Every Saturday. Cake orders. Lots. Birthdays. Commitment ceremonies. Weddings. Divorces. So many celebrations, each requiring a slice of divine sweetness.
Today, among the little slips with special orders for special people are Moritz and Martha. Today we celebrate their arrival on planet earth. And I had the great honor of baking them cakes.
I also got to play. Someone's recipe was giving them a hard time and I'm here to see about getting it right.
Ann sent the following quandary:
"Dear Mistress Master Baker Gesine! We need your help! My friend Denise gave me this fabulous rhubarb cake recipe and we were wondering how to update it a bit. For instance, can we substitute butter or olive oil for the Crisco without ruining it? Also, it falls apart easily and doesn't rise as much as we'd like. Another egg? We need your guidance as it is really delicious but not quite right. Thanks!"
So here's Ann's recipe as she's been making it:
Mix and let stand: 2 cups diced rhubarb and 1/2 cup sugar.
Beat well: 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup Crisco, 1 egg
Add: 1 cup buttermilk
Add: 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add rhubarb sugar mixture. Pour into greased and floured 13-by-9 inch pan.
Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes. Sprinkle top with a little
cinnamon and sugar before baking.
First thing. Yes. PLEASE use butter instead of Crisco. Let's not even talk about this again.
And when you're using butter, cream it baby. Beat it with the sugar until it's light and fluffy. Minutes of your life for a cake that comes out well. And only then may you add your egg. Just one egg. That's all this needs.
But before I get ahead of myself, here's what I used and how I used it:
2 cups rhubarb diced. Set aside. (I didn't mascerate with extra sugar. They're sour as hell but there's something so lovely when you encounter a little tart nub of rhubarb nestled in this sweet moist vanilla cake that's lovely.)
Cream: 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter until LIGHT AND FLUFFY. Like a white kitty, like a jar of fluff. Light and fluffy. Repeat after me, light and fluffy.
Now add 1 room temperature egg. And mix until it's completely incorporated.
Add 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix.
On slow, add 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Alternate the flour with 1 cup buttermilk. Non-fat's what I used. Non-fat worked perfectly for me.
Fold the diced rhubarb into the batter. Transfer batter to a cake pan sprayed with non-stick spray and the bottom lined with a piece of parchment (I used a 10 " pan). Bake at 350 for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Check the cake by gently touching the surface. It should give slightly and come back, leaving no indentation.
It's moist and so tasty. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar and you're set.