Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Rhubarb Cake

May 2009 350

It’s Memorial Day! Like many towns across the U.S., Princeton, N.J. holds a parade to commemorate the brave men and women who gave their lives to defend our country.  The parade was held on Saturday and some of our friends stopped by for a quick cup of coffee and cake before we walked downtown to watch the parade.

I wanted to make something with rhubarb before the short season slips away, but not the usual strawberry/rhubarb crisp or pie that I normally make for dessert. A crumb-type cake seemed more apropos for breakfast fare, and I found a delightful recipe for one on Let Her Bake Cake that included cornmeal among the ingredients. The recipe calls for coarse cornmeal, which I thought worked great. But if you’d prefer a crumb without the crunch from the grittier meal, use a finer textured one.

I also peeled the rhubarb, something I’ve always done when making pies or other desserts. But I think next time, I’ll leave it as is, since peeling it also removed most of the pretty red color. It doesn’t matter so much when you’re combining rhubarb with another red fruit like strawberries. But all on its own, its pale green interior isn’t that attractive without the red outer layer, even though it tastes terrific. The cake tastes great the next day too, when I took the above picture of the last remaining piece. But after it sits covered in plastic wrap, the coating on top starts to lose its crunch.

Here’s the recipe that Hilary from Let Her Bake Cake (A London blogger) got from Nigel Slater, whose recipe appeared in the U.K’s Observer Magazine:

Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake
1 pound rhubarb
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp water
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp coarse cornmeal
1 1/3 cups all purpose or plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
grated zest of a small orange
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp butter, diced
1 large egg
2-4 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar

Preheat the oven to  350F. Grease a 8in cake pan, preferably springform. If you don't have one, use a regular cake pan but grease very well, line the bottom with a circle or parchment paper, and grease again.
Trim the rhubarb and chop into pieces a couple of inches long. Put in a baking dish with the sugar and water and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft but still retains its shape. Drain the fruit and set aside you can reserve the juice to serve with the cake if you wish.
Put the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the grated zest and the butter. If using your hands, rub the butter in as if making pastry - until the mixture resembles large crumbs. If using a food processor you just need to blitz for a few seconds, and if using a stand mixer, mix on low to medium speed for about 30 seconds.
Break the egg into a small bowl and mix with the milk. Now add slowly to the crumble mix, stopping as soon as everything has come together to form a soft, sticky dough. You may not need all the liquid, or you may need a little more milk to get the right consistency.
Press about two thirds of the crumble mixture into the bottom of the cake pan, pushing a little bit up the sides of the pan. Place the rhubarb on top, being careful to leave a small rim around the edges uncovered. Crumble the rest of the mixture over the fruit in fat lumps, using your fingers - don't worry if the fruit isn't all covered. Scatter over the brown sugar.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool the cake a little before removing from the pan.

If you’re still with me, here are a few scenes from Princeton’s Memorial Day Parade:

May 2009 310 Gotta have some people in military uniform

May 2009 315

And a high school marching band

May 2009 329

And fire trucks

May 2009 319

And kids waving flags

May 2009 321

And a Korean dance troupe (doesn’t everybody?)

May 2009 324

And a choo choo train

May 2009 334

And a calliope (complete with tiger) piping out “Yankee Doodle Dandy”

May 2009 335

And I just couldn’t resist another cute kid toting a flag




  1. gotta love a parade! Your Rhubarb Cake looks delicious Linda. Happy Memorial Day!

  2. this is a special cake to me too, thanks for sharing.

  3. Happy Memorial Day! Rhubarb cake sounds great. Wish I could have a piece now. The crunch of cornmeal sounds perfect too.

  4. sounds good looks good - must be good.

  5. What a fun fun fun photos to share Linda. Thank you so much!

  6. Hi Linda, I'm so pleased you made this and enjoyed it! My mum made it recently too but she said it turned out slightly too gummy, so I'm glad someone had success. I agree it's best the day it's made, since the topping does start to get soft after awhile.

    Happy Memorial Day to you!

  7. Beautiful food styling Ciao Chow.
    and that cake is calling my name, now that I am in love with rhubarb.
    Enjoy this beautiful day!

  8. Oh wow, this cake sounds and looks delicious. You have to love a great parade.

  9. Your cake looks so inviting I just want to pour a nice cup of coffee and sit down for a slice. Great photo's!

  10. The rhubarb cake sounds really good! Very special. Thanks for sharing the parade pictures!

  11. Looks like you had a wonderful day out =)

    Rhubarb cake sounds just delicous!

  12. What a great way to get out of my rhubarb-strawberry crisp hole. mean, I love it - but I've done it! (For you know - 20 years). Love the smaller town parades and the kids. It is all so sweet - in a world that needsmroe sweetness.

  13. Thanks for the interesting post! That cake looks delicious!



  14. It looks like Princeton celebrates Memorial Day in a wonderful way, Linda.

    Love your rhubarb cake --- always a hit!

    Do you like Windows Live Writer? I did not have success with it the first few times I tried it.

  15. Rhubarb and cornmeal? Interesting...looks very tasty. Love the parade pictures...thanks for sharing it.

  16. Inspirational recipe! I've never really known what to do with rhubarb. Thanks for sharing the pics of bucolic small town life. :)

  17. That rhubarb cake looks really good! I like using tart rhubarb in sweet things like this as they balance out nicely.