Tag: cake (Page 2 of 2)

Rhubarb Muffin Cake

The North Iowa farmers markets are open again and I spy rhubarb, so summer may begin now.

Unlike the Twin Cities, we don’t have a farmers market in every neighborhood, but I’m happy we have one in town. The Mason City farmers market isn’t large and there aren’t food trucks or anything, but I can at least buy fresh vegetables and fruits, plus extra treats like bread, jam, and bags of puppy chow mix.

There’s also a vendor that sells grilled brats with the typical fixings of sauerkraut, onion, ketchup, and mustard. This is a simple pleasure that never gets old. I rarely turn down street meat.

On my last two visits, I rejoiced over this summer’s first bounty of rhubarb like the good Midwesterner that I am.

We never cooked with rhubarb growing-up. Nobody in our neighborhood grew it and I think they considered it like a weed. Jake remembers picking it as a child and eating the tart stalks dipped in sugar. As an adult, I’ve become taken with rhubarb. I love how it retains some tartness when cooked and balances out sweet desserts. The complexity of its unique flavor strikes me as both fruity and floral.

I asked friends for their favorite rhubarb recipes, but chose this cake because I had all of the ingredients in my kitchen. I found variations of this recipe in nearly all of my cookbooks, so, where it truly originates, I do not know. This cake is very simple to prepare and light and fluffy like a muffin. It reminded us so much of muffins, that I poured the batter into muffin tins the second time I made it.

This cake will be an ol’ reliable for us. Now I’m moving on to trying everyone’s favorite rhubarb recipes.

Rhubarb Muffin Cake
Adapted from Bonnie Anderson, Dee Detlefsen, Blanch Grummons & Ardy Haugen’s recipe in the Peaceful Pantry Recipes cookbook compiled by Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, MN, 1975

Cook’s Notes: The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of white or brown sugar. I used both, but in lesser amounts. The original recipe also calls for buttermilk, which I did not have. It says you can substitute one cup of regular milk + one tablespoon of lemon juice for buttermilk. In my first cake, I used 2/3 almond milk + 1/3 cup sour cream. In my muffins, I used only almond milk. I think you can use whatever you have, though the sour cream adds extra moistness. If you’d like to bake muffins, reduce the cooking time. Mini muffins took about 10 minutes. The cakes are done when you can cleanly remove a toothpick from the center.

Rhubarb Collage.jpg

A scant 1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed.
1/2 cup butter (1 stick). I used salted.
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: Splash of almond extract
1 cup milk or combination of milk + sour cream
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
Topping: sugar & cinnamon


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350℉.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars.
  4. Mix the egg and vanilla extract into the butter-sugar mixture.
  5. Add the milk and dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, half at a time, alternating until just combined. Don’t overmix.
  6. Stir in the rhubarb.
  7. Pour into a greased pan or muffin tins. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and sugar (or just cinnamon).
  8. Bake until you can remove a toothpick cleanly from the center. A small cake pan took about 45 minutes, a 9×13 will take about 35-40 minutes, and muffins will vary depending on the size. Mini muffins took about 10 minutes.

Church Cookbook Wacky Cake With Cocoa-Coffee Glaze

I stumbled upon Wacky Cake as a youth quite by accident.

My parents were very frugal, especially my mom. I’m sure she learned this from her parents who lived through the Great Depression. I remember visiting my grandma in Cuyahoga Falls, OH and finding bags filled with bags, boxes filled with wrapping paper she had carefully peeled from gifts, and baggies filled with twist ties.

My mom’s rule was that I could embark on cooking and baking projects as long as I bought the ingredients we didn’t have. Although this rule seems misguided in hindsight, I think her intention was to teach me to appreciate the food we had in our kitchen.

Therefore, I baked a lot since our pantry was typically stocked with typical baking supplies and if we were missing something, they were cheap enough to buy with my babysitting money or allowance.

I was an avid reader and loved reading cookbooks. One day, I baked Wacky Cake from a recipe I found in our church’s cookbook since we already had all of the ingredients. Later, I learned that Wacky Cake possibly originated during the Great Depression or as a result of wartime food rationing since it does not contain dairy or eggs.

Oops, I made a vegan cake!

My family enjoyed my first Wacky Cake experiment so much that my mom made it for special occasions or to share with friends in need. We frosted it with a white icing, but the church cookbook recipe recommends peanut butter icing. My husband would have been sad to find an empty jar of peanut butter (he eats PB regularly, I do not), so I made a coffee-cocoa glaze.

Wacky Cake isn’t intensely chocolatey, but it’s light and airy and sweet. If you want to keep the vegan thing going, don’t add half and half to the glaze. Either way, you can’t go wrong but you might go wacky.

Wacky Cake

Wacky Cake
Adapted from Bettemae Ramsey’s recipe in Favorite Recipes, Faith Lutheran Church Women, Akron, OH, date unknown. Glaze adapted from The Weary Chef’s recipe for Easy Mocha Glaze Icing

Cake Ingredients:
1/2 cocoa powder
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (had to swap in about 1/2 whole wheat flour)
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. vinegar (I used apple cider)
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups cold water


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350℉.
  2. Grease a large baking pan.
  3. Sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda together into a large bowl. Stir in sugar and salt.
  4. The original recipe instructs one to make three holes in the dry ingredients. Add the vinegar to one, vanilla extract to another, and oil to the third.
  5. Pour over the cold water and lightly whisk until the ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick into the middle of the cake and cleanly remove it.
  7. Cool completely before frosting (or hack off a steaming piece of cake and frost for immediate consumption, like me).

Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. of coffee
Half & half: Enough to provide a nice consistency

Mix the cocoa, powdered sugar, and liquid until you like the flavor and consistency. I made this cake to share with kids, so I only added a hint of coffee and thinned it out to a proper consistency with half and half. You could use all coffee, or just use milk/cream/half and half as a liquid.

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