Monday, April 26, 2010

Almond-rhubarb snack cake

What is it about rhubarb? I'm sure not everyone loves it, but it seems that those of us who do are obsessed with it.

Like duck and cardoons, if I see rhubarb on a menu, I want it. Even if it's in an odd form, like last week at the Slow Club when I ordered pan-roasted black cod with a rhubarb and red onion puree. Turns out that was a bit of a misstep, but like a trooper, I ate it. You can take me anywhere! (Incidentally, I had decided against a dish with duck and cardoons--because it also contained lentils, which I avidly dislike. Side dishes are often the determining factor, no?)

Anyway, I saw this recipe for an almond-rhubarb snack cake in the San Francisco Chronicle years ago. It belonged to Flo Braker, who for reasons I cannot fathom, has not changed her name to Flo BAKER, which would make much more sense. I was lured by three factors: 1) Rhubarb and almond sounded dynamite together. 2) It called for using my springform pan, which I love. 3) The phrase "snack cake" is cute. So I cut the recipe out and stuffed it in my to-make file where it sat for years, untouched.

Last fall, though, I bought Flo's Baking for all Occasions  and was thrilled to note that it contained the snack cake recipe. And finally, I got around to making it yesterday.

The cake turned out lovely, moist and tender from the buttermilk, with an intoxicating aroma of almond and vanilla. Which reminds me, I found an error in the recipe. In the ingredients, Flo lists sliced almonds under both the "cake" and the "topping", but in the directions, she only refers to almonds for the topping. I opted to leave the almonds out of the cake. I don't like nuts in cake, but on top is fine.

The topping, which is made of almonds, butter, flour, sugar, and a little cream, all heated together to form a thick syrup, then drizzled over the cake and topped with the almonds, adds a crunchy and delicious layer to the cake.

The cake could take a little more rhubarb. It calls for one cup, and while I had more rhubarb at my disposal, over-rhubarbing seemed risky. But in the end, I would have liked to see more rhubarb running through the cake, as its color is one of the fruit's best features. As it is, the rhubarb pieces seemed few and far between and looked more like a melancholy lavender than rosy pink, which didn't make for the best photos. Ergo, no inside shots of the cake.

Want the recipe? Email me and I'll scan and send it to you. Sorry, I can't type all these recipes out. I have the time, just not the inclination.

Also, thanks for your nice comments on my last post. I am doing fine, and I'm pretty sure that the changes I see coming are going to be good, although it's hard to say. The unknown is, well, unknown, after all. I've never been one of those people who says, "Everything always works out for the best." I'm a little unsure how you could be a full-grown adult and believe that; I think you must have lived a life without anything sad happening to you. However, I do believe that you can always try to make the best of a situation, or learn something from it. Maybe not right away, but eventually. I mean, you have to think that, right?

Don't say I never gave you words to live by.


  1. I still haven't had rhubarb, but the cake looks great! I'd certainly try it like that. :)

    I have the same feelings about platitudes of that stripe. I just don't have the patience for that kind of ignoring of reality. Heh.

  2. ''Snack Cake'' is a great term because it makes it sound non-fattening. And that you can nibble on it all day long.

    The first time I bought rhubarb was purely for its color (!!). But now I buy for its yummy tartness as well. Think I will pick some up and make me some snack cake! - Pete

  3. I've never cooked much with rhubard so I was kind of interested in seeing what the inside looks like with it in it. Otherwise, sounds yummy. And I agree, Flo Baker sounds better than Flo Braker. Although I think Flo Rider trumps them both. :P

  4. OK. i want the recipe -- whenever is convenient for you. the top of your cake looks super yummy. I love rhubarb. Used to make strawberry-rhubarb pie with a streusel top, but haven't in a long time because I would probably have to eat it all myself.

  5. also: don't you think it's fascinating that the leaves are poisonous, but the stalks are yummy?

  6. I am being a big baby but I am not sure about rhubarb

  7. all of a sudden i'm coming across all kinds of dessert recipes using rhubarb and rhubarb alone, whereas before it was always paired with something else. it's about time the pretty sweet-tart stalks got center stage!

  8. Ha ha, I just used rhubarb too...I LOOOOVE it. In fact I'd bought a bunch plannig to make two different things with it but the rhubarb puree didn't stand a chance! Such a cute sounding cake and it looks great as well.

    Glad to see your return to the blog.

  9. Bob: you should try rhubarb! It's great in both sweet and savory things.

    Pete and Tracey: I will send you the recipe.

    Ben: shall I email you one of my less-than-fabulous photos of the inside of the cake? It's not that exciting--the rhubarb sort of fades into the cake, strangely.

    ALY: It's not for everyone, but have you tried it?

    grace: I agree: rhubarb deserves its place in the sun!

    shaz: Thanks! I'm glad t be back, missed my blogging buddies over the last week. :)

  10. this sounds wonderful... love the mix of flavors

  11. I'm all about rhubarb, which you know 'cause you've been following my blog. Love the idea of a cake...haven't made that yet. Will take your advice on more rhubarb. Made rhubarb ice cream last week and thought it should have had more rhubarb too.
    I've always thought no matter what happens in your life, good or bad, there is something to be learned and you come out the other side wiser.

  12. Oh, I always just think of Flo as Flo Baker. haha I agree - a name change would simplify things, wouldn't it?

    This sounds delicious. We don't have rhubarb just yet, but I'm gonna be keeping my eye out for some.

  13. Any cake strewn with toasted almonds is A-OK in my book. Flo Braker is so fab, too. Love her recipes in the Chron.

  14. Year: You should try it! Let me know if you'd like the recipe.

    Barbara: You'd love this cake, I will email you the recipe.

    oneordinaryday: I am glad to know I'm not alone in thinking Flo should change her name...

    CJ: Yeah, the almonds on top are awesome.

  15. Ah, now this is right up my alley! Let me at it!!! That topping looks positively awesome, I am such a sucker for a crunchy topping LOL.
    *kisses* HH

  16. I'm generally not a cooked fruit girl, if it has ice cream or whipped cream maybe, but the topping alone looks very tempting! Sometimes I order something just because of the sides too. And I'm a bit of a pollyana myself and love the excitement of the unknown... keep us posted.

  17. I've never cooked with rhubarb, but whenever I see it at the market or on a menu it always catches my eye! Maybe I can break the ice by starting with this recipe.

  18. HD, The photo of the cake is fabu. Good job. I love rhubarb and have a terrific recipe for a strawberry, port and rhubarb compote. If things let up around here, I may be able to prepare, but I'm not holding my breath.
    As far as the cockeyed optimist thing...It's just in my make up. Can't help it.
    I guess it's my way coping.

  19. HH: yeah, the topping really elevates the cake from good to great!

    foodhoe: You might like this. Or you could leave out the rhubarb and just have a delicious almond cake.

    Jessica: This is definitely an easy way to start with rhubarb--you just slice it up and chuck it in the batter!

    Pam: The compote sounds great. And hey, it's a good thing to be an optimist--absolutely!

  20. You choose the most interesting cakes! I like rhubarb, when someone else makes it. I know I would love this cake, if someone else made it :-)

  21. I love anything with Rhubarb! Anything tart makes me happy. This cake looks delicious!

  22. Velva: thanks! I have chosen some rather unusual ones to blog about. If we lived in the same state, you could come over to my house for a piece of this cake!

    Crazy Sweet Life: Thanks--it IS delicious! And thank you for stopping by!

  23. Oh i want this! Could you be a doll and send it off to me?

  24. And yea.. My email in here:

  25. kbarkakati: Yes, I will scan it and send it to you. And thanks for visiting!