Rhubarbs have been sort of a mystery to me for years. Until now, I’d never cooked with rhubarbs, nor had I actually eaten rhubarb before last summer (a wonderful strawberry-rhubarb pie), but by the time I realized how good they were, the season had ended. Luckily, the season has come around again… time to experiment.
So what is a rhubarb? Is it a fruit or a vegetable? Well, it’s commonly considered a vegetable but, in 1947, a US court decided that since we so often use it as a fruit (in pies and such), it could be reclassified as a fruit. Tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits at the time, so it saved us money. Apparently, some foods are whatever courts decide they are, despite what they may actually be. Either way, it’s a plant. In some of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, she refers to rhubarb pie as “plant pie”. So, I guess what I’m making here today is a plant roulade.
The recipe I am using is exactly the same as the raspberry roulade I made in August 2013, but with rhubarb. Also, I’m making two (one to keep and one to share). Note, the recipe below is for one.
- 20 g butter to grease the pan
- 125 g flour, sifted (Softasilk)
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 125 g superfine sugar
- 30 g melted butter, cooled
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour a 11 x 14 shallow baking pan.
Whisk the sugar and eggs together in a bowl for about 10-12 minutes until the mix trails in ribbons. Dust with flour and gently fold to incorporate. Be sure to fold thoroughly so all the flour is incorporated. Lastly, gently fold in the melted butter. The idea is to keep the air pockets – to keep it light.
Immediately pour the batter evenly into the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the sponge cake is golden and springs back to the touch.
Set the pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then flip the cake out onto parchment paper. My cakes each had a crisp bottom layer so I used a long, serrated knife to slice it off and make it more malleable. I didn’t want it to crack when I rolled it. I also trimmed all the edges.
Clean and slice the rhubarb stalks about 1″ thick. In a pan on medium/high heat cook about 1 pound of sliced rhubarb with 1/2 cup sugar. It will release it’s own juices as it heats and cook down into a soft spread. Cook covered for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once soft, spread in a shallow pan and leave to cool.
- 500 ml heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 50 g confectioner’s sugar
Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the cream. Put the cream in a chilled metal bowl with the sugar and whip with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes at medium speed. Increase to high speed and mix until thickened.
Spread a layer of soft rhubarb on the cake(s), then top with a layer of whipped cream. Spread flat with an offset spatula.
Carefully roll the roulade from the short end. A lot of the filling will want to squeeze out at the end – that’s normal. It’s messy. Keep going. Scrape the excess away.
After the roulade has set, place on a cutting board and peel away the wrap. With a clean, serrated knife, trim the two ends to reveal clean edges.
Dust the top with confectioner’s sugar and serve in 1″ slices. If we consider this a vegetable, could it be dinner? You decide.