Saturday, May 23, 2015

Eight-minute rhubarb cake

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

It’s that season!  Today, there was a clump of  fresh rhubarb in my backyard and an imminent visit from my mother-in-law.

The weather was amazing and we'd decided to invite her to lunch on the spur of the moment. What to do?  I decided on one of my favorite little cakes: only five ingredients and it whips up in no time. It’s simple and delicious after a lunch on the screened porch or when a friend comes by for coffee.  It’s also an excuse to use the cute little red eight-inch square cake pan, one of a pair that are baking souvenirs of the year we lived in England. 

Of course, it might take as long as ten minutes if you dawdle when you gather and chop the rhubarb. 

 A bit of rhubarb how-to, if you're new to harvesting it: twist off each stalk, don't cut from the plant.  Don't use them once the flowers appear. The rhubarb will be bitter.  Unless you want to end up on the wrong side of a mystery, don't eat the leaves: they are poisonous. Don't even put them in your compost.


All you need is:

2  extra-large eggs, at room temperature (this always makes a difference). Of course, large would work too
½ cup plus one tablespoon sugar
½ cup plus one tablespoon flour
1 – 2 tablespoons chilled butter
½ cup plus one tablespoon fresh chopped rhubarb (although I think it would work just as well with frozen)

All you do is:

Beat eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until thick. 

Beat in flour (don’t overbeat)
Pour into greased 8 inch baking pan.

 Arrange a layer of fruit on the top.  Top with dabs of butter. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes.  In my strange relationship with my fairly new convection oven, I now bake it at 370 for 23 minutes.  What can I say? We work these things out with our ovens.

When the cake is cool, remove from pan and dust with icing sugar. We like to shake it through a little strainer. 

 You can serve as is or with vanilla yogurt which we all love.  Of course, most cakes are also flattered by whipping cream or ice cream. 

We liked this so much that I tried it again in the round pan.  It makes a nicer slice.  Do you agree?  Like the first one, it didn't last long. 

Go ahead Help yourself. There's another one in the freezer!

Moving right along ... 

You probably know that I am half of Victoria Abbott, author of the BOOK COLLECTOR MYSTERIES along with my daughter, artist and photographer, Victoria Maffini.  Abbott  is a good place to be on the shelf!  Speaking of book collector mysteries, this recipe is the kind of quick snack that Signora Panetone, the Italian cook at Van Alst House likes to serve amateur sleuth, Jordan Bingham.  You'll find some of the signora's recipes in each of the book collector mysteries.

And while we're on the topic, we're very excited that the fourth in the series, THE MARSH MADNESS,  will be out September 1st.

You lucky little devils! You can also order it from your favorite Indie or online bookseller.


  1. Haven't had much rhubarb. This looks yummy and sounds easy enough for me to try. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for coming by, Barbara! It is easy and even fun to make. Cheers. MJ/VA

  2. My dad likes rhubarb pie but I haven't ever had any. Your pie looks yummy!

    1. It's only the second year that we've been using our rhubarb, Jen. Now I'll be harvesting to make this cake in the winter. Let me know if you try it.



  3. Very tempting MJ, especially with our plant going wild just outside the door!

    1. Act fast, Roberta! They do go wild. My neighbor's plant has already flowered, so I'll be 'harvesting' this weekend.

      Of course, there's no great problem if they just go wild and get looked at.



  4. Ooh, poisonous compost--surely there's an idea in there somewhere? Love your pan! I've got a 9" one I bought in Ireland that is wonderful.

    I still haven't warmed up to rhubarb--think I could substitute other fruits? This recipe is so nice and easy.

  5. This is good with plums, Sheila. I was thinking of trying it with pears too. You could add a bit of other flavoring. The rhubarb wasn't too tart. I think because the sugar in the cake tones down the pucker power.

    Have a great weekend!


  6. My Mom had a rhubarb patch. I have a snapshot somewhere of my young brother sitting on the kitchen stoop gnawing on a stalk of the tart treat, making such a face. I don't have any rhubarb, but I do have a carton of blueberries. I may try your recipe with the blueberries.