I absolutely love rhubarb with all the tanginess that it tickles my taste buds with, and after 30 years of trying to grow rhubarb, we finally got it right! A few years ago I had almost given up trying to grow the “pie plant” that had graced my grandmother’s garden. If you love rhubarb as I do, the only way to enjoy it is if you grow it yourself. For years we had bought and planted rhubarb in countless locations on our property, only to have it die. It was heartbreaking, for it is impossible to find rhubarb in the grocery.
After talking to a seasoned gardener friend of ours, we decided to give it a go one more time. We bought 3 plants at the Master Gardener’s Sale that is an annual spring event in Evansville. I brought them home and we planted them on the northeast side of our house in the landscaping. The foliage is beautiful, and the plants are as lovely as the hosta that are planted right around the corner. To our amazement, they thrived in that location! In fact they were so prolific, I was able to separate the plants this year and we now have nine healthy, robust plants from the three that we started with.
I must say that the first year after we planted them was a little stressful. Our free-range chickens found them early in the spring and since they were one of the first green things coming up, they decided to make a meal our of them. We put chicken wire around the plants to keep them safe. Then later that spring when things started warming up, a snake decided the rhubarb plants looked like a great place to cool off but got caught going through the chicken wire. Unfortunately for him (or her), I didn’t see the creature in time to save it.
But now, several years later, we have the most beautiful rhubarb plants I have ever laid my eyes on. We have fed them a constant diet of compost that we make from the goatbarn and chicken house cleanings as rhubarb is a heavy feeder. I water them occasionally, and we no longer need the chicken wire that once kept the chickens out. For whatever reason, the chickens don’t bother the plants anymore. Scott has put a heavy layer of straw mulch down around them this summer to preserve moisture and they seem to appreciate it as I have harvested stalks from the plants several times and they just keep producing more.
I make strawberry-rhubarb pie as soon as the berries are ripe. I made 8 pies this spring, and we enjoyed dessert every evening, as well as giving pies to friends and family. Now that the strawberries are gone I have moved on to other rhubarb recipes. I found this rhubarb Bundt cake recipe that I made a few nights ago and wanted to share it since it is going to be a “keeper” in my recipe file! It is good warm, but it is even better the next day or two out of the refrigerator. We have been eating small slices with homemade ice cream in the evening for dessert. The tanginess of the rhubarb is complimented by the rich, sweet ice cream. I like it as much as strawberry-rhubarb pie, which is saying a lot!
If you want to try it, this is the recipe:
Rhubarb Bundt Cake
Ingredients for the Cake:
· 2 cups plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, divided
· 1 teaspoon baking soda
· ¾ teaspoon baking powder
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
· 1 tablespoon lemon zest
· 2 large eggs (room temperature)
· 1 cup Greek yogurt
· ¾ cup olive oil
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 2 ½ cups diced rhubarb
Ingredients for the Glaze:
· 2 tablespoons finely chopped rhubarb
· 2 tablespoons butter
· 1 cup powdered sugar
· 1-2 tablespoons milk
· Squeeze of lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter and flour a 9-inch Bundt pan. Set aside.
2. Whisk 2 cups of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium sized bowl and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use your hands to rub together the sugar and lemon zest for a minute or two. Add the eggs to the bowl with the sugar and mix on medium speed about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and creamy. With the mixer running, stream in the oil, then add the yogurt and finally the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients just until combined.
4. Toss the rhubarb with the reserved 2 teaspoons of flour.
5. Gently fold the rhubarb into the batter.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan, and bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, then invert onto a cake stand or platter.
For the Glaze:
1. In a small saucepan on medium heat, stir together the rhubarb and butter. Cook for a few minutes until the rhubarb is tender.
2. Using an immersion blender, puree the rhubarb-butter mixture until smooth.
3. Use a whisk or electric mixer and add the powdered sugar, mixing until well-combined. Gradually add a little milk and lemon juice until smooth. Add more powdered suger or liquid as needed to reach a smooth glaze.
4. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze onto the cake – enjoy it warm or room temperature, refrigerate leftovers (if there are any!)