Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Putting that "Easy Bake Oven" to shame

Back in the early 80's, when I was so tiny that I could barely see above the kitchen counter, all I wanted was an "Easy Bake Oven" by Hasbro. I also thought I would die without the Snoopy shaved ice maker, but that's a story for another post. My parents bought one for me - even after I dyed the living room rug pink after an unfortunate Hawaiian punch incident.

There it was...a mini version of my grandmother's oven. I remember that day so well. I chose the brownie mix, placed it gently in the oven (heated by a 100 watt bulb) and waited patiently before I slid the purple plastic spatula in to try my creation.

I enjoyed it so much, that I never ever used it again after that first time. Was the brownie inedible? Did I complain that it was just too much work and I had a pile of bills to get to? I truly have no idea what happened next. But it was never seen again. It found it's way into our basement and I assume it's still there today unless it was picked up by a neighbor after one of our summer yard sales.

Perhaps baking, even the easy bake way, wasn't my cup of tea. Fast forward about 25 years later and I'm still wary about baking. But the rhubarb in my CSA box presented a new challenge to me. I've never had one, but I heard they were pleasantly tart. I was also told that I must balance that tartness out with sugar. So, I located a recipe by a fellow Cooking Light bulletin board participant and gave it a shot this morning.

Oh. My. Rhubarb. Where have you been all of my life! It's an unusual treat for me to get to try a flavor that I've never had before. I'm struggling to describe the exact taste - I would have to say it has a lovely lemony taste to it. Basically, this pudding cake really is a perfect balance of tart and sweet.

Rhubarb Strawberry Pudding Cake from Epicurious

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar

2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb stalks (10 ounces)

1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (5 ounces)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup whole milk

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Butter an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish. Stir together water, cornstarch, and 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan, then stir in rhubarb. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, then simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in strawberries.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl.Whisk together egg, milk, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.

Reserve 1/2 cup fruit mixture, then add remainder to baking dish and pour batter over it, spreading evenly. Drizzle reserved 1/2 cup fruit mixture over batter.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of cake portion comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes before serving.

  • This was ridiculously easy and fast. It took me about 15 minutes to put together. If you see rhubarb in the store, don't pass it up.
  • I found this dessert very satisfying, but I didn't reach for seconds. Not because it wasn't good, but because it hit the spot without being irresistible. It's just tart, crunchy and interesting.
  • I can't remember the last time I purchased whole milk. I used fat free milk and it didn't affect the outcome at all.


Digigirl said...

Sounds yummy! I've never tried rhubarb either and have always been curious. Maybe I'll try your recipe soon!

Ricki said...

Sounds delicious! I love rhubarb, and it's so great with strawberries. I also yearned for an Easy Bake, but never did get one!

ttfn300 said...

haha i totally loved the snoopy shaved ice "machine" too :) oh and the easy bake oven! my mom always made strawberry rhubarb pie and jams... i just tried rhubarb oat muffins with a bit of crystallized ginger and chopped white chocolate-yum! next up i am wanting to try in a savory dish...

Kitchen Queen Victoria said...

Another person who has never tried rhubarb (although I have eaten radishes!), but my Mom always made my Dad a strawberry-rhubarb pie every spring so I will forward this recipe to her so that she can expand her rhubarb-baking horizons! :)


Mo said...

Growing up my mom made numerous rhubarb cakes and pies every spring. I hated it.

Now, living in Arizona where there isn't any rhubarb, I love it. I have her Fed-Ex me a box every May.

If you have any left, I have a couple fantastic chutney recipes that make a savory use for rhubarb.

Mary said...

Last week (my first experience cooking rhubarb) was a learning one, let's just say, but I'm up for trying again with this week's batch.

Your recipe sounds fantastic. There is a farm store called Petrucci's in Hedgesville, West Virginia, that makes the most delicious mixed berry pie -- it uses a generous amount of rhubarb, which gives it depth and tartness. I would have to say it is the best pie I have ever tried.