Inside Out (Australia)

rhubarb, vanilla and anise upside-down cake

- by Helen Goh

1—2 hours | SERVES 9

240g rhubarb stalks

100g castor sugar

1 tsp anise seeds, toasted

and roughly crushed Seeds from ½ vanilla bean

CAKE MIX

120g (¾ cup) self-raising flour

¼ tsp salt

140g almond meal

250g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperatur­e

250g castor sugar

4 eggs, at room temperatur­e

½ tsp best-quality almond extract (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

1 Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper and set aside.

2 Wash and dry the rhubarb, trimming away any green (poisonous!) leaves. If the stalks are thicker than 2cm, halve them by cutting lengthways. If making the grid pattern, cut the stalks into batons, each about 6.5cm long.

3 Place the sugar in a bowl and rub in the anise and vanilla seeds with your fingers. Toss the rhubarb pieces through the sugar and macerate for 5 minutes.

4 Start by laying the rhubarb batons horizontal­ly in one corner of the lined tin, making sure there are no visible gaps between the stalks. Moving across the tin, lay the next batch of batons vertically, followed again by horizontal­ly. Keep repeating until the rhubarb fills the tin. By laying the stalks in this manner, you’ll create a series of squares. Sprinkle any of the remaining vanilla anise sugar over the rhubarb and set the tin aside.

5 Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).

6 For the cake, sift the flour and salt together in a small bowl. Add the almond meal, stir to combine, then set aside. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer a couple of times to scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure it is evenly mixed.

7 Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined, then spoon in half the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until just incorporat­ed, about 10 seconds, then remove the bowl from the machine and fold in the remaining dry ingredient­s and almond (or vanilla) extract with a rubber spatula.

8 Spoon the batter carefully over the rhubarb and spread with a spatula to form an even layer. Place on the middle rack and bake for 60—70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour before turning out onto a serving plate. The cake is best served on the day it is made, but may be kept in a cool place for up to 2 days.

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