Rhubarb Vanilla Sponge Cake

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A version of this post first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Sweet Paul Magazine.

Happy five year anniversary to Sweet Paul! What a beautiful five years it’s been. And Spring is a wonderful season in which to celebrate.

When Paul told me this was the anniversary issue, I naturally wanted to bake a cake – a fruit filled cake of course. And since this column is all about preserving the seasons I set out to create a jam worthy of a Sweet Paul celebration.

Rhubarb is one of my Spring favorites. Botanically a vegetable, rhubarb breaks the canning rule thatvegetables are low acid foods by being almost as acidic as citrus. As it cooks down this jam turns a brilliant shade of pink, the apples, sugar and vanilla add sweet and sultry notes, and the salt brings out the acidity. A rule breaker jam that’s beautiful, tangy and sweet – sounds like Paul to me!

Of course, you can enjoy this jam in a multitude of ways from topping toast to pairing with pork (Paul’s suggestion), and it is just sublime in an almond sponge cake with dark chocolate coconut ganache. See the full recipe for the jam and cake below.

Vanilla Rhubarb Jam
4 medium apples, peeled
7 cups diced rhubarb
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt

Core and finely chop or puree apples. In a wide saucepan, mix with rhubarb, sugar, vanilla and salt.

Cook over medium heat until the jam is thickened and starts to appear dry, about 20 minutes.

Cool jam and refrigerate. Or, to can the jam, pour it into warm, clean jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Almond Sponge Cake
Yields 3 6-inch pans, 2 9-inch pans, or one bundt pan.

1/3 cup cold waterAlmond Cake with Vanilla Rhubarb Jam
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

1 cup almond flour
½ cup millet flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

6 eggs, separated
1 ½ cups sugar, separated

Heat oven to 350˚F.

Grease and flour pans.

In a small bowl, mix together the water, vanilla, lemon juice and zest and set aside.

in a separate bowl, sift the flours together with the baking powder and salt.

In a third large bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1 cup of the sugar until pale and fluffy.

Statring with the wet ingredients, stir the wet and dry ingredients into yolk mixture in stages, starting and ending with wet.

Beat the egg whites until stiff with ½ cup of the sugar.

Fold some whites into the yolk mixture and then add that mixture to the remaining whites.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans, tapping the pans to level them and bring any large bubbles to the surface.

Bake the cakes at 350˚ for 30 to 40 minutes or until the center of the cake just springs back to the touch.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Ganache
14 ounces good quality dark chocolate bar chopped in small chunks or chips
1 – 13.5 oz can coconut milkAlmond Cake with Rhubarb Jam and Chocolate Ganache
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch sea salt

Put chocolate in a large heat safe bowl.

Bring coconut milk just to a boil and pour over chocolate. Allow milk and chocolate to sit for about two minutes and then stir together.

Stir the milk and chocolate together until very smooth. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

Allow the ganache to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before glazing the cake.

Photography by Paul Lowe.

2 thoughts on “Rhubarb Vanilla Sponge Cake

  1. Bonnie Williams on said:

    I just baked this cake and the layers fell terribly. I followed the recipe carefully and even had new baking powder. I folded the stiff egg whites , and the batter was lovely and light when I placed the 3-6″ pans in the oven. Temp. was correct and I did not open or move the pans while baking. This is a birthday cake but I guess I’m lucky I baked it ahead of time. I can’t use these. What could have gone wrong?

    • Michaela on said:

      Hi Bonnie. I’m sorry to hear that your cakes fell terribly! You’ve covered many of the usual suspects for a falling sponge – oven temp, baking powder, folding the egg whites. One of the other possibilities is over-beating. After you beat together the sugar and egg yolks until they are light and fluffy, did you stir the wet and dry ingredients in? Continuing to beat after the flour is added is sometimes a culprit. Also, were the cakes fully cooked at the end and just dense or were they not cooked all the way through after the allotted time? I really enjoy making this cake and I’d love to help you figure this out.

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