Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Grandma B's Rhubarb Cake

Nancy's Grandma B was everything you would expect of a Minnesota farm wife who grew up young and spent her whole life working hard. She planted in the spring, worked the fields with her husband, canned veggies and fruits grown "on the home place" in the fall, went to church every Sunday and cooked in the church basement for christenings, weddings and funerals. And like all her friends in the basement, donated recipes to the church cook books that were sold as fundraisers.

We're lucky enough to have inherited a couple of those cookbooks and this recipe is based on one of them.

Rhubarb is so prevalent in rural Minnesota, it is almost a weed. And like the Sicilians from my heritage use  the the fennel that grows wild as a way to stretch limited resources, Minnesotans have come up with dozens of ways to incorporate this tart stalk. There are the deserts we all know, including the rhubarb cake here, but there were also rhubarb preserves and rhubarb sauce (served as a side dish like applesauce) and more. Nancy says her dad hated the rhubarb sauce, not because of the flavor, but because Grandma B served it so often.

It will take a lot of this delicious cake before you get tired of it though. And while it was based on Grandma B's recipe (see her jello salad for another), we have lightened it up quite a bit. Substituting applesauce for shortening and skim milk for whole. It was absolutely wonderful--warm, tart, sweet and moist. Next time, we may try substituting whole wheat pastry flour for the original white flour. Still, for dessert, it's pretty darn light at only 212 calories with 2 grams of fat and 1 of fiber.

Let's eat!

Grandma B's Rhubarb Cake
Makes 15 servings
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon brandy (or vanilla)
4 cups rhubarb, finely sliced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together cake ingredients and pour into a 9x13 pan sprayed with non-stick. Combine sugar, cinnamon and coconut, top cake with mixture and walnuts.

Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Deal of the Day: I have been thinking about getting a pressure cooker. Amazon  has this Wearever 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker on sale for nearly half off!



Cooking with Kait said...

What a wonderful idea to donate recipes to raise money. This cake sounds healthy and tasty.

Tamara Marnell said...

I love rhubarb, but I've never had it in cake. I'll have to keep it in mind if I'm feeling like something fruity but out of the ordinary.

Emily Malloy (Ziegler) said...

This is right up my alley!!

Katie@Cozydelicious said...

I love how you lightened up this recipe! It's awesome to be able to sub in a few easy ingrediants and replicate a nostalgic cake for fewer calories. Yum!

CC Recipe said...

Looks delicious!

Isabelle said...

I think Grandma B would be right proud of a lightened-up healthy version of her cake. It sounds wonderful (but then again, anything with rhubarb sounds wonderful to me... if there was a 12-step program for rhubarb, I'd be a prime candidate)

Magic of Spice said...

This looks wonderful! I'll try with the brandy:)

The Housewife said...

I love that you've lightened the whole recipe. I wonder if using whole wheat flour would make the cake denser?

Cocina Savant said...

Looks great! If you do opt for the whole wheat pastry flour next time, you may want to go with 1/2 wwpf & 1/2 ap, I've ruined many a dessert doing a full substituition. Love the flavors in here!

Erin at The Healthy Apron said...

What a delicious looking photo! I love rhubarb~

Spicie Foodie said...

What a great way to raise money , everyone benefits from the sales/money and yummy foods. I love recipes with history it makes food more interesting, I think. I have never tried rhubarb but have been curious for a while. Your family's recipe sound fantastic and I love that it's low in calories, perfect!

Christina said...

Yum, this looks delicious! I love crumbly fruity cakes! How awesome that you have a couple of those old cookbooks! I wish I had my Grammy's recipes written down, but she always cooked by eyeballing. I'm a sucker for old church cookbooks, though. I have a few I've gotten from yard sales and thrift stores - one is even "sewn" w/ yarn!

Thanks for sharing w/ Friday Firsts!

And I hope you do get a pressure cooker! My dad gave us one for Christmas and I've yet to use it. I'm hoping to break it in this summer for some canning, but will need your expertise for actual recipes! :)

sweetlife said...

great rhubarb cake and enjoyed that you lightend it up but kept it flavorful


Elin said...

Scott...that is a great cake. Thanks for sharing the recipe :) Will try this out when I get my hands on is rare over here.

Heather I. said...

Whenever I see or read about rhubarb, I can't help think of my grandma since she grew it as well. This recipe has inspired me to try baking with it now, especially since it's been "lightened", thanks!

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