Every Sunday, I gather my kids up and head to my parents’ house for dinner. It’s kind of expected. There are hidden bonuses beyond the time my kids get to spend with their grandparents or getting to cuddle my year-old nephew though. One of these hidden bonuses is my mom’s garden. She doesn’t grow a lot of different things, but what she does grow is fantastic. This week, I got to bring home a bag of roma tomatoes and I picked about half of her remaining rhubarb patch. Let me tell you, this rhubarb patch is something. I think there are two or three plants all coming from the same central root ball, and it’s all intermingled and green and fragrant and lovely. I’ve been skimming from it all summer, and now that August is progressing, it’s time to cut the patch down until next year.

The tomatoes will become either a salad or a pasta sauce of some sort. I might toss them into the chili I’m making for a friend’s baby shower next weekend. The rhubarb? Well, there’s so much of it (I chopped up ten cups last night alone), I’ve been freezing it in 2-cup baggies. Some of it will go into jam. Some of it will be stewed (thanks to my mother-in-law for teaching me about stewed rhubarb!). Most of it will be baked into the most wonderful rhubarb cake recipe. Whose recipe? My mom’s, of course. My mom doesn’t bake often, but the few recipes she uses are really good. This one is my favorite. I like to make it up as muffins, add a streusel topping, and freeze them individually as breakfast treats. This year the rhubarb is so plentiful that I may just be able to have some every couple of weeks or so!

Rhubarb Cake

½   cup shortening
1½ cups sugar (plus 1/4 cup, reserved)
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1½ cups rhubarb (chopped)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Cream shortening and sugar together. Add egg and mix until creamy. Stir in buttermilk. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and flour. Stir into wet ingredients with rhubarb and vanilla and mix just until combined. Pour into 9″x13″ pan.  Mix reserved sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle on top of batter before baking.  Bake in 350° over for 45 minutes.

If you want to do this recipe as a loaf cake (quickbread), pour it in and bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until cake tester (fork) comes out clean.

If you want to do it as muffins, bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes, etc.

Mom uses splenda. I can’t tell you how much I hate hate hate baking with splenda. It is NOT the same as baking with sugar. To be honest, diabetics, unless your blood sugar is wildly out of control, one of these muffins will not hurt you (ok, you might want to omit the sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top). UGH. I’ve never bought buttermilk in my life, so I tend to do the “1 tsp lemon juice (or vinegar) in a cup of milk” thing. I’m also not crazy about baking with shortening – I usually prefer to use butter. I haven’t tried this recipe with butter though, so I can’t attest to how it would react. I *can* tell you that this cake is the most fantastically moist, delicious stuff!

Give it a try and let me know how you liked it!
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