Sometimes, it’s really hard to write the story of a recipe.
Sometimes, it’s really hard to write a recipe.
Sometimes, it’s really hard to write.
A few months ago, when I really dove into returning to this space, I maybe didn’t dive all in. I was shaking off the cobwebs, pulling the dusty white sheets off all the furniture like you see in abandoned haunted houses in old horror movies, & I had writer’s block. For recipes, for stories.
So I decided to start over by starting from the beginning of this blog. By revisiting, revamping & re-photographing old recipes. Like this cake.
It was, really, a buckle cake — I just didn’t know that at the time. I also didn’t know much about rhubarb, but I was (as always) strong willed & stubborn. I didn’t want to coat it in sugar or dress it up. I just wanted it to be what it was. So, I made a cake that was OK. A cake I ate like a little kid (by picking all of the toppings off & eating just the actual cake part). And, while the photos are fine, they weren’t me because I didn’t know what me looked like yet because I was still figuring out my style.
I’ve spent the last few years figuring out a lot. And I thought maybe a good way to solidify that would be to bake it all up in a cake.
But then this cake happened. And instead of forcing it to try to be something else, the thing I thought I wanted it to be, I let it be the thing it was supposed to be.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve been working on learning over the last few years is how to let go. I’ve realized letting go isn’t always saying goodbye or closing a door or ending a chapter. Sometimes letting go is simply being fluid — willing & open & receptive to possibility & to change.
Standing in front of my open refrigerator, I had to let go of that first intention — that rhubarb cake with cherries & pecans — to instead let the ingredients I already had contribute: yogurt, coconut, lime, almonds.
In this instance, another intention I set for myself (to waste less & use what I already have instead of buying more) overrode the initial intention for this cake. So I played with flavors. I sugared up that rhubarb & macerated it with a huge dollop of lime zest until it was so brightly fragrant that I wanted to dance a little. I knew I had two kinds of coconut in my cabinet &, honestly, what goes better with lime than coconut?
So, in an attempt to redo one thing I instead created something else different & brilliant & bright & exciting & endlessly delicious.
Learning to let go has been learning how to play. To be less rigid, less beholden to a plan or a recipe or an intention. To not always be such a damn stick in the mud. To trust my gut & to know that if the recipe doesn’t turn out the first time, I can always order a pizza & try again.
The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile.
— Julia Child
Perfectionism & writer’s (or artist’s) block can be tricky things, at once both incredibly useful & destructive. Learning to let go is also learning how to balance these parts of me — my perfectionism with my immediate imperfectness. Knowing that where I am at right now is not where I will always be, especially if I work hard at the things I believe to be worthwhile.
Gluten-Free Rhubarb Buckle Cake with Lime & Coconut
For the rhubarb topping:
115 grams rhubarb, sliced or diced (depending on how big & thick the stalks are)
25 grams turbinado or raw sugar
Zest of 1 lime
For the crumble topping:
25 grams gluten-free all purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour)
20 grams turbinado or raw sugar
25 grams butter, room temperature
6 grams sliced almonds
6 grams shredded coconut
Teeny pinch of kosher flake salt
For the cake batter:
50 grams butter, room temperature
50 grams turbinado or raw sugar
Zest of 1 lime
1 large egg, room temperature
75 grams gluten-free all purpose flour
25 grams fine almond flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher flake salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
65 mL plain Greek yogurt (whole/full fat plain yogurt will work, too)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease & flour a 6-inch round cake pan (or spray with non-stick cooking spray).
Make the crumble: Combine the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and combine with your fingers or a fork until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture clumps. It’ll kind of resemble wet sand. Chill in the refrigerator.
Macerate the rhubarb: Combine the rhubarb, sugar and lime zest in a bowl. Stir so everything is incorporated & set aside. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you’re ready to bake. (You can let the mix sit for up to an hour, but I wouldn’t recommend going much longer than that.)
Make the batter: Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the butter & sugar until fluffy. (If you’re using turbinado sugar, you’ll still be able to see the bigger grains. That’s perfectly OK, just make sure they’re evenly distributed throughout the butter.) Beat in the egg until fully incorporated & the mixture is lighter in color & fluffy.
Stir together the yogurt, vanilla & almond extract, & the lime zest. Add to the butter, sugar & egg mix, & beat together until it’s all incorporated.
Whisk together the flours, salt & baking powder. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Put it all together: Remove the crumble topping from the fridge. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Top with the macerated rhubarb & syrup. Break apart/crumble the topping evenly over top of the cake.
Bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging on. Broil the cake on the LO setting for 1-2 minutes until the crumble topping is golden brown. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn! (This last step is optional, but recommended.) Remove the cake from the oven & cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pan & cool completely before serving.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.