Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rhubarb and almond cake with rye flour and coconut sugar

Three sweet recipes in one month? Well, yes, that’s how it goes sometimes. And please don’t tell me you’re disappointed!

Rhubarb is baaaack. It makes me so happy to see it at the markets. Rhubarb is so exotic to me because it’s a fruit (or rather vegetable) that I had never eaten before I moved to the Netherlands, as it’s almost impossible to find in Greece.

Now, every spring, there’s a few things I can’t wait to taste and one of them is rhubarb; those long pink stalks of juicy sourness and sweetness that’s so unique and incredible, and that make desserts and savory dishes alike utterly special, both in flavor and texture.

The first thing I made with this year’s rhubarb is this cake, with almonds, rye flour and coconut sugar. I love rye flour and coconut sugar, and I invariably use them in desserts in place of regular white flour and white sugar. They add so much depth of flavor and in the case of the rye flour, texture as well.

This is an easy and quick cake to make and it’s perfect to have with your afternoon coffee, with or without some freshly whipped sweetened cream, and of course ideal for your after-dinner sweet cravings with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

It’s special enough to serve it for friends and easy and quick enough to share with just your significant other or your family.

At first, what you taste is the sharp, refreshing flavor of the rhubarb which is immediately mellowed by the caramel-y sweetness of the coconut sugar and the deeply earthy, somewhat savory quality of the rye flour, which actually reminds me of my favorite biscuits, the digestives. The almonds and vanilla bean paste are present as well, adding levels of flavor to this seemingly simple cake.

It’s soft in the center with the melting, almost jammy rhubarb adding moistness to it, with the crunch of the ground almonds and the added texture from the wholemeal rye flour, while the top, bottom and sides of the cake are pleasantly crunchy form the generous sprinkling of sugar before baking. The flavors are balanced and it’s neither too sweet nor too sharp. For me, it’s just right. S on the other hand, who has an even sweeter tooth than I have, was dying for a ball of ice cream to put on top, which he did the next day.

It’s perfect eaten while still warm, but the flavors change when it’s cool and they become deeper, as with all cakes. Also, let it be known that the corner pieces with all those gloriously crunchy, caramelized, swoon-worhty edges, are the best. Keep them for yourself. You deserve it.

More rhubarb recipes:
Vanilla roasted rhubarb and ricotta cream with Greek honey on toasted bread
Rhubarb and ginger-crumble ice cream
Rhubarb jam with black pepper
Pan-fried mackerel with rosemary and capers, and roasted rhubarb

Rhubarb and almond cake with rye flour and coconut sugar
Adapted from Bon Appetit

You can easily substitute the coconut sugar with Demerara sugar which I actually used to sprinkle the top of the cake to give a different texture since the Demerara sugar I use has bigger granules whereas the coconut sugar is finer.
I find that coconut sugar has a smoother, more round and interesting flavor than Demerara and it also has a deeper caramel flavor that I love. FYI, coconut blossom sugar doesn’t taste like coconut at all.

I use an enameled roasting pan to bake this cake. It is thin (not thick as baking pans usually are), which affects the baking time and also the texture of the cake especially at the bottom and around the edges as it creates more crunchy edges. Use something similar in order to have the same results. If you use a regular baking pan that is thicker, the cake will need to bake for a little longer.

This cake could easily be made with strawberries instead of rhubarb. It would be a bit wetter because strawberries release more juices when cooked. You could use 250 g strawberries and not add any on top of the cake, only inside, cut into small, bite-sized pieces.

Yield: 1 cake / 6 very generous pieces

230 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the pan
170 g coconut sugar (or Demerara sugar), plus extra for sprinkling the pan
450 g fresh rhubarb stalks
160 g whole rye flour
100 g blanched almonds
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract)
2 large eggs
90 g Greek yoghurt, full-fat
50 g Demerara sugar (or coconut sugar) for sprinkling the top of the cake

Special equipment: small food processor, stand mixer or electric hand-held mixer, 28x22 cm pan (I use an enamel roasting pan), baking paper

I had posted the step-by-step on my instagram stories a few days ago and I uploaded the whole thing in one video on my flickr account. You can see it here for reference. Some steps are missing but you will get the idea.

Preheat your oven to 175°C.
Butter the bottom and sides of the pan well and cover with a piece of baking paper. Butter the baking paper and sprinkle with coconut sugar.

Slice the rhubarb in half lengthwise or in quarters if it’s too thick. Keep 7 stalks that are the most pink and pretty for the top of the cake. The rest, cut into 1.2 cm pieces.

In a small food processor, finely grind the almonds being careful not to take them too far as to become a paste. Empty them into a medium-sized bowl and add the rye flour, baking powder and salt. Mix with a spatula well.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl), add the butter, sugar (170 g) and vanilla bean paste, and using the paddle attachment (or an electric hand-held mixer), beat on medium-high speed until creamy and fluffy, for 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well the first one before adding the second. Beat for 4 minutes until again you have a very fluffy and creamy mixture. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined and there are no visible patches of flour. Then, add the yoghurt and beat on low speed until just combined. You will have a slightly thick batter at this point. Finally, add the rhubarb pieces and mix them well in the batter using a spatula.

Empty the batter into the prepared pan in dollops, spread the mixture evenly and smooth the top. Add on top the reserved rhubarb stalks lengthwise, pink sides up, and sprinkle the top of the cake with the 50 g of Demerara sugar.

Place on the low rack of the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then transfer the pan to the middle rack and bake for a further 15 minutes or until the rhubarb has softened, the cake has taken on a deep golden color and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remember however that there’s rhubarb pieces in there so it will be moist where the rhubarb is located.

Take the pan out of the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool a bit. I love eating it warm. It is also great once cooled completely. Take your pick!
Serve in pieces, plain or paired with ice cream or sweetened chantilly cream.

The cake is at its best the day that you make it. The next day is good as well. You can keep it in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.

1 comment:

  1. Made this today! Yummy!! I didn't have almonds so used raw cashews and with only 1 tablespoon of yogurt still successful! Also didn't have a chance to move the pan in the oven, used a glass 13 X 9 american size pan...still great!

    Thank you so much for helping me use up my coconut sugar, rye flour and raw cashews that were sitting in my cupboard with so much unused potential!

    Well done!! Thanks!