NRC Project Coordinator Madeleine (Maddy) Winslow describes an old family recipe, “It’s a really dense cake sprinkled with sugar. A golden crispy layer with a slight browning on top and a sweetened rhubarb that’s been stewed for a while on the bottom.”
The rhubarb pandowdy is dark-pink in color. “Like a dusty rose,” Maddy says. The cake layer is not so sweet, balancing the sugar-stewed rhubarb. “It smells sweet,” she smiles. “Like home cooking. I can think of it right now.” It’s a scent that reminds Maddy of home.
“My family has made it ever since I can remember,” she recalls. “We make a lot of rhubarb dishes, all the time.”
“My great uncle and my mom are very big gardeners,” Maddy explains. Both of them had been master-gardeners in the community: setting up shop at fairs and answering questions about gardening. Maddy's great uncle always grew lots of different produce, including rhubarb. She fondly remembers picking the rhubarb as a young child. It was her favorite plant to help harvest. “It’s got big stalks and big leaves. When I was little, I really had to tug at it. We called it the ‘tug-of-war’ plant.”
“We’d all take it home and make a plethora of rhubarb dishes. Rhubarb punch, various rhubarb desserts, rhubarb yogurt,” Maddy laughs. “It’s pretty good. I love it.”
For those wanting something different for Thanksgiving, Maddy says rhubarb pandowdy could be the dessert you’ve been looking for. “You already have pumpkin pie. So why not make something else? Like cake?”
“Rhubarb cake is easy to make,” she continues. “It may not be a traditional Thanksgiving recipe, but it still has fall elements to it. It will fit well on the table along with the other dishes and add a little color.”
“Probably nothing else on your table is pink. So why not have some rhubarb!”
Rhubarb Pandowdy Cake Recipe
3 cups fresh, cut rhubarb
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
chilled whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
1. Set the oven at 350˚.
2. Lightly butter a 1.5 quart baking dish.
3. Stew 3 cups of cut rhubarb in a pot or microwave, with sugar added to taste, until soft.
4. Add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of nutmeg to the stewed rhubarb. Then spread the stewed rhubarb on the bottom of the baking dish.
5. Sift together 1 ½ cups of flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ cup sugar.
6. Mix 1 egg (well beaten) in a separate bowl with ½ cup milk and ½ cup melted butter. Once combined, stir this gently into the flour mixture to create the batter.
7. Spread the batter over the rhubarb in the baking dish and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar on top.
8. Bake at 350˚ for about 25 minutes or until the top layer is lightly brown and crusty.
9. Serve with chilled whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Want more fall recipes, healthy or indulgent? Visit the NRC Life blog each weekend in November for a new favorite!
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