Musical pairing – Lucky by Jason Mraz
As a child, I remember having rhubarb plants in my backyard and my mother making stewed rhubarb – I L-O-V-E-D it; but I also remember mother saying that the leaves were toxic and gave me direct orders that I wasn’t to eat them . . . ‘hmmm’ . . . my defiant 8-year-old mind asked, ‘Is that really true or is she just saying that so I won’t eat it all raw? Do I tempt fate, try it and see what happens? What would happen if I only ate a teeny-weeny little bite – would I die and more importantly, would they ever find my body?’ (I was a bit dramatic). In the end, I decided to obey – a rarity for those of you who know me well . . . let’s just say that I have never been one to conform . . .
I don’t remember having rhubarb pies, tarts or cakes – only small bowls filled with light pink, sweet-tangy, soft, glistening strands of stewed rhubarb that I ate every summer of my childhood. We moved to Arizona when I was 13 and I didn’t grow my own rhubarb until this year.
Before moving to Indiana and marrying The Professor, I lived in Olympia, Washington and was lucky enough to be surrounded by a great group of friends. We’d get together on a regular basis to play cards, craft, laugh, shop and play jokes on one another – uhm, like the time they taped a ‘Wish Me A Happy Birthday’ sign on my back and then took me shopping all day – couldn’t figure out why on earth complete strangers kept saying, ‘Happy Birthday!!’ And you all know who you are: Christine, Judi, Carol, Connie and Julie . . . I still get a good chuckle every time I remember that day.
Summertime get-togethers included this rhubarb cake from Christine’s mother-in-law, Lou; one bite and I was transported back to my little house on Ankeny street with those rhubarb plants. A moist, not-to-sweet cake filled with chunks of rhubarb, chopped nuts and topped with cinnamon-sugar – it’s simple, uncomplicated and absolutely perfect, even for breakfast! I had forgotten all about the recipe until last year when Melissa (Christine’s now grown daughter) mentioned the cake on Facebook – I shot her a quick note, ‘Can I please, please, please have the recipe?’ Within an hour, the cake was made and cooling on a rack.
The Professor took his first bite and began dancing around the kitchen singing, ‘I’m too sexy for my cake, too sexy for my cake . . .’ I’m going to take that as a sign – either he’s crazy or he likes it – probably a bit of both. Now that we have our own rhubarb growing in our garden, he looks forward to this time of year with great anticipation. And yes, The Professor danced for me again this year . . . love this man, my best friend – he makes me laugh!
Melissa has given me permission to post the recipe on Smith Bites, but she also has her own mommy blog – stop over and tell her you like Lou’s Rhubarb Cake!
LOU’S RHUBARB CAKE
Slightly adapted from Lou via Melissa Rich Moore
Zest of 1 lemon
3 cups sugar
1 cube butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 Cup Sour Cream (OR Greek-style yogurt)
4 Cups flour
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
4 Cups, 1/2 inch chunks of rhubarb
1 Cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts but pecans would be wonderful too)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Raw sugar (Turbinado)
1 teaspoon regular sugar
SMITH BITES NOTE: Using a mix of sugars for the cinnamon topping creates a slightly crunchy top and gives the cake added texture; cinnamon with regular sugar works fine too as was listed in the original recipe! Feel free to adjust the measurements – more or less cinnamon and/or sugar to your taste.
Add lemon zest to sugar and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon is strong (don’t miss this step – it really makes a difference!). Add butter and cream; add eggs, vanilla and sour cream (or yogurt) – mix well.
Sift together flour, Baking Powder and salt. Gradually add to creamed butter/sugar mixture, stirring after each addition. Add rhubarb, mix well (mixture will be stiff, but keep stirring adding a couple of teaspoons of water if needed. Add 1 cup chopped nuts.
Spread batter in greased 9×13 pan. Mix cinnamon and both sugars in small bowl; sprinkle over cake and bake at 350. Start testing at 40 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick in center comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream or plain – The Professor says it’s particularly good for breakfast!
SMITH BITES NOTE: Since there are only two of us, I made a half recipe and baked in an 8×8 pan!
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