I make a lot of Upside Down Cakes – they are really versatile and can be used as puddings or are great mid-morning with a cup of coffee or with afternoon tea! I usually use them a lot as puddings as they are very quick and easy to do and are fantastic, served with cream or ice-cream, at the end of a meal. Rhubarb Upside Down Cake tends to go down well with those who have past form as rhubarb-haters (such as my eldest son) as the topping is effectively a jam and so is less astringent than in some other dishes and therefore more palatable.
In the past, I have been a bit ambivalent about rhubarb. On the one hand, I liked its sharp/sweet flavour but I also had a lot of unfortunate memories from my school days of pink mush shrouded in lumpy custard… The turning point in my relationship with rhubarb was when we moved into our current house a few years ago and found a huge rhubarb plant in the middle of one of the flower beds. Over several years, I did my best to kill it and, when this failed, to move it, as I wanted to plant pretty flowers! It resisted all my attempts at destruction and, in the end, in a spirit of defeat, I decided to start trying to use it and looked for tasty recipes. I am now quite pleased that I failed to get rid of it, although it still looks a bit odd in the middle of the flower bed, and have adapted a lot of my favourite recipes, including the one for Upside Down Cake, to include rhubarb.
You will need a cast iron tarte-tatin dish or a cast iron frying pan which can be used on the hob and also can be put in the oven
Rhubarb Upside Down Cake can be served as a pudding with cream or ice cream or as a cake with morning coffee or afternoon tea (or anytime you fancy, frankly!)
For the rhubarb topping:
300 g rhubarb
180 g caster sugar
50 g butter
For the cake:
125 g butter
125 g caster sugar
125 g self-raising flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/gas mark 4.
Wash the rhubarb stalks thoroughly. Cut into small pieces of around 1 cm.
Put the rhubarb pieces, 180 g caster sugar and 50 g butter into your tarte-tatin dish or frying pan and put on a low heat for around 15 minutes. The rhubarb will soften and, initially release a lot of moisture, but by the end of the time the mixture should be syrupy and jam-like in consistency. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
Make the cake batter by creaming together the 125 g butter with the 125 g sugar. Add the eggs gradually to ensure the mixture does not curdle. Then add the 125 g self-raising flour followed by the 1 tablespoon of milk.
Spoon the cake batter on top of the syrupy mixture in your tarte-tatin dish or frying pan.
Put the dish into the oven for around 30 minutes. At the end of this time, the cake should be light brown and springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for around 5 minutes. Then, put a plate over the pan, turn it upside down and remove the pan so that the cake is on the plate rhubarb-side upwards. Don’t leave it any longer than this or it will be hard to turn it out as the jammy mixture will solidify as it cools and glue the cake to the pan!
You can either serve immediately when it is warm or leave to cool to room temperature.
Keywords: rhubarb cake
See my other recipes for using Rhubarb to make flavoured Gin and Cordial
This is a companion to the recipe for Rhubarb Gin and offers an alternative for those who do not like gin or who do not drink alcohol. Children love it too although sometimes more when they are not told that it has rhubarb in it! There are many recipes for Rhubarb Cordial but this is the very simplest and requires minimal skill or time to make although you do need to leave it overnight before you can enjoy it. It is very versatile and can be used to make non-alcoholic drinks or used as a flavouring in alcoholic cocktails. It can also be used as a flavouring in cooking when making cakes and puddings. As with the Rhubarb Gin, you can add additional flavours to your taste – some are suggested in the recipe but feel free to improvise!
Sweet and zesty Rhubarb Cordial is an easy way of capturing the flavour of rhubarb for use in drinks and food recipes.
1 kg rhubarb stalks
600 g caster sugar
1 litre of water
Juice of 1 lemon
If you wish to try different flavours you could add one of the following additions: 1 vanilla pod or other spices (cardamon and star anise go well with rhubarb) or 5 slices of fresh root ginger
Wash the rhubarb stalks thoroughly. Cut into 3 cm pieces.
Put the rhubarb pieces, sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Then allow to simmer for 10 minutes until the rhubarb is very soft.
Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
Strain the mushy juices through a muslin-lined funnel into a bowl or jug. It takes a while for the juice to filter through and the process can be done overnight in your fridge.
The juice that has filtered through the funnel is your Rhubarb Cordial and is ready to use.
The Rhubarb Cordial will keep in a sterilised bottle in your fridge for around a month. Alternatively, you can freeze it – best to do this in ice-cube trays – and it will keep for up to six months.
To sterilise your bottle, you can wash in warm soapy water, rinse thoroughly and then dry off for around 15 minutes in an oven set to 140C/120C fan/gas 1.
Rhubarb Cordial is very versatile and can be combined with soda or tonic to make a non-alcoholic drink or added to a glass of prosecco or added to gin or vodka as a flavouring for cocktails. It can also be poured over vanilla ice-cream to make a quick pudding and used as a culinary ingredient to add flavour.
Traditionally used to make rhubarb crumbles or rhubarb fools, its sweet and sour taste makes a wonderful flavouring for gin. Love it or hate it, rhubarb is now in season. Cheap to buy in the shops and probably over-abundant if you have a rhubarb crown in your in your garden.
In the past few years, there has been an increase in the popularity of flavoured gins, including rhubarb, produced by niche producers and selling for a premium in supermarkets. I think home-made and traditional is best in terms of both flavour and price, so why not try making your own? It is simple to make and, if you do it yourself, and you can play with flavour combinations to produce fantastic variations such as rhubarb and vanilla gin, rhubarb and ginger gin or rhubarb and orange gin. You may think about other combinations – it is all about producing something that suits your taste!
(If you don’t drink alcohol – or are looking for a drink to suit teetotallers or children – check out my recipe for Rhubarb Cordial)
Adding the flavour of fresh rhubarb to gin creates a fantastic drink that is good either on its own or as a base for cocktails.
Ingredients (basic recipe):
1 kg rhubarb stalks
400 g caster sugar
800 ml good quality gin
If you wish to try different flavours you could add one of the following additions: 1 vanilla pod or 5 slices of fresh root ginger or 5 pieces of thin orange peel
Wash the rhubarb stalks thoroughly. Cut into 3 cm pieces.
Mix the rhubarb pieces thoroughly with the sugar in a large bowl.
Spoon the rhubarb and sugar into a sterilised jar. Leave for 24 hours to allow the rhubarb to macerate in the sugar and release its juices.
At this stage, you can add additional flavour ingredients if you wish. Simply add a vanilla pod, fresh root ginger slices or thin orange peel (taken from an orange using a potato peeler avoiding the pith) to the jar.
Add the gin to the jar of rhubarb and sugar. Shake thoroughly to ensure it is mixed.
Leave in a cool, dry, dark place for four weeks.
At the end of that time, the gin is ready to drink! You can strain the gin into sterilised bottles through a muslin cloth held in a funnel and it will keep for approximately six months. Alternatively, you can leave the rhubarb pieces in the gin but, if you do this, you must drink it quickly as it will turn bitter after a couple of months.
Although it only takes 20 minutes preparation time, you will need to allow 24 hours for the rhubarb to macerate in the sugar and, once you have added the gin, it will take a further four weeks to allow the flavour to develop.
Rhubarb Gin can be drunk on its own, combined with soda or tonic or used as a based for Rhubarb Gin Cocktails. It is also good poured over vanilla ice-cream to make a quick pudding.