I guess you could call me a fruit purist.
I’m not really interested in your bumbleberry mixes, your apple-cherry pies or any strawberry-rhubarb co-mingling.
I like my rhubarb straight up, please, with a little crisp topping, a flaky crust or simply folded in with whipped cream. Or, in this case, in the form of a pudding cake.
Rhubarb, to me, is the quintessential summer dessert. The ruby-ish stalks with slight green tint always made at least one appearance a summer when I was growing up. Usually it was in the form of Rhubarb Fool, a stewed fruit and whipped cream dessert that always tasted like more work went into it than really had.
So, I was excited to see the slim stalks make their first appearance at the farmers’ market.
The decision was not whether or not to buy them. It was: how do I narrow down the recipes I want to try? Rhubarb custard tart. Rhubarb scones. Rhubarb crumb cake. My recipe folder is brimming with possibilities. But I had recently come across a recipe for Rhubarb Pudding Cakes baked in ramekins. And, if nothing else, I am a sucker for individual desserts.
This recipe comes together quickly and easily. A quick chop of the rhubarb, a little simmer on the stove, some stirring of wet and dry ingredients. I didn’t even pull out a mixer. And while you do have to turn on the oven for a bit, I promise the payoff is worth the extra heat in the kitchen.
These are moist little cakes, slightly studded with softened and sweetened rhubarb on top and another layer of the fruit on the bottom. The cake-to-rhubarb ratio is perfect and I like eating it right out of the ramekin, sweeping my spoon around the bottom to scrape up all the pinkish syrup.
The original recipe calls for one cup (250 mL) of strawberries–taking the place of one of the cups of rhubarb–and only 1/3 cup (75 mL) of sugar for slightly stewing the fruit. Feel free to make that adjustment.
But I’ll be keeping mine strictly rhubarb, thank you.
Rhubarb Pudding Cakes
Adapted from Gourmet, April 2007
- 1/4 cup (50 ml)water
- 1½ tsp (7 ml) cornstarch
- 1 cup (250 ml) sugar divided
- 3 cups (750 ml) chopped fresh rhubarb stalks
- 1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
- 1¾ tsp (8 ml) baking powder
- 1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400°f (200°c), ensuring the rack is in the middle. Butter 4 individual 1-cup (250-ml) ramekins.
Mix together water, cornstarch and half of the sugar in a small pot, then add the rhubarb. Simmer, stirring constantly for about three minutes. Remove from heat.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and the remaining sugar.
In a second bowl, whisk the egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just combined. It will make a thick batter.
Reserving ½cup (125 ml) of the rhubarb mixture, divide the rest of the fruit and syrup among the ramekins. Spoon the batter evenly into each dish over the rhubarb. Top each ramekin with a portion of the remaining rhubarb syrup mix.
Bake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and the tops are slightly golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly and then serve.
Note: mine took less time than this. Start to keep an eye on them at the 20-minute mark.
This story first appeared in the Real Life section in the Calgary Herald. For more delicious recipes, visit CalgaryHerald.com/life.