Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hello Summer - Rhubarb Cream Cheese Cake

Now that we are officially entering the summer season, I find few things more telling of the time than the start of the rhubarb harvest. With its long red and green stalks, rhubarb starts hitting the Michigan markets by late May or early June, depending on the weather. Great on its own in pies or mixed with strawberries, blueberries or peaches, rhubarb provides a sharp tartness that marries beautifully with something sweet.

I have been known to hoard rhubarb, buying all I can get my hands on for the short time it is available. I get it home, wash it, cut it up into one-inch pieces, and put it in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. A great use for frozen rhubarb is to make a sauce that goes perfectly over ice cream or pound cake. The idea came to me to incorporate this sauce into a cake, and so here we are! This cake recipe uses cream cheese (and butter) to produce a moist, rich cake that stands on its own – but the rhubarb adds an extra dimension to the flavor and texture.

This weekend also kicks off another summer cooking season at the cottage. It brought great comfort seeing the glistening blue of Lake Huron and I was grateful for another year at my summer getaway. In the weeks ahead, we will be bringing some fun and interesting recipes to Cavalcade of Food from the cottage kitchen, with dear friends and family helping out along the way!

Rhubarb Cream Cheese Cake

Rhubarb Sauce
4 cups rhubarb (I used frozen rhubarb that was thawed and drained of excess water)
1 cup sugar
3 TBSP water

In a medium sauce pan, combine rhubarb, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring often. Mash rhubarb with spoon as you stir so that it breaks down. Remove from heat.

Cream Cheese Cake
1 8oz cream cheese (softened)
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
1 ¾ cup flour
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter and sugar until creamy. Add half of the flour plus the eggs, milk, baking powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Add second half of flour and continue beating until well incorporated.

This recipe makes one 9x13 or two 8x8 cakes. Grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray and add batter (if making two 8x8 cakes, divide batter evenly between two pans). Spoon dollops of rhubarb sauce on top of batter (about 1 cup if making a 9x13 cake). Using a table knife, swirl rhubarb sauce into batter making a marble effect. Place pan in oven for 30-35 minutes.

Use remaining rhubarb sauce as a topping for the cake – if desired. Cakes can also be dusted with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

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