… because everything is exactly the way its supposed to be. If you try to change anything you are just being yourself. — J.C. Wheeler.
This is one of my old, before-culinary-school recipes. I was tweaking some rhubarb cake recipes six years ago, and this one was my final ever since. It came to my mind again a few days ago when I saw beautiful bright pink, glossy rhubarb stalks at Central Market. I tend to improve either proportions or techniques when revisiting recipes from the past. This cake escaped any changes at all. It doesn’t require any pro equipment or special skills, very easy to make, just follow the steps.
If rhubarb is not a new ingredient in your kitchen, you know it can be different — with more red or green in its color, more or less tart, with leathery or gentle skin or texture. The stalks can be thicker or thinner as well. All these factors affect whether you need to not and how exactly to prep the rhubarb for the cake. Peel and par-cook larger and sturdy stalks by steaming in a microwave or gently simmering them in wine. Add some sugar during that step if your rhubarb is way too tart.
This cake is not overly sweet. All its flavors and textures are balanced. The creamy-crumbling base is a relatively thick pâte sablée made with whipped butter. The top is a classic French meringue combined with toasted hazelnut meal. And the glorious fruity, refreshingly tart rhubarb is between them. Enjoy!
140ghazelnutstoasted and finely chopped or hazelnut meal
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare tools and equipment: small bowl, hand mixer, baking pan. This recipe is for the baking pan 4"x10". If using the one with removable sides or bottom, no need for any other preparations. Otherwise, line it with parchment paper. Measure all ingredients.
for the cake base
In a bowl, whip soft butter and sugar until white and fluffy. Add egg yolk and continue beating to incorporate it fully. This step is complete when sugar is dissolved.
Add flour and combine it with buttercream using a fork. Your dough will look like large lamps. Transfer them into the baking pan and press them down to cover the bottom with a layer of dough. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
for rhubarb filling
Taste your rhubarb and prepare the stalks if needed: peel, par-cook, etc. Cut them to fit the baking pan.
for hazelnut meringue
If starting with raw hazelnuts, toast them in a hot oven for 15 minutes, let cool, remove and discard loose skins. Finely chop them using a knife or food processor. Beat egg whites and sugar powder to make a meringue. Fold hazelnut meal into the meringue.
Remove the baking pan with the cake base from the oven. Arrange the rhubarb and cover it with a thick layer of hazelnut meringue.
Reduce the heat in the oven to 300F and bake the cake for 25 minutes. Turn the oven off and keep the cake in it for another 20-30 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Serve warm or keep refrigerated until ready to serve.