Over the last week or so, I’ve managed to jump onto the strawberry rhubarb bandwagon. Now I can safely say, without hesitation, that I finally understand the fascination for this blissful combination. No, not blissful. Divine. Heavenly. Dream-like. Where-have-you-been-all-my-life? I’ve-been-living-under-a-rock-combination. I’ll have to admit (I’m not proud of it) that I’d never tried it before. Sure, I’d always heard of strawberry rhubarb this and rhubarb strawberry that, but I’d actually never had the two ingredients together. Like ever in my entire existence. I told myself that I wouldn’t give into the fad and temptation. I even convinced myself that I probably wouldn’t even like it. “Jonathan, you won’t like it,” I’d tell myself. It was a short conversation. Shame on me. But if you knew my reasoning behind it you might understand me. Maybe. For some crazy demented reason I always associated rhubarb with celery. Perhaps because they look sort of similar. Rhubarb; celery’s long lost crimson cousin. Crazy I know. They taste nothing like one another believe you me, I learned. Oh I learned my friends. Then something happened. Something unexpected. Something euphoric. It all changed. And for the better mind you. My life was thrown into a whirlpool of delight. Last week I decided to bite the bullet and make a strawberry rhubarb pie. I figured if I was going to try the combination, I might as well go all the way and attempt the mecca of all strawberry rhubarb desserts. The pie. It just so happened that my friend posted a pie recipe the day after my revelation so I tried her Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie recipe.
My entire world changed after that. My eyes were opened and my life was transformed. I’ll go on record to say that this was the best pie I ever had. Aside from pumpkin pie because I can’t help it. I mean can you blame me? A giant slice of fresh homemade pumpkin pie in November with a huge ginormous dollop, no mountain, of whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamonmonmonmon. But I digress. Back to this ridiculous pie. The flavors were incredible. Rhubarb, to my delight, tasted nothing like celery. Rhubarb tasted like sweet candy. But not overly sweet. Just the right amount of sweet. Eat your heart out celery, you’re not related to rhubarb. You’re an impostor. Your red cousin tastes 100 times better than you’ll ever taste (but not really because I still love you with peanut butter and in soups and stews and egg rolls and what not. You’re king when it comes to savory things).
After savoring that pie and not allowing anyone to touch it, I wanted it all for myself, (yes I’m selfish like that, it’s pie!) I decided to explore my strawberry rhubarb horizons. I was in the mood for a simple dessert but with a punch. A KA-POW kick to a classic recipe. So folks, I present to you Rum Pound Cakes with a Strawberry Rhubarb Compote. And just like that I became addicted. I’m Jonathan Melendez and I’m addicted to Strawberry Rhubarb ______________________.
We’re going to start by making the strawberry rhubarb compote. Compote is just a fancy term. It’s thicker than a sauce and thinner than something like, let’s say, jam or preserves. According to my trusty friend wikipedia, a compote is a dessert that originated in 17th century France and is made of whole or pieces of fruit cooked in water, sugar, and spices. Sometimes vanilla, lemon or orange peel, and various spices are added. It can be served warm or cold. So that’s your history lesson for the day. The more you know.
We need rhubarb, of course. Wash it. Dry it. And chop it into smallish pieces.
Look at that and tell me it doesn’t look like a hot piece of celery without the leafy tops. Can someone please agree with me? It’ll make me feel better for discriminating this vegetable (?) for so long.
Anyhow, cut the small rhubarb into pieces.
Throw the chopped rhubarb into a medium pot.
And move on to the strawberries. During the early summer months when the strawberries are in full season and they’re as big as my head, I just can’t get enough of them. So I start to think of different ways to utilize this fruit. Do we recall that Strawberry Shortcake or let’s not forget the No-Churn Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream?!
But sometimes all the baked goods featuring this fruit just don’t cut it. Sometimes all you need is just a bowl full of strawberries and a giant vat of whipped cream. Nothing better than that folks. And nothing wrong with it either.
Same thing here, wash them. Dry them. And cut them in half.
**Note: If some of the berries are really big, cut them in quarters. If they are small to medium-ish in size, cut them in half. The best part of a compote is that it looks really rustic. You’re supposed to see and taste chunks of fruit in there.**
And just because strawberries are freaking delicious and look amazing during this time of year, you can have another picture.
No, don’t thank me. It’s my pleasure. I’m here to tempt and torment. I mean inspire.
Add the strawberries to the pot with the rhubarb.
We’re going to add some granulated sugar. Not a lot, but enough to sweeten the tart berries and bring out the natural juices. Plus, it’ll make the sauce all syrupy and delicious.
**Tip: If you like your compote sweet, add more sugar. If you like it a bit more tart and tangy, add less sugar. It’s that simple. No science behind this compote thing.**
And just like my trusty friend, wikipedia had mentioned, we’re going to add a bit of orange zest. That will add amazing flavor to our compote.
We’re also going to add the juice of the orange. No waste here.
Again, tying flavors together. Amazing. Tastes. Out of this world.
(Blurry photo alert).
Give everything a stir and place over a medium heat. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble and simmer.
Here’s a close up photo just because:
And we’re going to add a couple more ingredients now.
We want the compote to be thicker than a sauce, so we’re going to throw in a bit of cornstarch.
Sprinkle in a dash of salt to tie everything together and bring out the sweetness from the berries.
It enhances the compote flavor, trust me. It’s only a dash of salt really. You’re not really going to taste it.
Lower the flame to as low as it will go. How low will you go? How low will you go? Allow the compote to simmer and cook and thicken for a few minutes.
Remember to stir constantly (or periodically really) so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. That would be bad. The pound cakes would be awfully lonely if that happened.
Those two images up above are different, I promise. If you look really closely you’ll be able to see the differences.
Allow the compote to simmer away for a few more minutes. Once the strawberries and rhubarb have softened and cooked down, and the mixture is thick and bright in color, remove from the flame and allow to slightly cool down.
As mentioned earlier, you can serve the compote warm or cold. I like it slightly warmed. So what I do is transfer the mixture to a mason jar. Or airtight container if you don’t have a jar.
Carefully (making sure you don’t spill any and waste some of this delicious compote) ladle the mixture into the mason jar.
**Tip: If you’re going to store the compote in the fridge and chill it, make sure it has cooled down to room temperature first. You don’t want to add the hot jar to the fridge because it might crack from sudden temperature change or it can drop the temp in the fridge and spoil things. Screw the lid on the jar and turn it over. I like to let the jar sit at room temperature upside down to seal in freshness.**
Once cooled you can store the compote in the fridge. It will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.
Let’s turn our attention to them rum pound cakes shall we?
Start by creaming room temperature butter in a large bowl of an electric mixer.
Stream in, slowly, the granulated sugar and continue to cream together until light and fluffy.
While those two ingredients are creaming, mix the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl add the all-purpose flour. You can also use cake flour if you have that on hand. It’ll give the pound cake a crumblier crumb. If that makes sense.
Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Give the dry ingredients a whisk. You could also just run the dry ingredients through a sift. I’m against sifting, not because of any particular reason other than me being lazy to do it. That counts as a valid reason right? Let’s hear it for laziness. Hip hip hooray.
Set the dry ingredients aside and turn your attention back to the creaming butter and sugar.
Once they are creamy and fluffy and light and airy, you can add the eggs. One at a time. Mix well after each addition.
Next up is the vanilla extract.
Real vanilla extract. Imitation what? Flavoring huh?
Now it’s time for the rum.
**Note: If you’re not a fan of baking with alcohol or you don’t like rum, you don’t have to add it. You can just add vanilla extract and leave the pound cakes like that. They’d still taste just as delicious but why not add the rum? Might as well. It adds amazing flavor to the cakes, I guarantee it. If it doesn’t you can get a refund, but not really because you didn’t give me any money to begin with. I just felt like it was the right thing to say.**
And now to finish off the cake batter.
We are going to alternately add the dry ingredients with the sour cream. So dry and then sour cream. Then dry and then sour cream. Just make sure you begin and end with the dry ingredients.
Mix just until the ingredients are combined after each addition.
Stop the machine every once in a while and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are well combined.
I’m using a mini bundt pan to make them into tiny itty bitty (okay medium sized) cute pound cakes. Individual pound cakes just sound so right in the best way possible.
You can pour the entire batter into a large bundt pan and make one giant cake and cut it into slices if you’d like or if you don’t have a mini bundt pan. But you should totally get a mini bundt pan just because it’s adorable and also because it’s fun to say mini bundt cakes. Mini bundt cakes.
Spray the pan liberally with cooking spray, which happens to be a bundt pan’s best friend because of all the crevices.
Then scoop the pound cake batter into each cavity with a medium sized ice cream scoop. It makes it easier and ensures they all come out the same size. Avoiding a big fight trying to wrestle someone for the bigger piece.
Fill up each of the bundt cups about ¾ of the way up.
Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, free of crumbs. If you are using 1 big bundt cake or 2 loaf pans, you’ll bake it for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Booya. I felt like there needed to be a booya here.
Once golden brown remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Cool the cakes for a bit before removing them from the pan. Run a knife along the sides and help the cake out.
Allow the mini pound cakes to cool down completely before serving and topping with the strawberry rhubarb compote.
Once the pound cakes have cooled they are ready to be served. I like to serve the cakes with fresh whipped cream (just heavy whipping cream whipped together with some powdered sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form) and the strawberry rhubarb compote we made earlier. Let’s not forget about that.
You don’t have to serve the pound cakes with whipped cream if you don’t want to but I mean come on, why wouldn’t you just add a dollop of fresh whipped cream to everything in your life? Whipped cream just makes everything better. Am I right ladies and gentlemen? Eh eh eh?
And now that we’re super fancy making compote we can drink tea with our pinkies up. I’m giving you permission to do so, but only when you serve it alongside these pound cakes, okay?
What kind of life would it be without the delicious collaborations of one strawberry and rhubarb? I feel like I’ve been missing out on so much. Imagine all the possibilities at your fingertips. Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie and Rum Pound Cakes with Strawberry Rhubarb compote are just the beginning. What lies ahead? What’s next? I have no idea but I know it will involve this vegetable and this fruit. Or at least until the end of summer when they’re both out of season. All in a day, is what I always say.
Also can we take a moment to admire the deep red color of that gorgeous compote? If nothing else, let’s just ogle and drool over the very sight of this luscious sauce-like jam compote thingamajig. But I know that we all don’t have the time to make our own homemade compote. So if you find yourself pressed for time but still want a great dessert you can just make the pound cake and serve it alongside fresh whipped cream and sliced berries. That would be fine too. I won’t get mad. Cross my heart and kiss my elbow. I’d still enjoy it.
What’s the moral of this post my friends? Don’t judge something by the way it looks and always, ALWAYS, give something a try first before determining you don’t like it. There is so much out there in the world that is worth trying and we don’t because we overlook it and make conclusions that don’t make sense. Let’s be more brave, myself included, and try everything at least once before making a face and declaring we don’t like it. We owe it to ourselves because we never know how much we might actually love the way it tastes until we give it a try. Let’s be adventurous in the kitchen. Deal?
Rum Pound Cake
This classic pound cake is flavored with vanilla extract and taken a step further with dark rum. You can omit the rum if you aren’t the biggest fan of baking with alcohol or if you don’t happen to have some lying around. Sour cream makes this cake crumbly and moist. If you don’t have sour cream on hand, you can swap it out for buttermilk. The crumb will be different but the cake will still be delicious!
yield: 12 mini pound cakes, one 10-inch bundt cake or two loaves
- 3 cups (1 pound) all-purpose flour or 3 cups (247.5 grams) cake flour
- ¼ teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda
- ½ teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (4 grams) salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 2½ cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) dark rum, optional
- 1 cup (242 grams) sour cream
- strawberry rhubarb compote (recipe follows), for serving
- fresh whipped cream, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a mini bundt pan, a 10-inch bundt pan or two loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar. Whip on high for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix once more to ensure the ingredients are well combined. Add the vanilla extract and rum and mix again.
3. Alternately add the dry ingredients and sour cream. Starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix well after each addition, until just incorporated. Be care not to over-mix the batter. Scoop batter into prepared pans and bake in preheated oven. For mini bundt pans bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The cake should be golden brown around the edges. For full-sized bundt pans or loaf pans bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
4. Remove the pound cake(s) from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Let cool for about half an hour before inverting the cake out of the pan. Allow to cool completely before topping with compote and fresh whipped cream. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge wrapped in plastic. Bring down to room temperature before eating. Enjoy!
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
Swap out the strawberries in this recipe for raspberries or blackberries. The compote can be stored in an airtight container or mason jar in the fridge. It will keep for about 2 weeks. You can go through the whole canning process of boiling the filled jar if you want to prolong the storage on a shelf, instead.
yield: about 2 cups
- 2 pounds (1 kg) fresh rhubarb, cut into small pieces
- 1 pound (450 grams) fresh strawberries, halved or quartered
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- zest of 1 medium orange
- juice of 1 medium orange
- ½ teaspoon (4 grams) salt
- 1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch
1. In a medium pot combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Add the salt and cornstarch, stir to combine. Bring back to a simmer and lower the heat to low. As low as it will go. Continue to cook the compote until it has thickened and the strawberries and rhubarb have softened and cooked down a bit, about 5 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.
2. Remove from the flame and allow to cool down slightly. Pour the compote into a mason jar or airtight container. Allow to cool down completely before storing in the fridge. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Can be served warm or cold on top of cakes, breads, ice cream or pudding. Enjoy!