Pretty Cake, Please -- with Sugar on Top!: Rhubarb-Almond Cake

When one of my colleagues who has a plot in our neighborhood community garden was kind enough to share some of her homegrown rhubarb with me, I decided to try a Rhubarb-Almond Cake recipe I found on I love pretty much anything with almond, but I think the photo is what drew me in; I've never see whole stalks of rhubarb used to top a cake.

I trimmed the rhubarb stalks, halved them lengthwise, saved some of the best-looking pieces to top the cake, and chopped the rest. To make the batter, I creamed room temperature butter with sugar; mixed in the scraped seeds from a vanilla bean, followed by eggs; added the dry ingredients (flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt); incorporated sour cream; and folded in the chopped rhubarb. I scraped the batter into a buttered and sugared tart pan, smoothed out the batter, arranged the stalks of rhubarb on top, and sprinkled on a generous amount of granulated sugar.
The cake takes a long time to bake, and the rhubarb on top retained its bright color but looked shriveled and dry by the time the cake was done. I didn't have any trouble removing the cake from the pan after it was completely cooled, but I needed to use a sharp serrated knife to gently saw through rhubarb stalks. The sugar sprinkled on the cake before baking formed a thin and glistening crust on top.
I thought this cake was delicious. The chopped rhubarb inside the cake was very soft and didn't have much flavor. But the rhubarb on top was fantastic and flavorful -- it was basically candied, with a wonderful chewy texture. The cake didn't have as much almond flavor as I would have liked (maybe a little bit of almond extract would have been a good addition), but the cake was moist and tender, if slightly messy; it's the kind of cake that forms a lot of crumbs when you eat it, and a fork is definitely required (even though it's useless when it comes to trying to cut through the rhubarb stalks). I also loved the crisp, sweet sugar crust on top.

This was a very homey and comforting cake, and the rhubarb and sugar crust on top made it special. What a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty and flavor or rhubarb!

Recipe: "Rhubarb-Almond Cake" from

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