thicken. Sour milk is a great way to replace buttermilk in any recipe you make at home, just remember to use the same ratio of regular milk to white vinegar.
Finally, prepare your pans for baking. Using a paper towel, spread some softened butter all over the inside of the baking pans. If using muffin tins, simply line them with paper or silicon muffin liners.
All done? Good. Time to mix up some tasty cake!
Step 3: Mixing the Ingredients
Add the beaten egg and mix well.
Stir in the chopped rhubarb by hand. Doing this with the mixer will result in a soupy mess and over-mashed rhubarb bits. Use a spoon.
In a second, smaller bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda. Still mixing by hand, incorporate the flour mixture and sour milk alternately into the rhubarb mixture.
Once combined, pour the batter into the prepared cake pans.
Step 4: Topping and Baking
In a small bowl, mix together the white sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the cake batter.
Place the cakes in the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes. If you are making muffins, bake them for 20 minutes. If you are making mini muffins, bake them for 15 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them cool 15 minutes, if you can.
Step 5: Eating (and Important Notes)
It tastes even better.
- If you are using metal pans, DO NOT leave your cakes in the pans longer than 15 minutes. Rhubarb is incredibly acidic, and will begin to eat through the metal! Not only will this tarnish your pans, but it will also infuse your cakes with a tangy metallic flavor. Yuck.
- If you are short on brown sugar, white sugar can be substituted in this recipe, but is not recommended. We conducted tests during the creation of this Instructable, and were extremely disappointed with the change in the taste of the cake when white sugar was used. Brown sugar, with its added molasses, compliments the sour of the rhubarb more completely. Please, for the sake of your taste buds, use brown sugar. You will not be disappointed.
- This Instructable was photographed by auntie skyisblu, on location at nana mtgoblin's house, and most of the preparations and baking were done by Tiny Hands and mom calistakaufman. All resulting baked goods were dutifully tested by the men in our lives. This Instructable truly was a family affair!