Rhubarb pound cake and cupcake variation

Just over a year ago, I shared about my new-found love for pound cake. It was a big moment for me. I was growing up. I had stumbled upon a basic pound cake recipe that was so incredible that I baked six of them for my birthday picnic. I was asked for the recipe over and over.

This pound cake has changed lives. Or so I've been told.

I think I've made it over a dozen times since then. And I have a child. A time-consuming, sleep-depriving, wonderful child. It's that good. And simple.

Most recently, I've been in love with a variation involving rhubarb.

I was first introduced to rhubarb when my family lived in a tiny village in England. (I kid you not, this village was named Crapstone. I remember exchanging letters with my penpals and I think their parents forced them to incorrectly address the letters to Crabstone because the alternative was just absurd.)

In England, at least my version of small-village-country-side-England, rhubarb was eaten in the form of  a runny pink stew, topped with an equally runny goop of custard. I wasn't a fan. Perhaps I was too young to appreciate the tartness of the rhubarb cutting the richness of the custard. It's on my list of things to try again with my grown up adult palette.

Too bad I hoard all my rhubarb for pound cakes. The stewed rhubarb will have to wait.

I love Ontario rhubarb season. It's nice and long. There are plenty of organic options available through farmer's markets and food co-ops. And I have a handful of friends who grow it in their backyard and are so generous as to offer me some.

I use that basic recipe I shared last year and with a couple minor changes, including the addition of 3 cups of chopped rhubarb to produce a perfectly tart and crummy pound cake. I think I maybe even used 4 cups of rhubarb last time since that's what the bunch turned into. It just means a slightly softer slice of cake since the rhubarb gets just a tad mushy.

I made two loaves for the Summer Farmhouse Retreat.

I made two loaves for a summer BBQ.

I made two loaves just for me to devour at home.

Last week I took the day off to catch up with my good friend Danielle; she recently dove head first into an exciting new sewing career. It was Tuesday. A week after her birthday. A week before mine. It was necessary to celebrate with some more rhubarb pound cake.

As a variation to the variation, I made them into cupcakes topped with whipped cream and a fat strawberry. Rhubarb and strawberries are a superb duo. Like oreos and milk. Or Elsa and Anna.

We are at the tail end of Ontario Rhubarb season. I still saw some at the food co-op today. (West End Food Co-op has local, organic rhubarb for $2 a bunch!) Go! Now! get some rhubarb! And if you can't make it right now because your toddler wants you to watch Frozen with her for the hundredth time, then just wash it, chop it up, lay out on a baking sheet and freeze. You can transfer to a ziplock bag and use later!

Rhubarb Pound Cake (and cupcake variation)

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg's recipe

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
5 large eggs
3 cups of chopped rhubarb

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 small loaf pans with parchment paper. I do not recommend making this in one large loaf pan. The rhubarb releases a good amount of liquid and needs extra baking time to avoid being overly mushy. Using one large loaf pan would mean a drier crust with a center that is just set.

Beat the butter in an electric mixer on medium speed; add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 mins. In the meantime, mix together flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.

To the butter sugar mixture, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the flour mixture all at once. Mix on low until just incorporated.

Add the chopped rhubarb and mix on low again, 3 or 4 spins until the rhubarb is just mixed in. You can also do this by hand.

Give it one final scrape with the spatula to make sure everything's well blended. (Check that bottom tricky spot on the bottom of the kitchen aid mixer.)

Fill loaf pans and bake for 60 mins or until a poked skewer comes out clean.

Cupcake Variation

Prepare a muffin tin with 24 cupcake liners. The above recipe fills 24 cupcakes to the edge of the liner. You can choose to make 16 or 18 larger cupcakes but you may find that the batter tends to spill outward rather than growing up. 

Bake in the same 350 degree oven for 30-35 mins or until a poked skewer comes out clean. 

Make whipped cream topping with 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar. 

Whip until light and fluffy. 

When the cupcakes are cool, top with whipped cream and a big fat strawberry.