You'll need just two hours to make this homey upside-down cake, which always elicits "ooh-ahh's." When inverted, the cake is so pretty, even if you thought you screwed up arranging those strawberries at the outset.
Think of this one for early spring rituals — a first kiss, an Easter feast or perhaps a salute to Mom.
Upside-Down Strawberry-Rhubarb Cake
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 pint strawberries, stemmed and halved
2-3 cups rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Blanch (quick boil, followed by ice bath) rhubarb for 1 minute or so. Don't overcook or you will end up with mush. Drain and set aside. Melt butter in saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir until smooth and dissolved, about 1 minute. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Scatter almonds on top. Strawberries go over almonds in concentric circles, cut-side up. Top with rhubarb and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine vanilla with milk. Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated. Alternate dry ingredients with vanilla milk, beginning and ending with dry. Mix until just combined; be mindful not to over-beat the batter. Spread batter evenly over topping. Bake until cake springs when touched, about 1 hour, or by inserting a skewer in center until it comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes. Invert onto a plate.
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