This recipe, by Dorie Greenspan, was made and shared by our beloved Britte Kirsch. She made this with strawberries from L’etoile Farm! If you don’t have access to rhubarb feel free to get creative with other tart fruits like tart apples, raspberries, cranberries. You can also increase the amount of strawberries or use any fruit you like.
I have copied here for your enjoyment. Recipe and images belong to Dorie Greenspan. Thank you Dorie, and thank you Britte!
Strawberry Rhubarb Topped Buttermilk-Honey Squares
Makes 16 squares
GOOD TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START
The rhubarb: The jury’s out on whether or not you should peel rhubarb. I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but if the stalks are thick and wide, I’ll usually peel them. For this cake, you want the pieces of rhubarb to be bite-size – this is the kind of snackable cake you eat out of hand – so you might want to cut chunky stalks in half the long way before you slice the stalks into manageable pieces.
The berries: Because the berries get very soft in the oven, it’s best not to cut them into small pieces. Unlike with the rhubarb, larger is better with the berries.
Extra sugar: I like to scatter the rhubarb and berries over the batter and send the cake into the oven as is. However, if you’d like to sweeten the fruit a bit, you can either sprinkle sugar over the top of the cake before sliding it into the oven or toss the fruit (I’d toss just the rhubarb) with a little sugar. If you want to sugar the rhubarb, do that at the same time that you preheat the oven: Toss the fruit and sugar in a bowl, then when you’re ready for the rhubarb, drain it, pat it dry(ish) and scatter the pieces over the batter.
The glaze: You can use almost any kind of jelly or jam to glaze the top of the cake. In the “red” family, currant jelly works well and, while I’ve never done it, I bet strawberry jam could be good. I usually opt for a “golden” glaze and use apple jelly, apricot jam or Korean honey-citrus tea, which is a jam. Since the layer of glaze is thin, you don’t get much flavor from it – it’s all about the shimmer.
Peakness: The cake is at its very best soon after it’s made. You can nibble on it when it’s just warm or wait for it to come to room temperature. I’ve never turned it away a day later when the fruit has softened and sunk into the cake just a bit – it’s not as pretty as when it’s just made, but it’s still tasty.
- 1 1/2 cups (204 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) buttermilk (well shaken before measuring)
- 2 cups (200 grams) sliced rhubarb, from 3 to 4 trimmed stalks (see above)
- 2 cups (200 grams) sliced strawberries (see above)
- Jam or jelly, for glazing (see above), optional
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with baker’s spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. (For this cake, baker’s spray works better than butter and flour; if you don’t have it, butter the pan, dust with flour and line the bottom with parchment.) If you want to sugar the rhubarb, start now (see above).
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
Put the butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl that you can use with a hand mixer. Beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until the mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the honey and beat for another minute or so to blend. Pour in the vanilla extract, add the egg and beat for 2 minutes—don’t be concerned if the mixture curdles.
Turn off the mixer, add half of the dry ingredients and pulse the mixer to begin the blending. Then beat on low until the flour almost disappears into the batter. Still working on low, pour in the buttermilk. When almost all the liquid is incorporated, turn off the mixer, add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat on low until you have a fully blended, very thick batter.
Scrape the batter into the pan. It will take a little nudging to get it into the corners and to smooth the top—do your best to get it even; it will form a slim layer. Scatter over the rhubarb and strawberries. If you want to sweeten the fruit, sprinkle over some sugar (see above).
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake, which will be pale in the center and golden at the edges, starts to come away from the sides of the pan; a tester inserted into the center should come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and let rest for 5 minutes, then run a table knife around the edges of the pan. Unmold the cake onto a rack, peel away the paper, if you used it, invert again and let cool to room temperature on the rack.
To glaze the cake (optional):
If you’d like to glaze the cake, put the jam or jelly in a microwave-safe bowl, add a splash of water and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir and continue to cook in short spurts until the jam is bubbling. Alternatively, you can do this in a saucepan on the stovetop. Use a silicone or pastry brush to paint a skimpy layer of glaze over the top of the cake.
Cut the cake into squares at serving time. With this, a cut-as-you-go strategy is best – the cake will keep better that way.
STORING: The cake is best soon after it’s made, but you can wrap and keep it overnight (see above).
PLAYING AROUND: Of course you can go with all rhubarb (or all strawberries) and then, when rhubarb is no longer in season, you can top the cake with a mix of summer berries. When fall and winter roll in, you can switch to sliced plums, apples, pears or mangoes or segments of oranges, tangerines and/or even grapefruit. Nuts are a welcome addition in any season.