The idea of a “breakfast cake” has been sounding most ideal to me these days as my cravings lean heavily to the sweeter side of things. When I spotted rhubarb in the market, I could almost taste the sweet and tangy flavours of a rhubarb breakfast cake. But what else? Whole wheat flour didn’t seem exciting enough, and all-purpose didn’t feel hearty enough for what I’d been imagining. I consulted my baking cupboard and locked eyes on a bag of earthy rye flour. Bingo!
I did a little research and found a recipe for a “Rye Rhubarb Anytime Cake” from the masters over at Food52. It seemed like exactly what I wanted so off I went, with a few tweaks here and there, on my quest for the perfect breakfast cake. And it didn’t disappoint. Just barely sweet with a puckering tang from the compote, an earthiness from the rye flour and maple syrup, and just the right amount of spice from some added cinnamon and cardamom, my favourite sidekicks to anything with rhubarb.
The compote recipe makes enough to use half in the cake, and half as a garnish for an extra bit of decadence on top of the cake with a creamy Greek yogurt. If you prefer the cake without it, swirl it into your morning oats, smoothie or yogurt instead.
Maple Rhubarb & Rye Skillet Cake
adapted from Food52
Ok, so this cake has probably a bit more butter and sugar that one should indulge in for breakfast, I admit it. But I’ve found that a thin slice along with my morning smoothie or yogurt is just what I need to get over that craving for something sweet. AND it keeps me away from the sugary morning buns or chocolate-hazelnut croissants at my coffee shop stop on the way to work.
4 large stalks of rhubarb, diced
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup 100% orange juice or equivalent of fresh squeezed juice
Zest of 1 orange
For the cake
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup Coconut Milk*
Greek Yogurt (I use unsweetened, you can use whatever you like best)
For the compote: Add the chopped rhubarb, maple syrup, orange juice and zest to a 9″ cast iron skillet over medium heat. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. It will cook down slowly and you want most of the liquids to reduce. Cook for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a saucy/jammy compote remains. Remove the compote from the skillet and set aside while you put the cake batter together. Clean skillet and give it a quick rub down with some oil.
For the cake: In a large bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder + soda, spices and salt until combined. In a smaller bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment), cream the butter and sugars together. Whisk in one egg at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between. Add the vanilla and milk and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and use a wooden spoon to vigorously beat together for at least 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl to make sure all the dry ingredients are picked up. The batter should be nice and smooth.
Preheat oven to 350. Scrape the cake batter into the lightly oiled skillet. Swirl half the compote into the cake batter – no need to be too fussy as clumps of compote are delicious! Pop the skillet into your preheated oven and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, slice and serve with a dollop of yogurt and some of the remaining compote.
*Not the canned variety, rather the carton of milk you’d use for coffee/cereal. Feel free to swap for your favourite unsweetened non-dairy milk or cows milk, whatever you like.