When I think of Spring, I think of rhubarb. I think of pulling rhubarb in the backyard with my parents and of making something delicious to share.
Food evokes memories. It can remind us of places we have traveled and special moments with friends and family. Recipes link us to others and help to recall the past. They become part of our history and keep us close to those we love and have known. I love that. Some of my most precious memories are deeply linked to food. Baking with my mom, picking berries in the summer time, making a special meal for mother’s day with my dad and brother.
I wanted to share this recipe for rhubarb meringue cake for Mother’s Day. It is a special one in our family, a recipe that we have been making for over 50 years. It is a part of our family history. This cake reminds me of my mom and my mom of her mom. Baking was the first thing I remember learning and loving in the kitchen and to this day is where I find comfort.
This cake recipe came to my grandma when my mom was a child, from a German neighbour named Susan. It was known as rhubarber torte. It is a recipe that comes out each Spring and is often made with the first picking of rhubarb. It is beautifully rustic and the simplicity of the cake really allows the flavour of the rhubarb to shine. I have never had a cake like it anywhere else.
There is something so perfect about rhubarb and meringue. Perhaps it is the combination of the sweet of the meringue offset by the tartness of the rhubarb. Often a handful of strawberries are thrown in for good measure.
A big thank you to my mom for sharing this recipe and for sharing her love of baking, for being patient and teaching me patience in the kitchen (still working on this one) and for always being so positive even when things didn’t turn out quite like I had imagined or more likely quite like how she made them.
Not sure how many times I have said “It is good but doesn’t taste quite like yours.” A true testament to the importance of the love and personal touch we all bring to the kitchen.
Because my mom is on the beaches of Hawaii this year for Mother’s Day I thought it would be fun to share this picture of the two of us in Hawaii circa 1985?
Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms and moms to be. Thank you for nourishing our bodies, hearts and minds. I hope you all have the chance to share food with loved ones on your special day.
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp almond flour (or more all purpose)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tsp almond extract
- zest of 1 orange
- 3-4 cups of rhubarb, chopped (a good pound or so. 3-4 largish stalks)
- 3 egg whites
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2-3 Tbsp sliced almonds (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease a 10 inch spring form pan and set aside.
- Into a small bowl, measure the all purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined. In a liquid measuring cup, measure the milk, almond extract and orange zest and whisk to combine. Set these aside.
- In a large bowl cream the butter with the ⅓ cup sugar. Add the egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk mixture. Starting and ending with the flour.
- Spread the cake batter into the bottom of the pan. Top with the rhubarb to cover.
- In a clean bowl with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the ⅔ cup of sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread over the fruit and cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds if you like.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden and crackled. To be sure, use a skewer to test the center of the cake to ensure it is cooked through.