I don't consider myself much a a baker, but that doesn't mean that I can't bake. I just prefer simple recipes, and most of the things I like to bake are very straightforward and rustic. In my mind, bakers are the ones who make complicated confections that are meticulously decorated...not that that's true, but in my headspace, that's what I think of when I think "baker".
This rhubarb cake is a perfect representation of my kind of baking. It uses rhubarb right from my backyard. It takes only a short time (with a little prep) to throw together. It might not be the prettiest cake on the block to look at, but you will melt into a satisfied puddle of goo after tasting it. It's a very moist cake, but the cornmeal gives makes it more interesting for your mouth, and the pops of tempered rhubarb tartness...wow.
Take a stick of butter out of the fridge to soften. Wash and chop about 2 cups of rhubarb. If you have some chopped rhubarb frozen, you can thaw that, and it will work just as well. Mix the rhubarb with 6 tablespoons of brown sugar and a half teaspoon salt and let it sit for at least a half hour. This should release some of the juices in the rhubarb.
Go and do something else for a half hour or so.
Then come back. Heat your oven to 350. Butter and flour a round cake pan with decently high edges.
Put the butter in a mixing bowl with a cup of brown sugar and cream it together.
Add an egg and a little vanilla. Mix until smooth.
Add a cup of buttermilk (or just under a cup of milk with enough vinegar added to make 1 cup). Add in the rhubarb mixture. Mix it with a mixing spoon to combine.
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, mix a cup each of flour and cornmeal with a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a half teaspoon of ginger, and a pinch of salt.
Add the dry to the wet and mix until moistened.
Pour it into your prepped pan. Pop it into the oven and bake for about an hour, until it is golden on top and set in the middle.
Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes or so before popping it out. Continue to cool the cake before cutting.
Slice and serve. This one needs no assistance, but if you really insist on dolling it up, you could always go with a little whipped cream, maybe a sliced strawberry on top.
The cornmeal gives this cake a really interesting toothiness to it, which I really enjoy. Polenta and semolina are used in a lot of Italian cakes that I love, like lemon basil polenta cake and the basic orange olive oil cake that I make. My family and I visited Creekside Natural Farm this past weekend, and they have great non-GMO cornmeal that I order through Amy's Organics, so I thought this was a nice match for that. The cake also freezes well, if you want to save it for later, or maybe eat half now and save half for another day.
Like you're going to have any left. ;)