Rhubarb is a tart and tasty fruit that grows in abundance in the Intermountain West. It was initially classified as a vegetable, but because of the way people tend to use it, the classification was changed to a fruit in the 1940s (see nytimes.com/1996/05/08/garden/with-rhubarb-there-s-much-to-make-beyond-the-obvious.html).
The plants are perennial and grow easily. The deep red stalks can be cut from the plant, but the leaves can be toxic and need to be carefully disposed of. Most people associate rhubarb with jam or pies, and they often combine it with strawberries to add some sweetness. It's considered in season throughout the summer months.
I love rhubarb and its slightly sweet and tangy flavor. This Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake is simple to make and so moist and delicious. It is great as dessert or to have in the morning. If you have never tried rhubarb, this is a great recipe with which to start. I think after one bite, you’ll be a rhubarb fan.
Belle's Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
4 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1-inch chunks
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 (15.75 ounce) box yellow cake mix
½ cup oil
1 cup water
In a large saucepan, combine the rhubarb, sugar, butter, vanilla and cinnamon. Cook and stir to coat until the rhubarb is tender and covered in a glaze.
Pour into two round cake pans that have been coated with cooking spray. Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions and pour the batter evenly over the rhubarb.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and the top springs back when touched. Let cool slightly, then invert onto a plate. Scrape any remaining rhubarb out of the pan and spread on the cake. Serve warm or cool.
Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins, and a grandmother of three. She is a cookbook author, including the recently released "That's a Lot of Crock!" and novelist. Her website is at talesofthedinnerbelle.com.