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Strawberry Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

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For the caramel:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus a little extra to butter the pan with
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
Dash of kosher salt
For the cake:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter, softened, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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Strawberry Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake


    A twist on the traditional upside-down cake, this strawberry rhubarb version is the perfect dessert for spring!

    • 3 hr
    • Serves 8
    • Medium


    • For the caramel:

    • For the cake:


    Springtime is a time for new growth.  A time when the world starts to green up and bloom again after a long sleep, and despite the allergy sniffles and sneezes it brings, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. With the arrival of spring come some foods that are quintessentially part of the season.  Asparagus, artichokes, and elusive morels make an appearance after the frost fades, and then the sweet stuff comes in.  I tend to go a bit berry crazy in springtime, as they’re plentiful and usually on sale this time of year.  One of my favorite ways to enjoy bright, spring strawberries is alongside another favorite spring visitor, rhubarb.

    Every time I make something with rhubarb, someone comments to me that they’ve never had it before. I get it. Rhubarb is kind of weird.  I love it, but it’s an oddball in the produce department.  Its long stalks are bright red, and stringy, like celery, when raw, with a distinctly sour punch.  And unlike the stalks, which I cook with every spring, the leaves are actually poisonous to humans!  Now, you’d have to eat an awful lot of rhubarb leaves to die from rhubarb poisoning, but the leaves contain Oxalic acid, which can lead to everything from diarrhea and stomach pain to kidney stones, seizures and coma. Not cool, right?

    So, given that reputation, I can understand why people tend to steer clear of the rhubarb section in the vegetable aisle of the grocery store every spring.

    The stalks, however, are perfectly good for us.  In fact, unlike their leafy counterparts, rhubarb stalks have been used for medicinal purposes for years, and are high in calcium, lutein, and vitamin K. And, if I’m being perfectly honest, nutritional benefits aside, their sour punch partners up beautifully with sweet, spring strawberries. Which is why I decided to give this cake recipe a whirl.

    I’ve eaten plenty of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie in my time, but when I saw this recipe for a twisted up version of upside-down cake, I figured I needed to break out my favorite spring oddball.

    First things first, I started to cook up a simple stove top caramel of sugar and water.  It needed to bubble away and cook for a few minutes, so while it did, I sliced up my sweet berries, and chopped my stringy rhubarb stalks into pieces. Then, I tossed the fruit and veggie together in a bowl along with some cornstarch, strawberry jam, and a dash of salt.

    Once the caramel was a beautiful amber color, I removed the pan from the heat and swirled in a tablespoon of butter, before pouring it into the bottom of my cake pan.

    Once the caramel was in the pan, I topped it with my strawberry-rhubarb mixture and set the pan aside while I made my cake batter.

    The cake batter was buttery and light, and the perfect counterpart for the tart and sweet mixture already in the pan.

    I spread the cake batter over the strawberries and rhubarb until every bit was covered, and then it went into the oven for about an hour.  When it came out, the cake was puffed and golden.

    I ran a knife around the edges of the cake, and then I let it rest on a cooling rack for an hour, before flipping it out onto a serving plate.

    Like it’s pineapple partner in crime, this strawberry-rhubarb upside-down cake is deliciously tangy and fresh.  The fruit cooked down just enough, and is held in place by just enough of that caramel.  It’s not cloyingly sweet, but perfectly balanced. And the light, vanilla butter cake is just the perfect resting place all of that spring goodness.

    I served the cooled cake alongside dollops of fresh whipped cream, and the result was perfectly tasty and like the best little burst of springtime right at our family dinner table. The family rated it a perfect 10, and we’ll definitely see it grace our table again.

    Happy Spring!  Now, go grab some rhubarb (but don’t eat the leaves!) and get baking!

    Adapted from The Food Network



    Preheat the to 350*F. Butter the sides of a 9-inch cake pan. Set aside.


    For the caramel: Stir 1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water together in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, no longer stirring but swirling the pan every so often, until the mixture is amber in color, about 6-8 minutes more. Remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully stir in the 1 tablespoon of butter until combined. (The mixture may bubble up a bit. Be careful!)
    Pour the caramel into the bottom of the prepared pan and tilt to spread. The caramel may cool quickly, so just distribute it as evenly as you can before it does!


    In a medium sized bowl, combine the sliced strawberries and rhubarb along with the strawberry jam, cornstarch, and a dash of salt. Spoon the mixture over the caramel in the pan to cover the bottom of the pan. Set aside.


    For the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together the milk and sour cream in a small bowl.


    Beat the stick of butter and remaining sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer over medium-high heat until they are light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla.


    Reduce the speed to low, and in batches, alternate adding the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter over the berries and rhubarb and spread evenly to cover.


    Bake at 350* until the cake is golden brown, puffed evenly, and springs back to the touch, about 55-60 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack to cool, and run a knife around the edges to loosen it a bit. Allow to cool for 1 hour.


    After the hour, carefully invert a serving platter over the cake pan and, while holding them together, quickly flip them over so the cake unmolds, fruit-side up. Allow to cool completely before slicing into it. Serve with freshly whipped cream.

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