So, yes, I am busy designing a "My pussy is a pre-existing condition" shirt. And yes, I am busy ruing the future moment when the lilacs tip away from this heady pinnacle of perfection towards the gloomy inevitability of their own browning deadness. And yes, also, I am busy making boutonnieres (thank you, internet tutorial!) for Ben and his friends, who seem all to taking each other to the prom tonight, after which I will just be waving to the back of his shirt as he leaves, leaves, leaves us incrementally and then all at once. Melancholy alert! (Oh, I guess that should have come first.)
But that doesn't mean I don't have time to announce the winners of the Catastrophic Happiness give-away: Laura with the six-month-old, Malia, and Raquelita, please email me your address! (And thank you all so much for playing, and for your ongoing love and encouragement.)
Or that I don't have time to share this wonderful cake recipe, below, which is my brand-new citrus-scented rhubarby springtime version of the famous plum cake. Oh, man. It is so good.
Simple Rhubarb Cake
This is a variation on Plum Cake, which is itself a variation on the NYT's very famous Plum Torte, which has been a favorite of everybody’s for forever. The spelt addition is mine (you’re welcome!) as is, here, the substitution of rhubarb for plums. Because it is May! I don’t have plums! But I do have rhubarb, and you don’t even need much of it for this. The rhubarb dimples the cake and turns into silky sweet-tart nuggets of red and green. It’s delicious, and I do love the flavor of the orange zest with it, although this is not a crucial ingredient. Feel free to leave it out.
1 ½ cups rhubarb (about 3 stalks), cut into ¾-inch pieces
¼ + ¾ cup sugar
1 stick butter (I use salted), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
The finely grated zest of 1 scrubbed orange or tangerine (around 1 teaspoon)
2/3 cup white flour
1/3 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)
Heat the oven to 350.
Stir together the rhubarb and ¼ cup of sugar and set aside.
Use an electric mixer (if you have one) to cream together the butter and ¾ cup sugar—or do this all by hand, which is fine. Now add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, and add the extract and orange zest. Beat in the flours, which you’ve either sifted or whisked together with the baking powder and salt, and mix just until the batter is well combined.
Now scrape the very stiff batter into your pan: I use a spring form pan that seems to be 9 ½ inches across, but you could butter and flour a regular cake pan and use that, need be. Use a rubber spatula to even it out; it will make a shallow layer, and that’s fine.
Arrange the rhubarb evenly over the top of the cake, along with any of the sugar left in the bowl, and press it all down lightly with your hand. Now pop the cake into the oven to bake until it looks nice and brown and doesn’t jiggle anywhere when you, uh, jiggle it—the recipe says an hour, but mine is always done after 40 or 45 minutes; if your pan is smaller (and your batter therefore deeper) it may take a bit longer.
Cool on a rack 5 minutes, then remove the ring and cool further before serving.