On Eating and Loving Food

Sour cream rhubarb cake

Sorry, you’re gonna have to make this one, too
Posted:  Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - 9:30am

Okay, we’re going to talk rhubarb again today, so I hope you like it as much as I do. I promise this will be the last rhubarb recipe till next spring.

It does seem that rhubarb is a well-loved veggie — and it really is, apparently, a veggie. The Gardena website states: “(Rhubarb) is a very undemanding perennial vegetable. Wrongly, rhubarb is often counted among the fruit species.” It goes on to say, in so many words, FOR GODSAKE DON’T EAT THE LEAVES. The oxalic acid in them can cause renal failure or metabolic diseases. And don’t harvest it after June 24. “After this date the proportion of oxalic acid is extremely high.”

Phew. Where were we?

I got around 16 emails about the rhubarb custard pie story. Seems everybody wanted to make it, and most asked for recipes for both my crumbly crust and Alex Tallen’s oats/walnut one. I’m feeling a little guilty about everyone thanking me for the pie recipe, though. It is Alex’s recipe. I just pilfered it for the column.

But getting the emails was fun. I got them from as far away as England! Bloody ridiculous. I love getting feedback about the column, which I’m having a blast with, if getting fatter by the week. Don’t tell Adele Bielli.

Carole Fowler of Edgecomb was one of the people who emailed me asking for both crust recipes, and she sent along two of her own rhubarb recipes — one is a variation on a rhubarb custard pie, with the rhubarb mixed into the custard, and another is a sour cream rhubarb cake. With rhubarb sauce and whipped cream. Hello.

Carole said everybody likes the cake, even if they don’t like rhubarb. Unfortunately now I’m going to have to make the !!#$%@ thing. Thanks a lot, Carole. And guess what? You can too! Here’s her recipe:

1 ½ cups sugar, ½ cup melted butter, 1 egg, 1 cup sour cream, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 2 cups rhubarb — cut up into approx. 1 inch pieces.

Combine sugar, butter, egg, sour cream and vanilla. Stir in flour and baking soda. Mix in rhubarb. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and spread batter in it. It will be thick. Mix 1/3 cup sugar with1 tsp. cinnamon. Sprinkle over batter and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Carole said to check for doneness, as she has had issues with it not being baked through. (I baked mine for over 40 minutes and it could have used a few more). She said the cake is delicious as is, but served warm with some rhubarb sauce (cut up some rhubarb and mix with as much sugar as you like, and cook in a saucepan till thick and saucy) and a mound of whipped cream, or ice cream thrown on top is even better.

I made the cake, but forgot the sugar and cinnamon topping. Still, it is one of the most mouth-watering-ly scrumptious cakes I’ve ever had. I did serve it with warm rhubarb sauce and whipped cream. Oh. My. God. Seriously.

Renee Emanuel from Moscow, Pennsylvania emailed me about the rhubarb custard pie, too. She and her husband are painters and they recently bought a fixer-upper in Owls Head. We’re going to get together, hopefully for fried clams and manhattans, when they come up in a few weeks. Cynthia Pitts of South Portland and Squirrel Island said she made the pie on Saturday night, and it was a “crowd pleaser.”

I got another request for both crust recipes from Molly Pitcher from Stockton Springs (I think). She sent a photo of a rhubarb pie a friend had made her, and said it had been placed in the back seat of her car, with her dog Dizzy. “She didn't sample it – just rested her snout on it for the ride from Stockton Springs,”​ she said. A true dog lover, that didn’​t stop Molly from eating the pie. She said she has indulged in more than a few manhattans, too. I like her.

Diana Dennet, who described herself as a British gal living in the Washington, D.C. area, was visiting family in England when a friend sent her a link to the rhubarb custard pie story. She had just bought some rhubarb at a farmer’​s market and wanted to make two pies – one with each crust.

Yikes, this really is starting to resemble a small weekly newspaper column. Haha. Duh.

Nell Tharpe gave me some rhubarb from her patch in East Boothbay for this cake. She also gave me some eggs from her cute little flock of chickens who were running around the yard having a blast. Nell didn’t hesitate when I asked her if she was a good cook. Yep, she said. She’s an innovative cook, too. She’s been known to pull some seaweed from rocks along the shore for a salad.

Fodder for a future column.

Meanwhile, get some rhubarb and make a rhubarb custard pie or a sour cream rhubarb cake. Or both, like I did. (Drinking a manhattan while baking makes it so much more fun.) Then email me and tell me how they turned out: suzithayer@boothbayregister.com.

And see ya next week.

Disclaimer: I’m not a chef. I lay no claim to being an authority on food or cooking. I’m a good cook, and a lover of good food. And I know how to spell and put a sentence together. This column is simply meant to be fun, and hopefully inspiring. So to anyone reading this whose hackles are raised because you know more about the subject of food than I, relax. I believe you.