Springtime Rhubarb and Rose Cake
Well, today was a nasty day in Toronto. We woke up to miserable rain/sleet pounding on our windows. It was miserably cold, damp and gloomy. And this is March 24th. I know, we have a good week until March departs, and there is still time for it to “leave like a lamb”. So I expect some massive changes in the coming days. Well, a girl can dream, can’t she? And apparently we got off easy, to the north of us the ice storm made much more of an impact- trees and phone lines bowed under the heavy load of icy that they bore.
It looked pretty, but was actually quite destructive. My heart always breaks just a little when I see the poor trees aching under the weight and suffering the loss of limbs therefrom. And many in Southwestern Ontario lost power. So I really shouldn’t complain, should I?
I started the day in a ‘contrary’ frame of mind, and this affected my breakfast choices. While I like to eat rather more healthy during the week to allow for breakdowns of self-control on the weekends, I rebelliously decided that if the weather was going to be miserable, then I was going to misbehave as well. So I started the day off with a great stack of pannetore french toast, and the most luscious double smoked bacon. And all of the above was drowned in especially yummy maple syrup. My taste buds were happy, my belly was grinning (if bellies can grin) and… the weather still hadn’t changed. So this joy achieved, was short lived. I’m being a tad dramatic, am I not? I really was happy throughout the whole day (I’m one of those ‘perky’ ones, who’s rarely in a bad mood, and it does take a lot to truly drag me down). But you know what I mean, right? When the sky is so gloomy, the winds are howling, but all you want to do is pull out your spring clothes? So the colour of the sky does have a bit of an affect on the day. And this day the sky decided it would be one of those ‘blanket, cup of tea, and old movie’ kind of days.
In the end, I behaved, and not only did I get some necessary things done, including dusting, vacuuming, making the bed (don’t laugh- when you have two cats who glare at you when you try to move them to get to the covers so that the bed can be made, you may end up putting off making it for half the day), paperwork etc., I realized that I actually had some time to bake.
I was in the mood to bake something happy. You are saying, ‘shouldn’t you always be in the mood to bake something happy?’ Well, baking bread to me is comforting, earthy, distracting. Making pasta is a labour of love, therapeutic, mindful. But baking cupcakes, brownies, or anything lemony, is… happy! So I pulled out some recipes I hadn’t made in a while. I baked up a ‘Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread’ from the King Arthur Flour website. It is so moist, and oh so chocolatey. Jim will be happy. Anything he can put ice cream on is a winner. And of course, it is chocolate.
But I also wanted to bake up something that sang out Spring. Even if the weatherman didn’t check his calendar, I wanted to look at my creation and feel light and happy-go-lucky, in a food kind of way. I wanted the cake to say, ‘the linen and seersucker dresses are missing you’! So out came this beautiful recipe from CannelleVanille. Aran Goyoaga has a beautiful food, photography and travel blog. Her work is both ethereal and down to earth. This cake is one that I love because of her use of fresh rhubarb. I adore rhubarb season, and am always looking for fresh ways to use it. The first time I saw the photographs of her creation, the cake looked like it was sprinkled with confetti. And then I realized it was pieces of fresh rhubarb and rose petals peaking through the batter. Just too pretty. And when I realized that she uses almond and millet flours instead of the typical wheat flour, I knew I would love this cake. Egg whites, not too much sugar, browned butter and these flours, come together to create a frothy batter/cake that is just sweet enough but still allows the tartness of the rhubarb to shine through. And the petals and rosewater added to the batter add a whole new level of decadence. Whenever I bake this cake, I look forward to pulling it out of the oven- the rosewater makes the whole kitchen smell dreamy! I take a liberty by adding rhubarb bitters to my chopped rhubarb before adding it to the cake. Just adds a little something something!
The only disclaimer I will give with this cake, is that it can be a delicate cake for removing out of the mold. Butter well. Aran suggests using muffin tins as an alternative. I could totally see using small tart tins or the mini muffin tins and making sweet little confections out of this recipe. Perfect for a garden tea party! See, I’m already in a Spring frame of mind. It worked.
- 10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, plus more for mold
- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 cup (100 g) natural cane sugar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons rose extract (depending on your taste)
- 1 cup (100 g) almond flour
- 1/4 cup (35 g) millet flour (you could also use oat or brown rice)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 ounces (170 g) rhubarb, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (for larger pieces of rhubarb I slice lengthwise first, so that my slices will be 1/2" cubes.
- 6 dashes or so of rhubarb bitters (optional)
- 1 tablespoon dried rose petals (I used fresh edible floral petals, which can be purchased at specialty stores) If you are going to use rose petals from the garden, ensure that they haven't been sprayed in any way.
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
- Place chopped rhubarb is a small bowl. Add the bitters, toss, and cover with plastic wrap and let sit till ready to add to the cake.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat until it starts to turn brown and aromatic. Remove from heat and let it cool at room temperature.
- Whisk together the egg whites, sugar and rose extract in a bowl. Add the almond flour, millet flour and salt and whisk to combine. Add the cooled butter and whisk until it is well mixed.
- Brush a 9" bundt pan (or any mold you will use) with a bit of melted butter. Pour the batter in the mold and top with sliced rhubarb and rose petals.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning into a plate. You can sprinkle with some fresh rose petals as well.
- The cake can be stored in the refrigerator tightly wrapped for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
- Aran suggests using 9-inch fluted bundt cake or an 8-inch cake or 12 individual muffins for this recipe. The batter is a little delicate (the egg whites and almond flour give it an almost macaron texture) so ensure that you butter or grease your choice of container well.