Rhubarb-Vanilla Bean Upside Down Rye Cake

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Cake

It’s pretty wild to think of the evolution of recipes and how they’re shared now compared to just decades ago. I have a select few of my Nana’s recipes that she passed down, scribbled barely legibly on a branded notepad and held together with a sewing pin. The ink is fading by the day and I try to remind myself often that I need to have them copied or re-write them, lest they be gone forever. These recipes, created with family and community in mind, painstakingly recorded and tested/tweaked by the palettes of visiting guests, family and hungry children, were how food knowledge was passed along before the internet age took hold.

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down CakeRhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Cake

My generation, on the other hand, rarely looks further than internet. Between the umpteen trillion food bloggers (hi!), online cooking mags, cooking websites based on recipes from print magazines, video recipes and online cooking forums… the need for tangible books has passed. But is that really a good thing? Cookbooks are tested. Laboriously. And then tested again. And then revised. And re-tested. And revised. Buying a cookbook generally ensures no meals will be ruined in the quest for deliciousness. Online recipes, on the other hand, aren’t always tested and perfected before being shared with the world. Which isn’t to say they can’t be trusted, they may just take a bit more time to get the result you were looking for in some cases. Finding a source for online recipes that you trust is crucial in your hunt for meals worthy of your precious time and money. Failing that, turn to your favourite cookbooks and family-tested recipes handed down. They may not be perfect but each one tells a story of a time and place in your family’s past.

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Cake

This Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Rye Cake is based on an old written recipe I have for a more traditional pineapple upside down cake with some updating of ingredients and techniques. The topping is tangy and sweet which pairs incredibly well with the hearty, slightly bitter rye flour base.

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Cake

Rhubarb-Vanilla Bean Upside Down Rye Cake
makes one 9″ cake

I used Stirling Creamery Churn84 European Style butter in this recipe as I wanted a rich, creamy butter for the topping and a smooth and luxurious fat for the cake. I’ve used salted and unsalted but feel free to use one or the other and adjust salt in the recipe slightly.

In the recipe I call for chopping the rhubarb into smaller chunks. This is slightly easier to work with. If you prefer the long strips like I have in the photos, cut your stalks in half lengthwise and into various sized strips no longer than 9″. Caramelized them as per recipe and then arrange in springform pan in strips.

1lb rhubarb, trimmed and cut into various sized strips (no larger than 8-9″)
1/4 cup Stirling Creamery Salted Butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 vanilla bean

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dark rye flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup unsalted Stirling CHURN 84 European Style Butter butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 tsp PURE vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

Line the sides of a 9″ springform or cake pan (with sides at least 3″ high) with parchment. Butter  and flour the sides of the parchment.

Preheat oven to 375.

In a heavy skillet, add the butter, sugars and salt over medium heat. Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds out using the back of your knife, running it along the length of the inside of the bean. Scrape into butter/sugar mixture. Swirl pan a few times so it’s all combined. Add your rhubarb slices to the pan in one layer and turn heat up to med-high. Cook until rhubarb is tender but not falling apart, 6-8 minutes. Arrange rhubarb pieces/strips on the bottom of your prepared cake pan and pour remaining butter  mixture in the skillet over.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder/soda, salt and cardamom.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with your hand mixer/whisk, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time mixing completely into the batter. Add the vanilla and milk and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing well in between each addition. Give the batter one last 10 second whisk/mix to ensure everything is well combined. Pour over your arranged rhubarb and carefully spread out over the mixture.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until edges of cake are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (it’s ok if you see some of the gooey rhubarb topping, that will set once it cools a little). Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes in the pan.

Remove the cake by pulling the parchment out of the pan. Peel the sides of the parchment down and put a plate, serving side down, over the whole cake. Holding the plate firmly, flip them both together so the rhubarb becomes the top of the cake once it’s on your serving platter. Carefully remove the pan from the cake.

Serve with clotted cream or ice cream. This cake is best eaten the day it’s made.

Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Upside Down Cake

AND! Gaylea Food Cooperative is giving away a free IPad for all your online recipe reading, admiring and creating! See below to enter. Good luck!

Gay Lea iPad Mini 2 Giveaway – April 2017






4 Responses

  1. Sounds delish! What a great springtime recipe to celebrate the season!

  2. Fatimah says:

    what a beauty and so simple too i cannot wait until rhubarb pops up in the market

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