Monday, May 11, 2015

Catch-Up Week: Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

I had leftover rhubarb and lemon from the Blue Rhu Pie.  I had leftover sour cream from the cran-raspberry upside down cake.  So I figured I might as well do the rhubarb upside-down cake for Catch-Up week.  I guess it's a variation more than a catch-up, but I didn't have anything to catch up on, and I love rhubarb upside down cake, so it was an easy choice.

I liked this cake a lot, but I didn't like it as well as the cran-raspberry version.  And I know why.  I also know why it must drive cookbook authors completely bonkers when people fiddle around with their recipes and then criticize the recipe.  I know exactly what I did wrong, and I never thought it would make such a difference.

No problems with the rhubarb except that there was not quite enough (but I was only short 10 or 11 grams, so that wasn't the problem).  And of course the rhubarb had been in my crisper drawer for a week, but rhubarb's not that delicate.

The sugar was a mixture of dark brown muscovado and light brown regular sugar, which is the reverse of what it's supposed to be, but I didn't use too much of the dark brown muscovado, which is very dark and very intense.  I don't think that was a problem either.

I know it looks beautiful when you arrange the pieces of rhubarb, all cut in an even size and all facing the same way, in an intricate pattern, but that's not the point of upside down cake.  Upside down cake is a mix-it-up and put-it-on-the-table fast kind of dessert, right?

No, my problem came when I ran out of sour cream, and I wasn't close enough to just shrug my shoulders and move on.  But I remember that Rose has a delicious cake that uses sour cream, so I thought it should work to substitute cream cheese for some of the sour cream and heavy cream for the rest:  in other words, instead of sour cream, I had a mixture of sour cream, heavy cream, and cream cheese.  I was hoping that it would be at least as good as the original recipe, and possibly better.  But no.

And look how rich and fluffy the batter looks!  Who could blame me for thinking this would be a huge success.

The cake was dense and not soft and tender the way my first upside-down cake was,  You can also see that there are a few holes in the batter, leading me to believe that there were some air holes that didn't get smoothed out.  Oh, it wasn't a bad cake.  The flavors were still good.  But the texture of the cake definitely left something to be desired, and I think what was desired was a cook who actually followed the recipe.  I attribute this less than stellar cake to the fact that I was trying to bake just one more thing before we left for England, and my mind was scattered.  Next time I make this cake, I'll be sure to have all the sour cream I need, and then some.  

Don't let this version dissuade you from baking the rhubarb version of this cake (if you like rhubarb, that is).  Just read the directions.


  1. Now I feel like making this rhubarb version too! I have some rhubarb frozen for just in case of emergency..hahaha..if we need for the next recipe. I wonder if there are anymore rhubarb that will be called for in TBB? I can't tell that your cake is dense, it looked good in the photo.

  2. I'm agreeing with Faithy you can't tell the cake is dense, it looks really good in the photo. I grow rhubarb, but everything is finished now as we move towards winter here, but next summer I'll make the rhubarb version :)

  3. Looks good to me! I wouldn't turn down a slice!

  4. Looks good to me! I wouldn't turn down a slice!

  5. Agree, dense or not, it looks very, very edible! It's good to be able to experiment with ingredients at hand as it gives one a deeper appreciation of a well-researched cookbook. Sometimes only the stated ingredients will do. Having said that, I've been able to successfully replace sour cream with yogurt in various cake recipes.

  6. I'm impresses that you were baking just before going overseas. Sometimes making do works and sometimes..not so much. I think your cake looks delicious anyway.